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Say No to Stigma and Discrimination: Verdict of media meet on Coronavirus, its impact on society

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INDORE: 'Saying No to Stigma' was the message that came out of media meet foucusing on COVID19 and its impact on society.

The participants stressed on the need to stop discrimination and ward off stigma regarding Covid19, in this discussion. Around 75 participants from media and media students participated in the same from Bhopal, Indore and other parts of Madhya Pradesh on Googlemeet platform.

Prof Sanjay Dwivedi, Director General, Indian Institute of Mass Communication, in his address spoke on the unique challenge of COVID19, issue of stigma and need to bring out stories from rural parts of India. He appreciated the efforts of government and how media was able to spread the message of prevention of COVID19 to all.

He thanked efforts of UNICEF to engage with communicators to take up the challenge of stigma and discrimination. Sharad Dwivedi, Group Editor Bansal News, spoke on the challenge of Infodemic, time to rebuild and retain focus on stories of COVID19 warriors, in addition to the focus of treatment which is in centre of attention.

Zafrin Chowdhury, Chief of Communications, Advocacy and Partnerships, UNICEF India, in her address, spoke about the National campaign to address stigma and discrimination, stressing the need to highlight stories of Corona Heroes, create positive environment for the ones who have been infected with the virus, and not stigmatize them, which may lead people to hide their infection and not get treatment.

She added that media is playing its part however, we need to sustain that discourse, increase further to help in reducing stigma and discrimination, and reduce fear and anxiety. She requested Institutes of higher learning to incorporate Public Health and Child Rights in their media curriculums.

Sudhir Gore, Editor NaiDunia, Digital, shared the stories, and examples covered by their website of COVID19 warriors, fact check system which they had adopted and media literacy campaign which was done by them. He spoke about the challenge in these time for media, however stressed that there is still lot of space for stories which matter to people.

He also stressed on the need to share guidelines as developed by International agencies for shaping discourse. Dr Sonalee Nargunde. Dr Sonalee Nargunde, Head of Department of School of Journalism and Mass Communication, DAVV, Indore said that this is part of process, which DAVV and UNICEF will continue to work, including having thematic sessions on child rights and to incorporate child rights in the media curriculum.

Anil Gulati, Communication Specialist, UNICEF, Madhya Pradesh coordinated the session and the objective of this meet and need to take the process forward. Sonia Sarkar, Communication Officer, UNICEF India shared that how media has helped and can further stress to focus of COVID19 appropriate behaviors.

Participants suggested that there is a need for content analysis and develop a toolkit, to lessen stigma and discrimination due to any media reports, apart from need to sustain the focus on stigma and discrimination, increasing stories from rural parts, the challenge on social distancing and use of facemask as markets open up etc. The programme was organised under the aegis of School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Devi Ahiyala VishwaVidyala, Indore and UNICEF.