Banaras Hindu University is one of the oldest institutes and its department of journalism and mass communication was set up in 1973 in the faculty of arts. With the passage of time, the two programmes namely MA (Mass Communication) and MA (Corporate Communication) have gained popularity and have become sought after courses. In addition, BHU also offers other post graduate courses in various specializations. Admissions to these programmes are through the university held entrance exam. Careers360 spoke to Prof Sisir Basu, Department of Mass Communication regarding the programmes, admission process, challenges faced by mass communication aspirants, new innovations seen in the field and more. A Fullbright Fellow, Prof Sisir Basu also holds an M.A & Ph.D in Mass Communication from University of Phillippines. He is of the opinion that multitasking is the need of the hour especially for mass communication aspirants. Read the complete interview.
Careers360: Please elaborate on some of the achievements of your department in the academic year 2017-18?
Prof Sisir Basu: Department of Journalism and Mass Communication of Banaras Hindu University organized three seminars/workshops at the national level for the students of our university and other universities in the country. Our students participated in film competition on Yoga and won a prize. The senior students have been placed in respectable jobs.
Careers360: What are the changes that you plan to bring in to your curriculum/system in the next two years?
Prof Sisir Basu:Though ourcurriculum is regularly updated, it still is driven by technology. So it is imperative that students not just study but have the requisite skill sets. So our future focus may be more on developing those skills to ensure that our students are at par with the industry standards.
Careers360: How has the training, media programmes evolved over last 8-10 years? Kindly throw some light on this.
Prof Sisir Basu: The media training and educational institutions in the country are on their toes keeping abreast with the latest developments in the technology and industry. The teachers in educational programmes in journalism and mass communication need to sharpen their expertise in all the three areas of the discipline namely: skill, art, and science.
Careers360: What are the emerging opportunities/new work areas for freshers in the field of Media and communication?
Prof Sisir Basu:The digital platform opened multiple opportunities. They should possess good writing skills and should be able to use applications of technologies so that they can produce communication materials.
Careers360: How are the candidates shortlisted? What are the factors that you take into account at the time of interview while selecting the candidate?
Prof Sisir Basu:There are two levels to cross before selection. First the candidates appear in BHU mass communication entrance exam which focuses on competence on language, computation, analytical abilities, and general knowledge. Then the students who qualify in the test are shortlisted via a merit list and participate in Group discussions and personal interview. The final merit list and selection is after this.
Careers360: In terms of curriculum and pedagogy, how do you plan to enrich the same in the coming years?
Prof Sisir Basu:Currently,students are given assignments which require independent efforts in terms of writing, analysing, and presenting the same. Many assignments are also done in groups making the students learn group dynamics. We would like to do more and strengthen the same. The students are to do internships for 8-10 weeks. This gives them exposure to the world of media and also organizations working with and in communication.
Careers360: What are the recent trends, in terms of practical exposure, new fields etc in media and journalism education, you have observed in the past few years and how you plan to integrate such evolving trends into your curriculum and pedagogy?
Prof Sisir Basu:It is multitasking. The field needs multi-taskers. We must help our students to acquire skills and art to perform with ease different type of work such as writing, speaking, performing, and making audio visuals materials.
Careers360: New fields like digital writing, documentary studies, new media culture studies, have been increasingly gaining grounds. Have you introduced or planning to introduce special courses related to these fields? Please also name some of the other new that have been introduced in the past few years.
Prof Sisir Basu:We have introduced courses in writing for online portals, technical writing, film making, still photography, short film making, and health communication.
The department has a computer laboratory with 40 systems with internet connectivity and various required software. Right now we are in the process of upgrading it. The department has equipment to produce audio video programmes/ films with FCP software.
Careers360: What is your take on the status of research in media and journalism? How research work on media and mass communication must be promoted?
Prof Sisir Basu:We have two full courses in Research Methodology and Media Research offered in the second and third semesters respectively. In addition, the students are to conduct a research study to write a dissertation.
Careers360: Some of the specialisations that are offered at BHU include (I) corporate communication management (ii) post graduate diploma in health communication. Tell us briefly about it. What kind of students should opt for these courses and what is the career trajectory for them if they pursue these courses.
Prof Sisir Basu:The Masters in Corporate Communication Management comprise two groups of courses: i) Fifty percent courses are on Communication; and ii) other 50% are on Management. The students undergoing this programme are supposed to work for the corporate sector at the top level helping the companies understand the importance and magic of Communication.
The course on Health Communication was part of an Innovative programme offered by the University Grants Commission to me. The purpose of the project was to train the students in Communication to work in the area of health. The health sector in the country is in a dismal condition. Communication can contribute in bringing about a positive change by reducing ignorance and educating the general public about the causes and remedies of various health problems and diseases.
Careers360: On the website there is information that the specialisation courses will be offered only if there is availability of faculty members and experts. If there is no surety of having a regular faculty, then why will the students opt for such specialisation courses?
Prof Sisir Basu:This clause was put as there was a shortage of faculty members in the specialized area. However, it is not the case anymore.
Careers360: How do you prepare your students for the placement process? What are the key areas where you guide students for placement interviews? Do you have any capsule/crash course for this before placement takes off at your campus?
Prof Sisir Basu:These are inbuilt in the courses themselves such as course on communication skills, reporting, writing, and editing, screenplay writing, and evaluation of projects.
Careers360: How important internships are for media graduates? How do you support students to get internship offers?
Prof Sisir Basu: It is important for practical exposure in working of media organizations. It works both ways: students may arrange for the internship with the consent of the department, or the department arranges through the help of the alumni spread in various media organizations in the country.
Careers360: Do you also facilitate alumni interaction with students of the current batch? How do they contribute in terms of placement or curriculum update?
Prof Sisir Basu: Our alumni do that. The current students are in constant touch with the alumni through the social media. We have had some alumni meet in the past.
Careers360: What are the key challenges that media education face today?
PProf Sisir Basu: To constantly update knowledge, skills and enhance creativity. At the same time upgrade the technical facilities to keep abreast of the latest technology.
Careers360: Could you tell us something about the Publications that are taken out such as (i) BHU Journal of Communication Studies (ii) Parisar (Student’s bilingual news magazine) (iii) Gram Varta (Newspaper for and by the villagers)? What role is being played by mass communication department in taking out such publications? If Gram Varta is taken out by the villagers, how is it benefiting the students as well as the villagers?
Prof Sisir Basu:The BHU Journal of Communication Studies is a peer reviewed research journal published by the Department. Parisar is a bilingual lab journal --- a by-product of the courses conducted on reporting, writing and editing
Gram Varta: It is a by-product of the extension programme that the students undertook in some near-by villages. The villagers are able to express themselves and see their own writing in print form; the students learn how to collect pieces, edit, publish, and distribute the same. It is a good training venture for the students.
Careers360:Tell us something about the film library, PTI news services, how the candidates use digital video cameras, non-linear, digital production equipment and editing suit with final cut pro (FCP)?
Prof Sisir Basu: We have a film appreciation course. The film library is to enrich that course. The subscription to PTI news is to help the students to learn from the PTI dispatches on how to translate and summarise. I have already explained earlier the other things about the equipment for film production.