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Fr. Francis Karackatt defends his PhD Thesis in Journalism

By Bobby Kannazhath SDB
Doctoral Defense of Fr. Francis Karackatt SDB
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Bangalore, Mar. 16. Fr. Francis Karackatt SDB of the Salesian Province of Bangalore successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis in Journalism at Kariavattom campus of Kerala University on 13 March 2015. His doctoral thesis on the highly relevant theme 'Ethics of Print Media Journalism in Kerala' came in for unanimous appreciation from both examiners and a packed hall of audience present on the occasion.
The data for the study was gathered from among 500  readers  and 260 journalists of four major dailies circulated in Kerala, Malayala Manorama and Mathrubumi in Malayalam,  and The Hindu and The New Indian Express in English.  To compliment the survey data, a content analysis of these four dailies over a period of time was also taken up by the researcher. Intensive interviews with the chief editors of each of these dailies were also done to seek clarifications and explanations from the newspaper management on trends indicated in the survey.

The following are some of the findings of the study.

1. Credibility of journalists is on the wane.
2. Deadline is journalists' prime pressure in their working environment.
3. News is reasonably objective.
4. Sensationalisation of news is on looming mode.
5. Commercialisation trends are in nascent stage.
6. There is considerable degree of sensibility in reporting cases of sexual assault and communal disputes.
7. There is significant level of commitment to crusade against social evils.
8. There is blatant negligence in acknowledgement of errors.
9. There is glaring imbalance in editorial mix.
10. Crime stories constitute nearly one-third of the editorial content in Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhumi and The New Indian Expres.
11. The lowest domain is for environment, agriculture, health, and women's issues.
12. Malayalam newspapers have acute shortage of national and international news.

''The work done by Fr. Francis Karakatt is a stand out in terms of depth, thoroughness and scientific precision in methodology,'' observed Dr. Kiran Prasad, Mahila University, Tirupathi, who was the chief examiner. ''It is highly recommended for immediate publication,'' She said. The comments and observations from the other two readers, Dr. Arul Aram Anna from the University of Chennai and Dr. Balasubramaniam from Bangalore University were also read out on the occasion by the chief examiner. They too had explicit words of praise on the methodology adopted, the quality of language used and analytical precision.

Dr. J.V Vilanilam, former Vice chancellor of Kerala University and the research guide of Fr. Francis, described his student as very diligent and hardworking and said that the findings of the study call for a revamp of the existing mode of journalistic operations from the part of newspaper management and journalists to restore credibility and probity in newspaper journalism.  

There was strong Salesian representation from the different presences of Kerala for the event.  Working journalists, past pupils of Don Bosco Arts and Science College, Angadikadavu, relatives of Fr. Francis, priests from Trivandrum Archdiocese including Msgr. George Paul, research scholars, and parishioners also witnessed the event.
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