The Mina Swaminathan Media Fellowship (MSMF) is an annual award given to regional language journalists based in Odisha, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, who are interested in finding their niche in development journalism in India. Although the Fellowship is centered around gender reporting, every year new dimensions are added to enhance the fellowship experience. With 2023 declared as the International Year of Millets, the theme was carefully selected to encourage fellows to investigate the linkages and inequalities surrounding gender and millets in the three states of Odisha, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.
2023 Media Fellows are:
- Ms Prativa Ghosh from Prameya newspaper
- Mr K Rajendran from Kairali News
- Mr E Mohan from BBC News (Tamil)
A full-day orientation workshop was organised for the MSMF awardees on March 22nd at MSSRF’s Chennai office to introduce the theme, concepts and various dimensions linking gender and millets, as well as work done by MSSRF in two the areas. The workshop also helped with facilitating interactions between the media persons and scientists based at the Jeypore and Wayanad centres.
Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chairperson MSSRF, addressed the awardees through a recorded video message emphasising the role media plays in taking science-based evidence to policymakers and the layman. She spoke about the significance of the Fellowship in highlight gender-related issues at the grassroots, and also laid out the expectations from the awardees in the end.
Dr R Rengalakshmi, Director Ecotechnology, and Dr Oliver King, Director Biodiversity, presented on the concepts and work done by MSSRF, while Mr Girijan Gopi, Senior Development Coordinator, MSSRF CAbC Wayanad, and Mr Prashant Parida, Development Coordinator, BPTABC Jeypore, provided the scenario from their respective states.
Dr Nithya Rao, Professor of Gender and Development UEA, and Trustee MSSRF, and Dr Nalini Krishnan Founder of REACH are mentors for MSMF. They interacted with the fellows, and provided nuances on the subject as well as ideas on how to generate stories on the fellowship topic. Mr A S Paneerselvan, formerly with The Hindu as Ombudsmen, and now a Fellow at the Centre for Public Sphere at Roja Muthaiah Research Library, Chennai, offered a session on the ‘act of verification’ for science reporting. He laid emphasis on the importance of listening, verifying data, and interpreting the unseen information to help ordinary people understand the whole picture.
Ms Sangeetha Rajeesh, Director of Communications for MSSRF, facilitated the workshop and also took a participatory session on framing the gender-millet story. The fellows came up with story frames and narratives to link gender with production, processing, consumption, value-addition, and marketing of major and minor millets.
The Mina Swaminathan Fellowship constituted in 2020-21, aims to intensify focus on the theme of gender in MSSRF. It is in recognition of Ms Mina Swaminathan’s contribution to operationalising gender and development as part of the institution’s core commitment to a pro-woman, pro-poor and pro-nature approach. The main objective of the Mina Swaminathan Media Fellowship (MSMF) is to promote the exchange of ideas between researchers and the media / press persons for greater partnerships between science and media.