Mass media to personal e-newspaper, where news matters
indian institute of Mass Communication students learning video shoot
“More and more people are reading and watching news- differently from the way their parents didâbut they are interested in what is happening in the world,” sums up Kanchan Kaur, Vice Dean, Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, commenting on what and what not is changing in the media domain. Irrespective of whether you get your daily news fix from the newspaper on the porch or the iPad in your bag, news remains a constant presence in our life. News media includes print journalism, TV journalism, web journalism, and radio. Talking of facts, India has more than 70,000 newspapers in different languages and over 80 news channel. Selling over 100 million copies a day, India is the biggest newspaper market in the world.
Who is fit to be a media professional?
“A passion to report, a passion to dig out stories, a passion to write, a passion to question the system is a must for a journalist,” says Anil Kumar Thakur, Assistant professor at Maharaja Agrasen College, University of Delhi
And the opportunities are not just limited. A person with good oratory skills can choose television field and work in front of the camera, somebody who is good at writing or has strong command over language can work on a newspaper desk to edit and write, a person with good communication skills can become a reporter or venture into public relations, and a creative mind can join an advertising company. “Basically, I would like to look at a person’s writing skills, because writing is very important,” says Ashok Dixit, editor at Asian News International, a news agency based out of Delhi. Nevertheless, a journalist should have the ability to judge newsworthy stories, be alert and adaptable to changing and difficult situations, and due to the fast-paced nature of the job, be prepared to work hard, handle pressure and meet deadlines.
Bachelor’s or Master’s?
Most of the best media schools in India either provide an undergraduate degree or a postgraduate degree or diploma. So it becomes quite difficult to ascertain whether to join mass communication directly after school or to finish graduation in another subject first and then move into journalism. Rahul Puri, Head-Academics, Whistling Woods International, advises students to either pursue graduation in media with postgraduation in a specialization like Social Sciences, International Relations, English, etc. or pursue a graduation in any other course with a postgraduation in media and communication. “If you graduate in mass communication then your post graduation should be far more specialized. Focus on where you believe the opportunity is,” he adds.
“If you want to practice journalism or go into Ad & PR, mostly there are no laid down specific qualifications in media houses,” says Sunit Tandon, Director General at Indian Institute of Mass Communication, adding, however, that if one wishes to go into academics or in teaching line, one must have a masters’ degree in journalism in order to pursue a doctoral degree.
Selection criteria and how to prepare for entrance exams?
Basic general knowledge and writing skills are what most colleges look for in aspiring students. A 10+2 from any board and any stream can apply for journalism course at the undergraduate level. Many universities conduct a test followed by an interview and/or group discussion. Most postgraduate colleges have the same criteria for selection. Students applying to postgraduate colleges should have a graduate degree in any stream. Mostly, postgraduate colleges do not require any minimum percentage to be eligible for admission. The fees of different colleges can be anywhere between Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 3,50,000 depending on whether they are government-run or private.
To prepare for the test:
Read general awareness and general knowledge books
Read newspapers, watch news channels for current affairs
Practise basic grammar
Practise writing as many articles and also news stories
What do mass communication colleges teach?
Good media colleges in India are trying to adopt a holistic approach towards their courses by teaching students all the aspects of media including print, broadcast, communications, filmmaking, camera handling, editing, etc. Sunit Tandon says, “At the moment multi-tasking is very important and that is what we are trying to develop in our courses. For example, in our print media courses, there is a component of audio visual along with new media and similarly in our broadcast course we definitely do not leave out print.”
Colleges take students on trips to remote areas to cover issues and problems. Asian College of Journalism, Chennai takes students on a week-long deprivation trip to poorest areas of India to report, write, and produce documentaries. The college also has a BBC module, where employs and former employs of BBC visit the college to teach students.
Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA), uniquely merges management and communication to offer courses in management (communications) and also in advertising and public relations.
Opportunities in media
“I chose journalism mainly because it lets you experiment with your creativity. ‘Thinking out of the box’ actually means something here. For me, being a journalist is as adventurous as it can get,” says Purnank Kaul, a mass communication student at Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University. Reporting is just a part of journalism. There is an entire team of people who work together to bring out a daily newspaper, a monthly magazine, or an hourly news show. Students can become reporters, editors, writers, news readers, anchors, producers, event managers, public relations executives, directors, etc. The salaries for each of these positions and for each domain vary to some extent, but largely remain similar at the beginning i.e. between Rs. 18,000-35,000.
Big players vs. small players
In a smaller company or start-up, fresher’s get to take on more responsibilities and can become anchors, reporters, producers early, which helps to add a lot of weightage to one’s rÃ©sumÃ©. However, smaller channels offer lesser exposure. Big companies, on the other hand, can assure a stable job and better salaries. However, working on a defined role, one loses out on the opportunity to learn and be skilled in different tasks. Ultimately, it all trickles down to personal growth. How does one choose what is the best for her/him? There are advantages as well as disadvantages of working with both bigger channels and smaller ones.