“Citizen Journalism is a great equalizer between an active citizen and mainstream media”, said well known author Margaret Mascarenhas addressing the participants after inaugurating the 3-day Citizen Journalism Workshop organized by the JM Foundation for Excellence in Journalism in association with the Goa Union of Journalism. About 40 persons from Goa, Delhi and Karnataka are participating in this workshop conducted at the Inspectorate of Factories and Boilers in Panjim.
Pointing out the need for citizens’ participation in a democracy, she also spoke about the vast possibilities of citizen participation and citizen journalism, especially its ability to herald change. “With technology easing up,” she said, “citizens have no excuse not to participate.”
Goa Union of Journalists President Prakash Kamat said that citizen journalism both compliments and supplements mainstream media. Kamat also used Gandhi’s dictum about giving more democracy if it fails and said, “If journalism fails, then give more journalism.” At the same time, however, he cautioned that citizen journalism should not fall a prey to false propaganda.
JM Foundation Official Shishir Joshi exhorted the participants to become active agents of change through the practice of citizen journalism and reporting on issues that affect the lives in their communities.
First day session by GOACAN founder Roland Martins on civic engagement and consumer protection educated the participants about the possibilities of civic activism. It also showed ways in which the participants could engage within their own communities. Martins said, “There is ample scope for participation. We must also appreciate what we have.” He said that after 450 years of colonial rule, the people in Goa need to value what they have, and work towards becoming an emancipated citizenry.
Other sessions included one by advocate Jamshed Mistry who has been actively engaged in restoring safety measures on the beaches of Goa. He spoke about the legal ramifications of citizen journalism and citizen involvement, and how ordinary citizens have been able to bring out significant changes in the laws of the land.