Fulbright Fellow brings Indian culture to Winthrop

Indian journalist and Fulbright scholar, Triveni Mathur, shared her insight on global advertising.

“The world population is about 7 billion. India has a population of about 1.2 billion with at least 22 languages. These are the challenges that India faces in its media,” said Dr. Triveni Goswami Mathur.

A Fulbright-Nehru Visiting Lecturer Fellow at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va., Mathur was invited to Winthrop University by Professor of Mass Communication, Padmini Patwardhan.  Patwardhan taught Mathur in the beginning of her career.

“When we gained independence in 1947, the media was focused on activism. The line between activism and journalism did not exist because of that focus,” Mathur said when she addressed students on Nov. 6 and 7 in Johnson Hall with concerns to media ethics, culture, and advertising in India.

At the beginning of her first lecture, Mathur invited students to guess the number of newspapers and television stations in India. “There are over 82,000 newspapers and 600 television stations in India,” she said.

Mathur touched upon the 24/7 live coverage of the 2008 terrorist attacks on the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, India when she discussed media ethics. “The terrorists inside the hotel with the people were watching the coverage live in the hotel rooms,” Mathur said.  “This brought up the debate about whether the media should be regulated.”

So far no attempt to curtail the media in India has ever worked—except once.

“Self-regulation is the only way the media in India can survive,” Mathur said. A world-wide survey has confirmed India as a country whose media practiced completely objective reporting in the wake of Sept. 11.

When speaking of   advertising in India, Mathur noted India’s diversity and values using a Honey Bunny advertisement as an example. The ad showed people from different regions and social classes saying “Honey Bunny.”

“Honey bunny” was a phrase used as a common link to different regions of India and even regions of the United States.

“Even when you go to poor areas, you will see that people are generally happy,” Mathur said.

Mathur earned her Ph.D in communication and journalism from the University of Pune, India where she currently serves as a visiting professor. Completely associated with the university’s study abroad program, Alliance for Global Education, Mathur teaches Contemporary Indian Studies to international students.

Previously, Mathur worked as a reporter with the Indian Express and also as a staff reporter with the Press Trust of India.  She credits her pursuit of journalism to her mother. “My mother was a pioneering journalist in India,” Mathur said. “She worked for BBC.”

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