Qwestion & Answer with Dr. Serajul Bhuiyan, Professor and Former Chair, SSU Dept. of Journalism and Mass Communications

Madelynne Kislovsky August 25, 2020

Qwoted is committed to exploring the current state of the media by speaking to industry leaders and educating future generations of media professionals. What has social media and technological innovation brought to the table? What can we expect for the future of journalism?

Professor Serajul Bhuiyan in a suit and tie smiling at the camera from behind his work desk.

Dr. Serajul Bhuiyan is a tenured professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications at Savannah State University. He was born in Bangladesh and immigrated to the U.S. in 1991. He has served as a department chair and graduate programs director for over 18 years, with 30+ years of experience teaching and leading education departments, both in the U.S. and overseas. Dr. Bhuiyan previously served as a reporter and editor for print media in Asia and the United States and has contributed columns and editorials to several publications across the globe. As a reporter, his 2001 interview of former President Jimmy Carter for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer in Georgia made national and international headlines. Dr. Bhuiyan produced a three-part documentary focusing on ‘Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Carbon Emission’ in the world in the future with Nobel Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus. He also interviewed former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. Dr. Bhuiyan has led the Business and Applied Sciences Academy of North America (BAASANA) as its senior vice president since 2012.

As an administrator, Dr. Bhuiyan feels challenged by managing departments with limited funds. In the same breath, he is rewarded by the opportunity to improve continually within his role and contribute valuable efforts to his department and the institution of Savannah State, including securing funds for two computer labs and recruiting key faculty and other resources for his department. Dr. Bhuiyan also led his department to ACEJMC Accreditation by preparing Self-Study documents from scratch within a short period of time.

Q: What are you hearing from your students or members about their ambitions and hope for the profession?

SB: Tech-savvy millennials and gen Z are interested in reading less, and watching or listening more, and they are more interested in digitizing news through social media. They embrace a culture that values community participation in journalism instead of “we talk, you listen.” They do not care about gatekeeping in journalism and prefer a more conversational model.

Q: What learnings have made a tremendous difference in your career?

SB: As a journalist, I was a tenacious, courageous, critical thinker dedicated to accuracy and media ethics regardless of the medium or platform. I never accepted no for an answer from bureaucrats during my newsgathering. I cultivated a substantial professional network for newsgathering that opened many different professional opportunities.

Q: What are some of the best practices from journalism’s past that you feel need to be utilized now?

SB: Efficient writing, research and fact-checking information for accuracy and context, storytelling through technology, and maintaining ethical principles are some of the most important universal values of journalism. The importance of educating and engaging audiences to participate in societal functions has remain unchanged.

Q: What do you think about the role of technology in journalism? Is it helpful? Harmful? Something in between?

SB: The prospect of the media industry depends on digitization. New technology plays a vital role in shaping the future, and the delivery of news to a digital audience is a significant trend. It gives access to the resources, engages audience, and makes news more accessible and interactive.

Q: Social media has upended the traditional media landscape. One of the great challenges it creates is authenticity and malevolent actors. How do think journalists and reporters should deal with the rising tide of misinformation?

SB: Due to digital manipulation, the authenticity of media content becomes threatened, and malevolent actors use technology and social media to circulate fake news and misinformation, undermining media outlets’ credibility and creating confusion, chaos, and conflict. As a result, mainstream media must continually maintain credibility through continuous fact-checking, verifying, and filtering out untruth information. This accentuates the need for critical thinking to evaluate intended ideas of misinformation, perspectives, and the current culture of conflict initiation. However, I have a ray of hope that technology will evolve and work to reduce and filter out disinformation from social platforms. Additionally, news organizations, NGOs, and other philanthropic organizations must come forward and initiate media literacy efforts to combat disinformation, misinformation, and fake news circulation.

Q: What do you see as some of journalism’s biggest potential pitfalls? And what gives you hope for the future of journalism?

SB: These are tumultuous times for the print media industry, as they face drastic downsizing and bankruptcy while digital journalism is on the rise and taking many forms. It’s true that traditional media outlets can adapt to our digital world, but local media outlets attract readers who are interested in smaller pieces of the bigger picture. Still, web journalism begs the question of source credibility. This becomes a more significant dilemma, because it is now up to readers to determine what is credible and what is not. As a result, major media outlets, including cable television news, radio broadcasts, and newspapers, are depicted as reporting stories with a bias. This might be accurate in instances of political reporting, but even unrelated can stories fall victim to politicization. The traditional Press freedom is continuously under threat and nonexistent in some countries around the world. In countries around the world, journalists are killed just for doing their jobs, and are often beaten or put in jail. I strongly believe that with the advancement of technology, professional journalism will continue to thrive.

Q: Where do you get YOUR news from? Which publications do you like to read?

SB: My regular read is The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal. I listen to NPR while driving and watch CNN, MSNBC, and C-Span in the evening. I am also a regular reader of The Chronicle of Higher Education to stay informed about the academic world.