If you want to make a career in a field where you are always learning, get paid to meet celebrities, read a lot, travel all over the world, enjoy a celebrity status and feel like doing exciting and new things every day, then ‘journalism’ is the field for you. Maybe it’s the only field where ‘stress’ is referred to as ‘excitement’. Do you have it in you to make a mark in journalism?
“A nose for news and an eye for facts are important for every budding journalist. You need to develop news gathering skills and the ability to write precisely and succinctly. A broad interest in political, economic and social aspects of everyday life is crucial. Exposure to any media platform to understand the rigours and processes of the industry are a must,” advises Dr. Tarjeet Sabharwal, Head, Department of Journalism at Delhi College of Arts and Commerce, University of Delhi.
What is Journalism?
When you break it down to its basics, the field of journalism involves gathering, interpretation, and presentation of news and other information of current interest. The information gathered is disseminated through various arms of media like print, broadcast, and web.
Print media presents information or news through newspapers, magazines, and journals. Job roles include interviewing, sourcing of news, reporting, sub-editing, feature writing and editing, reviewing and designing pages. Arvind Kumar, Special Correspondent, UNI says, “Print media focuses on serious issues but the definition, language and even captions of news have changed. Every student of journalism should acquire new skills. He should be pro-active, friendly and should have good news sense and writing skills besides primary knowledge of every issue with a strong academic foundation.”
Some of the profiles of professionals of this stream are trainee reporter, staff correspondents, special correspondents, news editors, chief-editors, feature writers, political commentators, cartoonists, columnists, content writers, sub-editors, etc.
In this domain, journalists produce radio and television news. Broadcast journalism programmes in various journalism schools prepare and train students for reporting and editing tasks of the electronic media, relating to all aspects and stages of news production.
Some of the popular profiles in this field are an editor, reporter, presenter/news anchor, producer, correspondent, etc.
The skill-sets needed to get into this field are excellence in written and oral communication, confidence in front of a camera and an ‘on air’ presence; nose for news and keen interest in people, news, current affairs and the ability to work under pressure.
The new media or web journalism has redefined journalism all over the world. Now people have access to information in any part of the world at any point by accessing Internet. New media is all about instant reporting, offering multimedia content which is extremely customized. “I am planning to work for web because online market is the next big thing. The instant feedback and different multimedia combination of text, audio and video, which lacks in print, makes it an interactive platform altogether. Also, the recent developments on digital journalism like Pod casting, vodcasting and RSS (Rich site summary) feeds keep us updated regarding any information, blog entries and news headlines,” says Smita Ghosh, final-year student of English Journalism at Kalindi College, Delhi.
Colleges across the country are changing their curriculum to suit the changing demands of web journalism. “Though digital journalism needs a strict structure and a bunch of rules which is lacking at the contemporary period but the picture is changing really fast,” Ghosh added. The emergence of new media or web journalism has thrown open jobs integrating new media, social media, and content creation for a variety of digital formats and audiences.
Journalism as a career
It is not mandatory to have an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in journalism or masscom to enter the profession. However, for professional growth, it is advisable for candidates to acquire a degree to hone their knowledge base and gain practical skills. Prof. B. K. Kuthiala, Vice Chancellor, Makhanlal Chaturvedi University of Journalism and Communication (MCNUJC) Bhopal said, “Today, it is not journalism but communication. Major job opportunities are in the area of content production, both text and visual. Multiplatform content production can open areas of working for more than one employer simultaneously. Marketing of content, space and time are other very promising areas where take-home package can be unbelievably huge. Like any other corporate system, a media organization needs to be professionally managed.”
Demand for journalists
As per the industry trend, if you are exposed to both media and management, you will be in great demand in near future as the traditional fields of advertising and public relations are also expanding and will need a lot of skilled and trained human resource. Animation and multimedia industry is also expanding exponentially, with tremendous demand for talent. “The curriculum must focus on contemporary issues and conduct debates and seminars on a consistent basis for students to develop a perspective on them,” Dr. Sabharwal added.
JOB ROLES IN VARIOUS MEDIA
Colleges and universities across the country offer journalism programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate level and the popular ones are English Journalism, Hindi Journalism and Mass Communication. Many institutions, both government-run and industry-driven offer one-year Post Graduate Diploma courses in various streams of journalism.
A journalism degree course is usually built on basic and advanced composition skills and focuses on the fundamentals of journalism, including good writing skills, critical thinking, proper language and grammar and excellent interviewing skills. Students learn to write, publish, and edit for the web, which is different from how you write for print. Schools also focus on knowledge of content management system and online formats.
Change is a constant
Though web has made its mark and subsequently affected the way news is presented, the basics of journalism will never change, be it the way news is reported or presented in an unbiased manner. Some of the important skills like a nose for news, ethical journalism, good writing, judgment, investigation and verification will always be there. And remember, whatever be the medium you opt for, make sure you have the uncanny ability to be at the right place at the right time. These fundamental skills, applicable to all domains of journalism, will have greater significance as download speeds get faster by the day and the audience search for more credible information in almost real time.
PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISM DEMANDS DOUBLE THE LIFE SPAN
Prof. Iftekhar Ahmed,
Career360: How has the advent of Internet impacted teaching of journalism?
Prof. Ahmed: Teaching of journalism has always been an art as well as a craft. Teachers are required to have effective professional skills, that is, the art of story-telling with creativity, through the available technology. Online journalism is the latest way of story-telling where audio, video, pictures, graphics, et al are the main components. Students are given exclusive hands-on training in this area. Teachers are also required to understand and monitor students and groom their personality. Hence, there is a need to keep pace with the changing practices and technology to be able to teach and guide the students. It is like riding a wild horse and at the same time keeping it under control.
Career360: What about the impact of Internet on the learning process in journalism?
Prof. Ahmed: Today, learning journalism is very demanding. My favorite quote at the beginning of academic sessions, both at FTII, Pune and AJKMCRC, JMI, Delhi, is that media students need to have a double life span to have command over professional journalism. This is because of the accumulation of vast human knowledge, media skills, art forms and advance technology required for print, broadcast and online journalism. Learning process needs discipline in life to cope up with the process of learning. Otherwise it may affect their psyche.
Career360: What are the skills that one needs to make a career in broadcast journalism?
Prof. Ahmed: For broadcast journalism, students must understand audio-visual communication and its components as the story is told through sound and picture with minimum use of voice-over. For this the students should learn the art and craft, writing for the medium, software used for radio and TV (eg. video editing, sound, graphics, pictures etc.), tools of the medium namely camera, microphone etc. Performance as reporter/interviewer in front of camera is another skill to be learnt. Here all the technical skills are hands-on.
Career360: What are the challenges of working in different areas of journalism?
Prof. Ahmed: Opportunities are enormous in all the media sectors but only for those who have required skill, updated knowledge, efficient, disciplined, diligent and have good command over language (oral and written) with mature views on issues. They must look for acquisition of these qualities to avail the opportunities. Indian media has very good opportunities for talented people.
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