Invited Speaker at King’s College London- Assistant Professor Taberez Ahmed Neyazi

Dr. Taberez Ahmed Neyazi has been invited to speak at the Transnational Law Summit 2018, which is being convened under the theme: The New Human Condition: Creating Justice for Our Future at King’s College London, from 10-13 April 2018. As part of the critical inquiry into the crisis of democracy, the rise of authoritarianism and populism the Summit will discuss on the crucial role of journalism in activism and societal reaction.  Dr. Neyazi will be speaking on the impact of new media on political ‘voice’, protest and representation, as part of a deeper inquiry into the ‘transformation of the public sphere’ and into new formations of resistance and democratic power. The participants in the Summit include Journalists, Artists, Academics, International Organisations, NGOs, Cities, Courts, Social Movements, and the Arts.

Random Blends 2018

Random Blends is 10 years old. It’s the showcase event for NUS’ Department of Communications and New Media, and will feature over 25 compelling projects by students, alumni and staff. Playing on the prefix ‘re’- commonly used in reduce, reuse and recycle– Random Blends is our re:ply to an environment desperately crying out for change. We challenge your ideas about the environment through interactive and out-of-this-world exhibits. Experience innovative applications of technology, and join us as we explore the socio-political environments that surround us. Immerse yourself in thought-provoking artifacts, stories and campaigns that are firmly anchored in urgent social issues.

Together with Zero Waste SG, PM Haze, Seastainable Co.,The Sustainability Project, Books and Beer, and Haikini, CNM invites you to a space of collective responses, thoughts, emotions and hopes for environmental sustainability. Be part of a unique eco-sustainability movement that blends modern tech with environmental awareness.

Random Blends will be at University Town on 5 – 6 April 2018. Join us!

Opinion: Rahul Gandhi In Singapore- The Truth Vs The Fake

Professor Mohan Dutta discusses the controversy generated by a question and answer (Q&A) session with Mr. Rahul Gandhi, leader of the opposition party, Indian National Congress, during his visit to the Lee Kwan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore. Gandhi’s style of participation in the question and answer session, the article argues, teaches the world the spirits of argumentation and dialogue that form the soul of Indian democracy.

Theoretically and empirically, I have many points of disagreement with Rahul Gandhi. I disagree with his unfettered celebration of connectivity and fiber optic cables when narrating the story of India at the cost of obfuscating the narratives of poverty, in access, and inequality.

Source: The Citizen

CNM Alumnus Ashok Kumar Scales New Heights With Charitable Cause

Now a celebrity with a unique social initiative, Ashik Ashokan is a CNM alumnus who is making waves, one charitable cause at a time.

Heart2Climb was founded by Ashik and his former Innova Junior College classmate Ashok Kumar in 2014. To date, they have raised raised a total of $200,000. They are currently embarking on a new adventure to the world’s highest volcano Ojos Del Salado in South America. They aim to be the first Singaporeans to complete the 7 volcanic summits.

The beneficiary of their present expedition is the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH), which supports Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents with certified low vision or blindness. The motivation behind this climb is to highlight the challenges that the handicapped face on a daily basis. According to Ashik, they climb mountains every day.

Ashik currently works as a digital strategist with VML Southeast Asia & India. He specialises in target audience analysation and also client liaison.

Central to his success are the many opportunities that were available while he was a Communications and New Media student in NUS. As a hardworking sub-editor of the NUS CNM magazine Campus Eye, Ashik helped cover hot topics like the 2015 General Elections- interviewing key politicians and the public.

Working with companies such as Grab and Sony Pictures after graduation, he developed a keen sense of working closely with companies and other initiatives. In the initial stages of Heart2Climb, he had a difficult time trying to secure sponsorships. However, through sheer grit and hard work, he succeeded in convincing Starhub and RedBull to sponsor his first expedition and social initiative.

Written by Aby Tirza, CNM Student, Year 2

CNM’s Participation at Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

Marie Angela Ordoñez recently presented at the 2nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Papua New Guinea Communications Capacity Building Workshop.

Held at the historic Port Moresby between December 7 and 8, the workshop aims to help the government of Papua New Guinea foresee and overcome logistical and communications challenges as the country prepares to host the APEC forums in 2018.

The presentations were based on her experience in coordinating operations as a government communications officer when Philippines hosted APEC in 2015, with topics spanning from media evaluation and messaging traction, to crisis management, and inter-agency coordination and media operations.

Marie, or Magel as we know her in CNM, is currently a 2nd year Master’s candidate. She is working on her thesis with Dr. Elmie Nekmat to examine the formation and effects of public opinion perception on individual expression and information credibility evaluation in social media.

We wish Magel the best for her studies and look forward to her future contribution to the field!

Political Communication and Mobilisation: The Hindi Media in India- By Assistant Professor Taberez Ahmed Neyazi

Any generalisation about the Indian media is problematic because there are diverse media systems within the country. The Hindi language media has the widest circulation, reaching almost 40 per cent of India’s total population, and the Hindi- speaking population accounts for over 40 per cent of the national population and is regionally concentrated in the northern and central parts of India. The success of the Hindi media should not be compared with other vernacular language media such as Tamil and Bengali, because the Hindi language press enjoyed state support both during the colonial period and in newly independent India that helped the Hindi media attain privileged status. Hindi, together with other vernacular media, has a far wider reach than the indigenous English media, catering to both elite and popular constituencies, and is a politically significant player. While the English language media is often described as the ‘national media’, its reach is limited to a much smaller percentage of the population – the English-speaking elites and the middle class. The process of political communication is, therefore, more nuanced because of the complexity and diversity of the Indian news media market than in most countries.

Moreover, the complexities associated with the size of the political economy of India requires special focus on how ethnic, religious and sectarian diversity impacts media markets/systems, political campaigning, protest movements and grassroots mobilisation. This is largely because of the many languages in India and the existence of numerous regional and local media systems in vernacular languages. Despite the fact that similar large economic forces operate in the globalising Indian market place, there are still stark socio-cultural differences in the media systems of different states in India and, thus, many media systems exist within one country. At the same time, the process of political communication is affected by the gap between urban and rural, as well as inter- and intra- state differences on various development indicators such as literacy, poverty, urbanisation and media availability. In contrast to many western democracies that have experienced a largely linear process of media evolution with the rise of print followed by radio then television and more recently the cell phone and the internet, India has witnessed tremendous growth across all media simultaneously over the past decade. The non-linear development of India’s communication processes and the proliferation of different sources of information have deepened the fragmentation in the already fragmented media.

Scholars writing about the Indian media tend to overlook these complexities and have focused instead on the Indian media as a singular entity. The lack of political autonomy is another issue that has been raised with respect to television and press. Since the rise of television in the 1990s, there is a growing literature suggesting the rise of ‘infotainment’, ‘Murdochisation of news’ and ‘commodification of news’ without reference to language, in part because these trends are common across most Hindi and vernacular media. Notwithstanding these shortcomings, news media in India has played a significant role in influencing politics and affected the transformation at the grassroots. There is a simultaneous presence of commercialisation and infotainment along with a concern for the poor and the marginalised in the Indian media. This hybrid character is clearly reflected in the Hindi media-mediated democratic transformation, defined here as mobilisation for electoral politics as well as civil society activism.

The core argument of this book is that the Hindi media has played and continues to play a catalytic role as mobilising agents in the ongoing democratic transformation in India. The mobilising role of the Hindi media was also evident in colonial India where the Hindi media aligned with the freedom struggle and helped mobilise public opinion against the British. Instead of viewing the Indian media as a singular entity, this book demonstrates its diversity and complexity to understand the changing dynamics of political communication that is shaped by the interactions among the news media, political parties and diverse public. In the process, I show the ways the media in India tread the diverse space in this comparatively young democracy by encouraging political and social mobilisation while dealing with complex local realities. I also show how the new forms of media are being used by people, movements and political parties for social and political mobilisation in a rapidly transforming media environment.

I provide insights into the profound and messy, yet quiet, transformations taking place in the countryside and small towns, away from the glare of the Delhi-based TV studios. In a growing economy such as India’s, what role do media play in mobilising political awareness? What role does the Hindi language media, accessed by over 40 per cent of the people, play in building this political awareness? And when nearly 30 per cent of the population is illiterate, how is the work of the media relevant to their lives?

This study is located in the larger context of mobilisation and political awakening that is growing at the grassroots level in India, and at an important juncture in the evolution of the Indian state when the Indian economy is increasingly driven by a private sector orientation after the economy began to open up after the financial crisis in 1991. Critics have questioned whether the neo-liberal measures have really helped improve life chances for the marginalised through betterment of education, health and job opportunities. This is where the rise of the vernacular media, which started to discuss local issues, politics and society of its own local public, assumes significance, since media plays both an important and a critical role in evaluating the day-to-day functioning of the state and society. There have also been growing debates about the increasing influence of markets and governments in the functioning of the media. Several studies have analysed the ramifications of the corporatisation of the media and ownership concentration for democracy. Along with the increasing commercialisation of media in India, there is a cosy relationship between the government, the media and corporations, as well as the issue of opaque media ownership. The phenomena of paid news, where media outlets produce content on behalf of politicians, celebrities and companies for payment that is passed off as news and not advertising, is a serious challenge that questions the independence of Indian media from external influence.

The instrumentalisation of media, where proprietors use media to advance their political and business interests outside of publishing instead of serving the public, is a major concern in the current context. Despite making financial losses, the media business offers disproportionate political gains and, hence, the media business cannot be understood solely in terms of profits and losses on the books or the way conventional businesses operate. The political elites, by using their power and political muscle, have inhibited news diversity and undermined the potential of the media to offer diverse perspectives on issues. The political economy of the media and convoluted media ownership is thus more complex in the Indian context than in other nations.

In my book- Political Communication and Mobilisation: The Hindi Media in India– I focus both on mobilisation for electoral politics, which has been the main concern of political scientists, as well as provide cases of grassroots mobilisation where citizens and groups from different class and caste backgrounds actively participate in mediated public arena activities. The book examines recent developments such as the movement against corruption led by Anna Hazare that propelled him and the country into world news throughout 2011 and mobilisation in the 2014 national election campaigns, and examines the interactions between traditional and social media and how they have changed the structures and dynamics of political communication in contemporary India.

Assistant Professor Taberez A Neyazi’s book, Political Communication and Mobilisation: The Hindi Media in India, is published by Cambridge University Press, and is out now.

The New Paper: NUS Communications and New Media’s Groundbreaking Module on Fake News Featured

NUS’ Department of Communications and New Media’s groundbreaking module- NM2303 Fake News, Lies and Spin: How to Sift Fact From Fiction– is featured in the New Paper.

To fight fake news, tertiary institutions have introduced lessons to help students differentiate fact from fiction. Three polytechnics and three universities told The New Paper they recently introduced courses to tackle the growing problem, which has worsened globally. This move is timely as the Government steps up its own battle against fake news…

Source: The New Paper

Team from NUS Communications and New Media Emerges as Champions for Pitch It 2017

The winners of Pitch It 2017 with the panel of judges from CNM, Visa Inc and BBDO Singapore.

By Deanne Galica

A team consisting of NUS Communications and New Media (CNM) students have emerged as the champion for Pitch It! 2017 after the grand finals held on November 10. Pitch It! 2017 is a tertiary-wide marketing competition organised by the CNM Society. This year, Pitch It! was organised in collaboration with Visa Inc and BBDO. The participating teams put together an integrated marketing campaign to address a challenge posed by Visa Inc.

After an elimination round, Visa Inc chose the top five teams who were then mentored by BBDO to refine their pitches. The challenge posed by VISA was – What can VISA do to shift brand perception from a credit card company to an innovative digital payment company amongst the Millennials?

In their campaign, the teams had to feature a wearable that showcases Visa Inc’s innovative digital payment capabilities.

The Winning Pitch

The winning pitch was a campaign titled #IAMVISA which aims to show how Visa can be a part of every millennial’s lifestyle. Their campaign was inspired by Calvin Klein’s 2016 Fall #mycalvins campaign. #IAMVISA features a playful take on VISA with each letter taking on a personality type –

V for Versatile
I for Intellectual
S for Simplistic
A for Adventurous

Phase One is a social media campaign featuring the different personality types to introduce #IAMVISA and act as a pretext for the next phase of the campaign.

Phase Two is a festival inspired by Art Box where attendees can pay using a temporary tattoo embedded with a VISA chip that flaunts VISA Inc’s digital payment innovation. The festival will be held across two weekends with each day featuring one personality type. Each personality type will be tied to a charity organisations and 10% of proceeds from the festival will be donated to these organisations.

Phase Three incorporates the different personality type into VISA cards with each card featuring a personality type.

The panel of judges consisting of personnel from CNM, VISA Inc and BBDO, unanimously chose the winning pitch. The judges were impressed with the cohesiveness of the winning team’s multi-pronged approach, backed by insightful research.

The Champions

The winning team consists of Cory Cheang Yi Jun, Pang Hui Ping, Taylor Chia Shi-Yen, Isabelle Anastasia Tan Yinn Lyn and Alvarez Brielle Clavel. All of whom are in their second year.

“The greatest difficulty we faced was juggling between school work and the competition,” said Cheang.

The winners walked away with an iPad Mini 4 each.

The Organisers

Behind the success of Pitch It! 2017 is the CNM Society. Led by Jasmine Chong and Deanne Galicia, Pitch It! was the biggest project for the society. The organisers faced setbacks initially with difficulty in securing partnerships with organisations. The partnership with Visa Inc was eventually secured with the help of an alumni.

“The competition was a year in the making. It was a huge undertaking! We reached out to many organisations and faced a lot of rejection. The real work hit us when we finally secured a partner client. From doing school visits to other tertiary institutions to managing communications with all parties involved. We spent countless hours planning everything to the last detail. In the end, it was all worth it because we truly believe Pitch It! is an incredible learning experience. Even [the planning committee] learnt a lot!” said Chong.

Pitch It! 2018 is under way and the planning has already begun. For the next edition, the CNM Society is looking to tap into the Institute of Public Relations Singapore and CNM’s Industry Advisory Council to find a partner client.

More about Pitch It! 2017

Pitch It! 2017 is the third edition of the competition. Past clients include Singapore Press Holdings and Mediacorp. This year, students from National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Management University, Singapore University of Social Sciences, Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic, Nanyang Polytechnic and General Assembly participated in the competition. There were 23 teams and a total of 107 participants.

Catch more of Pitch It! 2017 at the official gallery.

Want To Work With CNM?

Excited about what we’re doing at CNM? If you are a company, and want to work with our students, reach out to us by leaving a comment below.

Lu Weiquan Empowers Teaching Through Augmented Reality Tool

Assistant Professor Lu Weiquan describing CNM’s modules to a potential student at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences’ Open House

Although games popularised the use of Augmented Reality (AR) in our daily lives, its real power lies in its potential to transform education. Which is why Assistant Professor Lu Weiquan’s innovative tool ConjAR- a mobile AR scene-authoring tool for designing AR scenes within an AR environment- received so much attention at the recent National Conference on Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL).

A Straits Times article extols ConjAR as a mobile application that:

…runs as a mobile application, and allows users to design and showcase 3D augmented reality scenes without prior training. For example, if a professor wants to explain the brain to his class, he can download a 3D image of a brain from the Internet, and create a model that can be turned and shifted while he is conducting his lesson.

Source: The Straits Times

Another demonstration of how NUS’ Department of Communications and New Media’s teaching and research continues to break new ground in bridging the diverse threads of emerging fields and future work.

Opinion: Harassment, Silences and Indian Academia- by Mohan J Dutta

Professor Mohan J Dutta writes a powerful piece about sexual harassment and the criminal silence that frequently follows:

The story of Chuni Kotal of Gohaldohi village haunts me.

Each time I remember the story, I, an upper caste, upper class, heterosexual male who has built my career from fieldwork in these haunted spaces of Paschim Midnapur, writing stories of hunger and suffering, feel the pain and the shame, and the sense of my own caste complicity crawls up my skin.

I was 19 when Kotal committed suicide in my hometown, Kharagpur, a few miles from where I was studying at the elite Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).

As the first woman from her long-stigmatised community to attend college, Kotal struggled through the everyday racisms that are built into progressive performing Bengali bhadralok society.

Kotal, a young Adivasi and the first woman graduate among her tribe of the Lodha Shavars, committed suicide on August 16, 1992 at the age of 27.

The cause of Kotal’s death: the ongoing caste-based harassment and discrimination she faced in various academic institutions, and more proximately, in her telling, at the hands of her professor, Falguni Chakarvarti, at Vidyasagar University. At the time of her death, Kotal was pursuing her MA in anthropology.

Harassment, Silences and Indian Academia