A Modern Version of the Fourth Estate
COM student plans to make media that cure social ills| From Commonwealth | By Amy Laskowski
Jay Roewe (COM’79) (left), HBO Films senior vice president of production, is advising Sid Selvaraj (COM’10) on how to start a media company in India. Photo by Dominick Reuter
More than thirty million people in India can afford only one meal a day, and millions more lack access to health care and education. Sid Selvaraj, a graduate student in the College of Communication, wants to change that — and he wants to harness the power of India’s growing middle class to do it.
Selvaraj (COM’10) is one of three cofounders of the Fourth Estate, a nonprofit media organization designed to educate and inspire people to find solutions to India’s greatest problems. “We were interested in the way media can influence public opinion and convert opinion into action,” he says. “With the Fourth Estate, we want to help bring exposure to challenging issues and create debate in our society.”
The group recently won the College of Communication’s Harold G. Buchbinder Entrepreneurial Media Studies Competition, which comes with a $10,000 prize. The award also pairs Selvaraj with Jay Roewe (COM’79), senior vice president of production for HBO Films and a member of the BU Board of Overseers, who is advising the Fourth Estate’s founders on how to launch their venture.
The Fourth Estate’s media packages will be designed for seven forms of distribution — film and television, radio, theater, publishing, advertising, public relations, and animation. For the organization’s first venture, the “AIDS Sutra” campaign, that could mean a documentary about someone with HIV/AIDS, a series of podcasts to discuss solutions to the AIDS epidemic, and a short animated piece about an HIV-positive ten-year-old girl.
The point, says Selvaraj, is to reach people in rural India, who do not have enough information about AIDS. “We have lived in this environment, and the Fourth Estate aims to address these issues,” he says. “Whether the issues are human ignorance or the lack of information, we want to convert understanding into action. If all goes well, we hope to repeat the structure in developing countries around the world.”