CARMA 2013 – Learning About And Reflection Over Journalism.

Media is what you create. CARMA 2013 was an unprecedented example of a reflection over journalism, media, reporters and those very idiosyncrasies which have enveloped our news channels. Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) organized a four days of Convention for Aspiring Reporters and Media Anchors (CARMA) 2013; Pakistan’s first journalism event. A delegation of four YES alumni, namely Aown Shahzad, Faryal Hasan, Irfan Tahir and Osama Rind, participated in the conference to imbibe knowledge about the workings of the media as well as impart their wisdom towards its betterment.

Journalism – revered for its pivotal role in enlightening people – is fast becoming prey to sensationalism, losing its sense of purpose in the process. The aim of providing news to the people without manipulating or enhancing it is often usurped by efforts to make it more commercial, a tendency borne out of the competitive nature of the journalism industry. Reliance on petty pop culture, exaggeration, insensitive coverage and gore in order to make news more sellable or to up its shock value has become a norm, as a result of which, the voice of journalism has been warped. Not only has this led to social and political problems of a grand scale, but to a tarnished national image and a loss of faith in the media as well. The theme for CARMA ’13,Metamorphosis of Voice addressed these problems, none of which are irremediable and yet require the attention of media personnel as well as the youth.

Shootout was the most exciting and overwhelming event of CARMA- the flagship event of LDS, whereby delegates had to electronically record the development of a fictitious crime story and then compile and edit the video. Shootout aimed to bring out field-reporting skills in the delegates, amidst chaos and quick development of events. Normally, a lot of extrinsic factors came into play when reporters arrived at a crime scene: they were not allowed to enter the area and there was a race to get to the news before the competitor does. Witnesses had to be instantly interviewed and news to be broadcasted live to the masses. This year, the shootout was based on the story of ‘Kashi Rockstar’ and the government’s concealed plans to establish a ’15-stars’ hotel in space.

The event named ‘Discover the Difference’ was the most productive with the team securing 2nd position out of a myriad of delegations. This 2-phase event focused on bringing to light inherent biases in the way individuals and new agencies report information and how best to make it more comprehensive and objective. The phenomena of egocentrism- believing one’s viewpoint to be the correct one- is also delved into.

Eye cannot see what mind does not know. There is no substitute for public awareness and participation. Although, the world has advanced a lot and education is becoming increasingly common, there is still an absence of awareness. Public information and awareness are factors often overlooked. It is essential that the public is informed about the benefits and limitations. Public awareness is particularly important and therefore this year, CARMA introduced this event “Public Service Messages”. Teams had to prepare a very short video of 30-120 seconds in which they were to convey one message to public. Our team focused on the one of the very ubiquitous issues around Pakistan i.e. ‘Rape’ and compiled a short video on it.

‘Anchor It’ introduced participants to news casting and talk show hosting, teaching them the art of delivering prepared news as well as speaking impromptu, in front of a camera as well as a live audience. In ‘Print Pandemonium’, delegates had to act as external news agencies covering CARMA and make a compact 4-sided newsletter about the events that took place. The ‘Investigate Journalism Event’ was designed to test the investigative abilities of delegates.

CARMA ’13 didn’t forget the entertainment factor. Noori’s concert was the highlight of the social events. Hands in the air, mingled with the cacophony of laughter and noise that had filled the hall.

It is true that ‘Journalism never admits that nothing much is happening.’ The concern, however, is that are we voicing the right?