Siddhartha P. Saikia

An enthusiast keeping a close watch on the energy space. Always in pursuit of adventurous travel and food.

Siddhartha P Saikia

Media invited but not welcomed!

| Updated on April 19, 2013 Published on April 19, 2013

Steven Chu, Secretary, United States Department of Energy, addressing students at IIT Delhi.

Of late, several instances have come to light where media is invited to cover an event but not provided with facilities required for journalists to perform their duties.

It looks like many ‘communication professionals’ fail to understand a simple question – when should they invite the media?

The most recent incident happened on April 16 at the prestigious IIT in New Delhi. Nobel winner Steven Chu of the United States was at the campus to speak on how science and innovation has shaped the world in the past and will define our future. Steven Chu is Secretary of the United States Department of Energy.

A day before, media organisations received a ‘US Embassy Media Advisory’ on their mail box. The advisory was to ‘invite the media to attend and cover a talk.’ The email also carried a note saying: all media personnel must bring photo IDs; media is requested to be seated by 11:45 a.m and no OB vans will be permitted, among others.

On the day of the event, when reporters reached the Dogra Hall in IIT campus, where the event was scheduled, there was nobody to correctly show the entry gate. However, media persons are equipped to handle such uncertainties.

But before the event started, Press Officer from the Embassy announced that media cannot ask questions. In many occasions this happens because audience (other than journalists) are given a chance to interact. But, whenever such a scenario comes up, a separate session is scheduled for media interaction.

The Press Officer, who claimed to have decades’ experience, perhaps did not realise the seriousness of the situation and offered no time for media to interact with Chu.

Meanwhile, a young journalist from a leading channel stood up and asked a question, which Chu answered.

Chu did not seem to have any problems in answering media questions. But his team did.

The question remains – why did you invite media then? An option for the Press Officer was to say in the Media Advisory – photo coverage only. This would have meant that only photo journalists would have gone to the event and captured the event in photographs. We all know -- A picture is worth a thousand words.

The question that arises after such incidents is should media ignore such behaviour as unprofessional accidents or the fraternity is taken for granted?

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Published on April 19, 2013
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