Department of Mass Communication – Virtual University of Pakistan Organized Webinar on “COVID-19: Impact and Role of Mass Media during Pandemic”

The Department of Mass Communication, Virtual University of Pakistan organized a one-day webinar titled “COVID-19: Impact and Role of Mass Media during Pandemic” on Tuesday, September 8, 2020. The purpose of the webinar was to highlight the role and impact of mass media during the pandemic situation; the speakers discussed how COVID-19 has changed media engagements, posed new challenges and the provision of opportunities for mass media. Renowned media experts and professors were invited as the speakers. A large number of students, faculty members and executives attended the webinar. The Chief Guest of the webinar was Mr. Naeem Tariq, Rector Virtual University of Pakistan.

The program started with the opening comments of Professor. Dr. Najma Najam (Advisor Academics, Virtual University of Pakistan). In her remarks, she highlighted the positive role of media during the pandemic situation; she explained how mass education can help to cope with the worst situation. She suggested that by using online forum people can contribute greatly to the safety of the society during this pandemic situation.

Mr. Naeem Tariq, Rector Virtual University of Pakistan, in his opening remarks expressed that media played an important role during the COVID-19 to keep the public aware about the pandemic situation all over the world. He advised to adopt the preventive measures against COVID-19 and highlighted that media can play a significant role in controlling COVID-19 and potentially saving lives.

The first speaker of the webinar Ms. Aniqa Nisar Khan (Anchorperson “Capital Live with Aniqa”, Capital TV, Islamabad) briefed about “Corona Virus and Awareness Creation Through Electronic Media:Filling in the Gaps”. Ms. Aniqa highlighted the affirmative and adverse aspects of the media coverage. Moreover, she discussed the baseless myths and rumors about COVID-19 in Pakistan. She added that electronic media has played a pivotal role in the dissemination of factual news to the masses during the pandemic. She mentioned that COVID-19 hygiene promotion messages and media campaigns on different media platforms helped the general public to understand the COVID-19 pandemic and its preventive measures.

Prof. Dr. Mujahid Mansoori (Columnist Daily Jang, Chairman Department of Mass Communication, Lahore Leads University, Former Faculty Member, Institute of Communication Studies, University of the Punjab, Lahore) was the second speaker of this webinar. He talked about “Mass Education with Special Reference to COVID-19 Crisis”. He discussed the four basic objectives of mass media that is, providing news information, formation of public opinion, entertainment, and mass education. He was of the view that mass education has been adversely ignored across the world. Moreover, he highlighted the strategic communication elements which are rational arguments, incentive and to create fear. He also talked about the effectiveness of development communication during such situations when masses not only need information but also wanted to rebuild their surroundings. He said that all the media organizations need to maintain the balance between strategic communication elements and development communication system. He believed that China’s response on COVID-19 has been remarkably appreciable.

The third and the last speaker of this seminar was Prof. Dr. Syed Abdul Siraj (Senior Professor & Head of Media Studies at Bahria University, Islamabad, Former Dean Social Sciences & Humanities, Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad). Speaking at the event, Professor Dr. Syed Abdul Siraj discussed various aspects of challenges faced by media during COVID-19. He lauded the positive role of social media during the pandemic. He was of the view that social media effectively helped to change the social behavior due to its localized nature. He appreciated the role of social media to form and adopt collective action by the people during quarantine.

He also stressed the need to develop a mechanism to combat misinformation and distinguishing between trustworthy and untrustworthy sources on social media.

He called upon the research scholars to carry out content analysis of social and traditional media content. He further highlighted the role of social media in order to develop a new phenomenon by setting agenda for mainstream media. Each talk was followed by a question and answer session.

Concluding the webinar, Prof. Dr. Najma Najam thanked all the speakers, faculty members and participants for their active participation.