Dial J for Journalism

R.A.F.

Posted on : April 12, 2014 at 1:01 PM

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There was a time when a mere interest in Journalism (or just a social concern) and a little flair for writing – was enough to get into a newspaper. And the journalists in those days had only one aim – to write the truth and nothing but truth.

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I was even told that the moment somebody said that he was working as a journalist, the next question would be – “What do you do for your living?” Perhaps, this explains the pathetic condition of the scribes, just a couple of decades ago.
Not any more. Times have changed and so does Journalism.

While Journalism has been split into several factions – print media, visual (TV) media, broadcast (Radio) media, web (online) journalism and content writing; advertisement and public relations too have been brought under the purview of Journalism.

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From a reporter or correspondent, who used to get a few rupees in the 50s and 60s to the present-day reporter or correspondent who earns in lakhs (there are many reporters who still do not get a 5-digit salary), the journalism has come a long way. A degree in journalism may not get you a job in many elite publications. A Masters degree with some experience is the need of the hour.

To cater to the fast growing requirement of media-industry, the media schools (courses) too have mushroomed in a rapid way. In fact, the coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi alone have more than a dozen colleges offering media courses. Right from a Diploma in journalism to Masters degree, several colleges offer journalism courses to such an extent that the students are confused which college to select.

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But sadly, though the colleges offering journalism courses are on the rise, the quality of the courses (or rather teachers) offering the said courses, is not up to the mark.

Take for example, the Mass Communication & Journalism (MCJ) course in Mangalore University. Out of the five posts of faculty, three are lying vacant for more than 3 to 5 years. The department is managing the show with part-time faculty who have just completed the course! (with no or little practical experience of working in any publication).

The case is no different in many colleges in and around Mangalore or Udupi district, with Manipal Institute of Communication (MIC) being an exception.

Among the students too, there are a few students who take up journalism because it is one of the optional subjects. Then there are students who looking at the fame of few elite journalists, take up the course (very soon they are disappointed). The irony is that many a times a deserving student may not get a seat, while the student who gets a seat may not be interested in the subject or may not become a journalist.

Teachers without practical knowledge

A sad development in the recent years is that though the number of schools/colleges offering Journalism courses have increased considerably, the number of teachers with practical knowledge are very few.

A teacher teaching Journalism without practical experience is something like teaching swimming in a classroom! How can you teach a student the practical problems one might face in the field, if you have not faced it yourself!

Though there are few teachers with practical knowledge, they lack proficiency or hold over more than one language, which is also a must these days.

More sad part is that the students who go to internship in a publication, don’t take it seriously. Most of the students’ purpose of internship is to complete the course, as internship is mandatory. Internship period is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn the tricks of the trade.

What can you expect from a student who says that assignments are ‘boring’ soon after they join a media for internship. Not everyone can become a Arun Shourie, a Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi, Vinod Dua or Arnab Goswami. One in thousands may shine. On the other hand, nothing can stop you from becoming another P. Sainath, if you wish to. (For those who have not heard of P Sainath, he works for The Hindu. He is also the author of a book – “Everybody loves a good drought”).

Where there is a will, there is a way. If you are passionate, you will succeed.

Best Schools for Journalism Study

In recent years, several schools/colleges offering journalism diploma/degrees (bachelor/master) have mushroomed and getting a seat in some institutions is quite difficult.

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Some of the best journalism schools in India include: Indian Institute of Mass Communication (New Delhi); Jamia Millia Islamia University (Delhi); Xavier Institute of Communication (Mumbai); Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication (Pune); Asian College of Journalism (Chennai); Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (Bangalore); and Manipal Institute of Communication (Manipal) are just a few to mention.

In coastal region, both MIC and St Aloysius College have a good studio and both have been producing programmes for local communities while imparting the nuances of Journalism.
Last but not the least, one can not blame only the schools offering journalism as the responsibility lies on the student as well. Though we at times degrade ‘Government College’ in Mangalore, it is a fact that no college in the region could produce the number of eminent personalities as the Government College had produced, in any field. On the other hand, a good school would always help a student acquire more knowledge with more practical facilities.

(Originally published on June 06, 2012)