Panel 2: Is Science meant for ‘Breaking News’?

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News media in present times, and electronic/digital news media, in particular, suffers the compulsion of ‘breaking news’ every day, and in fact every hour in many cases. What this implies is the inevitable sensationalization of news and a disproportionate emphasis on packaging rather than content. In such a scenario, science news faces the double whammy of denial of space and/or distorted presentation.

How do scientists see this problem?

How do science journalists and editors in different media work with and around their mandates to present the right news at the right time?

This panel will look at the realities of science reporting vis-a-vis the breaking news culture, and try to arrive at ways and means to present scientific news in a timely manner and with a proper perspective.


  • Prof. Priyadarshi Patnaik, Head, Rekhi Centre of Excellence for the Science of Happiness, Professor, Dept. of Humanities & Social Sciences, IIT Kharagpur
  • Prof. Sunando Dasgupta, Professor, Dept. of Chemical Engineering, IIT Kharagpur
  • Prof. Somnath Roy, Associate Professor, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Kharagpur
  • Indrajit Kundu, Associate Editor, India Today
  • Amal Sarkar, Chief of News Bureau, Ei Samay
  • Amit Sengupta, Head of Media and Communications – East and Northeast, British High Commission, India

Priyadarshi Patnaik is a well-known author, poet and illustrator. He is also Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences, Head of the Rekhi Centre of Excellence for the Science of Happiness and Co-Professor-in-Charge, Academy of Classical and Folk Arts. His research explores Indian aesthetics, visual and multimedia communication, music perception and communication, text and inter-medial translation. I also work on communication related to generosity and end of life care. Currently, he has extended these explorations to the realm of social media as well. With students of IIT Kharagpur, he is also using technology to explore his core fields of interest. This has resulted in his taking the first steps into the area of digital humanities as well as cognitive sciences with tools such as eye-tracker, polygraph and EEG.

Somnath Roy is Associate Professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Kharagpur. His primary area of work is computational fluid dynamics (CFD). He has also been working on CFD problems involving high computational cost and has tried to propose high performance computing (HPC) methodologies to address them using multi-core clusters and GPGPU platforms. His research group works on developing immersed boundary method (IBM) based computationally efficient algorithms to solve moving boundary problems. Prof. Roy’s other area of interest is development of micro and small rural industrial clusters. He has worked as design expert with NID, Ahmadabad on the development of rice milling machineries. He is also working with the Bihar government and a DST funded organization on the development of rural industrial clusters in Bihar and West Bengal.

Sunando Dasgupta teaches at the Department of Chemical Engineering, and is the former head of the Advanced Technology Development Centre, IIT Kharagpur. He is Fellow of the National Academy of Engineering, India and Senior Associate of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Italy. His research group addresses fundamentals of the transport processes at the microscale across diverse domains such as interfacial heat and mass transfer in ultrathin films, digital microfluidics, design and development of micro-scale heat spreaders for cooling of electronic components, formation and propagation of cracks during drying of microdroplets, self-assembly of biomolecules and biological processes in small confinements, study of protein nanoparticle interaction etc. 

Amal Sarkar has been the Chief of News Bureau in Times of India group’s Bengali edition, Ei Samay, since its inception. His professional career spans almost three decades, including his stints with many important Bengali dailies, All India Radio, and his senior editorial position in the present assignment. All through, it has been an unending story of incisive reporting on contemporary issues, with a niche for news related to scientific institutions. He has taken special initiative to promote science in his entire career in order to take it to the masses and build a scientific temperament in the common man. His unique contribution in this regard has been his ability to de-compartmentalise science news into an arena of mainstream focus. He is a guest lecturer and a regular member of faculty in three premier institutions of journalism and mass communication, including the University of Calcutta.

Indrajit Kundu is the Associate Editor of India Today. He is a multimedia journalist with over 10 years’ experience in reporting across media platforms. Apart from a deep understanding of the political developments in eastern India, he has the experience of extensively covering social issues with a focus on conflict, human rights and environment. His documentary on the Indo-Bangladesh enclave dwellers was nominated for the prestigious Red Ink Award for human rights reporting in 2016. Currently based in Kolkata, Indrajit has covered some of the biggest stories from West Bengal, Odisha, Assam and the North East in the last decade. 

Amit Sengupta is the Head of Media and Communications, East and Northeast India, at the British High Commission in India. He is an international media and communications professional with an experience of more than 10 years in the development and media sector. His core area of work involves creating more digital impact of the Commission’s work, the Great Britain campaign and he works closely with political, trade and investment, prosperity experts across the High Commission’s network in India and South Asia. Sengupta has previously worked with ADRA, Oxfam, Water Aid and CLTS Foundation, Times of India and The Echo of India spanning across West Bengal, New Delhi, the Andamans (post Tsunami), and in South Africa, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Cambodia.