बुधवार, 25 जुलाई 2012

Challenges: Journalism & Mass Communication

March 30, 2010

Prof. M.R. Dua
Former Professor and Head of Journalism Department
IIMC, New Delhi 
NOT long ago, diehard breeds of journalists in India used to make condescending, if somewhat supercilious, statements that  'journalists are born, not made.' And, 'schools or colleges or universities cannot produce journalists;' they are 'heaven born.' Even if you cursorily, or curiously, glance at the scenario in India today, if nothing else, you will non-   chalantly discover for yourself that colleges and university departments of journalism and mass communication are dotting all over the country, and doing just fine. Besides, these are multiplying. Moreover, if nothing else, majority of JMC graduates passing out of these colleges have prodigiously debunked these long-held myths.
Again, if you cursorily, or curiously visit any nook and corner of the country today, you will invariably notice that all media organizations, small, medium or big; private or public-owned; semi-government or government-owned; bristle with college or university trained journalism and mass communication graduates. And, you will discern many of them occupying junior and senior positions at all levels in these establishments.
Ironically though, most senior journalism teachers now avidly recall and bemoan the days when the mass media industry-walas used to disdainfully look down upon 'our' products as 'half-baked', not even good enough 'for dotting the i's or crossing the t's.' I myself remember the occasions when any requests to consider journalism degree holders even for lowest level journalistic jobs would be like a 'dialogue of the deaf.' Even in the U.S. where journalism education was first initiated in the 1900s, JMC schools had a 'relatively low status,' according to Dr. Everette E. Dennis, a distinguished professor and director of communication center and chairman of media and entertainment industries track at the Fordham Graduate School of Business, Fordham University in Bronx, New York.
With the onset of computer and satellite age, globally speaking, mass media environment has been transformed drastically in content and contours.  Fortunately, as Dennis points out, 'celebration and success is in the air,' as for JMC teaching, training or research organizations are concerned.  A large number of factors have contributed for this total overhaul and change of attitudes, perspective and posturing towards studies, training and research in journalism and mass communication education all over the world.
The first and foremost reason for this new outlook for media studies and training in India particularly is the liberal and generous private funding, supplemented by the University Grants Commission for providing faculty, technical and professional infra-structure.  These financial grants have profusely boosted universities' and state governments' efforts for initiating new and upgrading existing teaching, training and research programmes in almost all areas of journalism and mass communication in the country today.
Another perhaps most compelling and driving reason is the consummate and ingenious revamp of the course curricula of all the JMC programmes in India.  Call it American influence or the need of the hour in media industry's demand for particularly distinctive type of educated and trained human power, universities' JMC departments have, by and large, risen to the occasion in meeting the industry's needs to a great extent. 
Moreover, the 2001-2002-UGC--prepared model JMC course curricula for graduate and post-graduate levels (of which I was personally in charge) have gone a very long way in creating salutary industry climate for the newly set up graduate and post-graduate JMC schools' products in all sorts of media positions – print, electronic, public/corporate communication, advertising, online, entertainment, call it what you will.
But wait a minute!  In the atmosphere of this unusual bonhomie, let's, university JMC faculty, sit up and frankly evaluate the pluses and minuses of even these newly-crafted curricula.  In addition, it's also the time for a down-to-earth re-assessment and reappraisal of the curricula, and introspection for the faculty and all others involved in teaching and training of the current crop of journalism and mass communication graduates in India.
On a rough estimate, at present there are some 125 old and new universities, institutes, and colleges of journalism, mass communication and allied media studies spread all over the country—from Kashmir to Kerala, from Gujarat to Arunachal Pradesh -- churning out more than 5,000 graduates annually. It'll not be incorrect to say that currently all media of mass communication in India are having a blast time.  According to a recent press report on media reach and public access, there were at least 480 television channels, up from 120 in 2003; more than 80 million homes connected with satellite and cable connections -- some 113 million people watch Hindi channels alone; in 2009 television market in its entirety, including subscriptions has been estimated at Rs. 24,000 crore, with an ad revenue totalling easily around Rs. 8,200 crore, likely to grow to Rs. 15,000 crore, with overall television market sure to exceed Rs.47,300 crore by 2013.
Besides, new and highly sophisticated television and FM radio stations are propping up at frenzied speed in every far and near nook and cranny of India. Multi-coloured daily newspapers and glossy magazines in all national languages and even rarely known dialects are being brought out commanding high circulations. These are some of the new, cardinal and emerging media trends in the country today.
Meanwhile, thanks to the World Wide Web, reaching, accessing and communicating with the global community has literally been reduced to minutes and seconds. Internet has further swelled the ranks of media related individuals, institutions and industries. Now, everybody can become a journalist and a media person. Blogging has touched raging proportions. Web and net journalism is the need of the hour. What's needed today, that Prof. Lee Becker of Georgia University's center for international mass communication training and research says, is 'certification' such as – developing specialized master's courses, like science and health journalism, environment communication, national defence and civil security journalism, and rural and development journalism. Such programmes would go a long way in creating awareness of obscure areas of communication, and at the same time exploring new vistas of studies, research and employment. Also, advertising, public relations and corporate communication, event management and celebrity media are briskly accelerating and extending horizons of print and electronic media worldwide.
Another area yet to receive adequate attention in our JMC university courses is the swarming media convergence. Intimate knowledge of pod casting and being somewhat of a techno-geek will be a prime requisite for every student. Of course, basic and required qualifications of the journalists and media persons of tomorrow will be to possess the essential and core skills of journalism, such as reporting, lead writing and online editing. 
Meanwhile, we witness daily that the ubiquitous impact of all kinds of foreign mass media are encompassing every section of our society at a breakneck speed. Also, these media are marvellously, if iniquitously, moulding and formatting and reformatting all of our own media content and audiences, most intimately and instantly.  
Obviously, therefore, in order to keep full-scale pace with the minute-by-minute transforming media output, JMC faculty, teaching and research institutions will have to be copiously mandated to rigorously update their classroom and field presentations, training equipment, research tool and techniques.  As every aspect of pedagogy, training and research is being comprehensively controlled and dictated by computers and ultra modern electronic gadgets, all JMC faculty, students and everyone involved in the process will have to compulsorily attain and command fullest sway over them. However at the same time, let's be cautious. As a distinguished American journalism professor, Dr. Jean Folkerts of North Carolina University warns: 'Journalism educators and journalism education should push the technology, not be pushed by it. We should explore new techniques, new possibilities, new structures and new methods. We should be early adopters and innovators.' So, integrate new technologies into every course slowly.
Meanwhile, let us not forget that media industries all over the world are openly and aggressively embracing digital revolution, and extensive and instant globalization in content and style, we in India cannot afford to sit back and close our eyes to these ground realities. In order to adequately withstand and competently meet this amazingly cosmopolitan challenge of innovatively and ebulliently fast-moving new social and communication environment, all of us will be 'required to teach new metrics that measure up' to the national and international standards.  Failing this will not only be disastrous for education in journalism and mass communication, its teaching faculty, and students, but also for the country, and its honour at large.   
Professor M. R. Dua
38, National Media Centre Complex
Gurgaon, Haryana- 122002

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