Thursday, December 24, 2015

Foreword to Media Tides on Kerala Coast

Media Tides on Kerala Coast by Dr Iris, published by Media House, Delhi, is based on a Univrsity Grants Commission funded research project on the impact of the media on a coastal community near Thiruvananthapuram. Reproduced below is the Foreword of the book.

Kerala is a State with a high degree of media penetration. High levels of literacy, reading habit and purchasing capacity enabled newspapers in Malayalam to forge ahead of those in other Indian languages in the last century and achieve much higher circulations than them. The radio and the television which made their appearance later also registered remarkable growth.

Media institutions have championed many causes from time to time and they routinely make claims about the impact they are making. Often these claims are based on some action initiated by the authorities in response to their reports. Neither the print media nor the electronic media has any reliable mechanism for properly assessing their impact on the society. There are also no organizations to monitor the performance of the media as a whole or of individual media institutions from the standpoint of the communities they are seeking to serve. Against this background, Dr. Iris Koileo’s study of the representation and impact of the media in the coastal area of Thiruvananathapuram under a minor research project funded by the University Grants Commission is a path-breaking one.

Kerala’s social indices compare favourably with those of the advanced countries of the world. It is now a comparatively affluent State, accounting for the highest per capita income as well as expenditure in the country. However, there is wide social and economic disparity within the State. The traditional fishing communities living on the western coast, along with the Adivasis inhabiting the hills in the east and the Dalits scattered all across the plains constitute a highly disadvantaged group. The study looks at the extent to which the media has been able to do justice to this highly vulnerable section of the population.

While all forms of media – print, radio, television –have penetrated the coastal belt, the problems of the people of the region do not receive adequate attention. On the basis of her findings, Dr. Koileo has recommended some measures to remedy the situation. They include creation of awareness in the marginalized community on the ways of the media and bringing about changes in the media’s policy towards representation of the community. This pioneering effort clearly points to the need for more academic studies of wider scope which will help both the media and the society.

May 9, 2015                                                                                        B.R.P. Bhaskar

Media House,
375-A, Pocket 2,
Mayur Vihar Phase I,
Delhi 110 091

Price: Rs 150.  US $10.