‘Don’t look at media through a bipolar prism of East versus West’ #RadioAsia

Thursday 12 July, 2018
Speaking in this morning’s session of Media2020, All India Radio Director General Fayyaz Sheheryar encouraged Eastern and Western media to understand each other better, rather than taking adversarial positions on media issues.

“The world looks different and is often bipolar between east and west. History, geography and culture can change how we think and how we look at each other, we must resist this and try to understand each other.

“We have begun to see through a bipolar prism, creating a kind of ruckus inside the media industry… We need to bring harmony to media organisations across the world.

“In the west people think of themselves as highly independent individuals, but not everyone thinks that way. We need to move on from the bipolar view of media as western and eastern…”

Sheheryar mentioned a few examples of the lack of understanding, saying these problems of perception need to be fixed by dialog and growing understanding.

“China says 60% of western media reports on China are negative. They claim that western media plays up the weaknesses of Chinese media, ignore the successes and highlight the potential for conflict.

“There is similar trends for Islamic media, criticising the over reliance on using government officials and lack of independence of news media.

The West perceives that Chinese, Russian and Islamic media are characterised by political and cultural bias, according to Sheheryar, but this view is too simplistic and it does not reflect deeper understanding of the values of each type of media.

“In All India Radio we have a service motivation.. we are run by the government but also take commercial revenue. In spite of government funding for the infrastructure we have resisted external control… we serve our charter which makes us act in the interests of the people,” he said.

John Maguire, Director of International Relations and Cooperation at France Medias Monde, recalled his youth at the University of Galway to address the question of cross cultural media understanding.

“At that time there was conflict in my country, it was the time of the Cold War and the Vietnam war… The world was a simpler place, with no mobiles or computers. Audio Visual media was limited. There was not the amount of information available now and everything was local.

“I didn’t know where Kazakhstan was, all I knew was that there were missiles and tensions between Russia and America.

“Despite all the conflict and tension at that time, the media was trusted to bring in as much information as possible. The worrying thing for me is that there is a big difference now. Media is not respected.”

McGuire made the point that, in the past, media was the fourth estate which provided a check and balance to government and power. However, due to the breakdown of trust in media, and the privatisation and commercialisation of media there is one less element of society that is acting in the interests of the people. He says that media is now in a fragile position.

“People are now in their bubbles and not listening to other opinions. The role of the media is now fragile

“The hope that we had when I was 18 was that we would all work together with common values, but what we are seeing now is that we are pulling apart...

“We have failed as media because we have failed to listen to what people are saying. If there is a lack of trust in media it is because we have been perceived as elite, this has caused a disconnect between what people are really thinking and talking about… it has made the world a very dangerous place.”

In the same session, Claudio Cappon, Secretary General, COPEAM said the Mediterrian "is a region of much cultural interaction and diversity… it is an example of how diversity can be transformed into richness. COPEAM has the ambition to promote cooperation via the media."

“What we learned is that diversity is richness. We are facing some political difficulties at the moment but what is important and rewarding is that as media professionals we can be a communty.”

Alan Azhibayev, Chairman of the Khabar Agency in Kazakhstan and former Vice Minister of Communications talked about the best strategy for cooperation.

“We need to know how to tell the world about our culture, so we are keen to collaborate with other broadcasters to explore the best ways to do that…

“Fake news is a common problem, strong tradational media helps prevent fake news. We can explain true news to the audience.”

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