The Journalism Dept. of KSWU, Bijapur, is training girls from the backward North Karnataka region and helping them land jobs in top media houses

The media has become extremely popular but to get a foothold in it is still considered a difficult task, especially for those who are not from big cities. Studying a media course is an expensive option and still not an easy one for many.

The Karnataka State Women’s University at Bijapur has taken a step towards facilitating girls from economically weaker sections, mainly of the backward North Karnataka region, realise a dream they never thought was possible — of joining the media.

The Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, started in 2006-07 in the university, is striving hard to dispel the notion that the media is a man’s forte, and to a large extent it has been successful, said Omkar Kakade, Head, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC).

“The media (both electronic and print) is still largely considered as a field ‘not meant for girls’. A large chunk of society believes that journalism demands strong conviction and psychological strength, which they think is present only in the male fraternity,” he said.

Better opportunities

Mr. Kakade says the primary objective of starting the JMC in the University is not only to make the girls of poor and orthodox families get convinced that the media is open for them too, but also to provide better opportunities for girls who are willing to join journalism.

“Courses in journalism are being offered by several colleges and universities of the State. Yet, many families do not send their daughters to other districts, mainly because the colleges have a co-education system. The Women’s University here solved this problem as it is meant for girls only. So, parents do not hesitate to send their daughters to Bijapur. This is one of the main reasons for North Karnataka girls showing interest in journalism,” he added.

The success of the university in attracting girls of economically backward sections could be judged by the fact that over 95 per cent of the girls who have opted for journalism are from rural areas. Their parents are either in agriculture or are lower-level government employees.

Mr. Kakade said that ever since its inception, nearly 20 girls of the JMC department have got jobs in reputed media organisations such as NDTV, Zee TV, Samaya TV, Samyukta Karnataka and Kannada Prabha.

“Another matter of pride is that our girls bagged the overall award in the national-level media fest held in Bangalore in 2009-10. The girls added one more jewel in our crown by emerging as runners-up in the State-level media fest held in Dharwad in 2010-11,” he said.

Crucial aspects

Mr. Kakade listed four critical aspects that he believes have played a key role in facilitating these girls finding placement in reputed media organisations in the country and the State.

The first one, he says, is that his department has a state-of-the-art television studio which is on a par with any popular news channel of the country. “It is important to have a sophisticated studio to make sure that the best training in electronic media is given to the students so that when they get jobs, they instantly get adjusted to the new atmosphere,” he said.

In the studio, the students are made to participate in mock-interviews, conduct discussions with panel experts and read bulletins.

The second aspect is that the students are given extensive training in translation from Kannada to English and vice versa to make them gain a command over the language.

“Media is all about language, and if one does not have command over the language, then he/she will fail to qualify at the elementary level itself. Thus, we are focusing greatly on improving their language and communication skills,” he said.

The third aspect is the creation of a curriculum that suits the need of media houses. The curriculum has been prepared with the help of eminent people from the field to help give the best knowledge to the students.

The fourth point, which Mr. Kakade feels has the most importance, is the introduction of practical aspects. “In the media, what gives students an edge is the practical knowledge of the subject; unless students are made to work in the field by giving them individual responsibilities, they will not become good reporters or some may never find jobs in the field of journalism,” he said.

In the fourth semester, the students must prepare a 15-minute documentary on a subject of their interest. They have to work on their own to produce the documentary that carries 100 marks.

Similar work is given to print media students where they are supposed to come out with their own magazine by selecting a subject of their choice which may range from women’s issues to sports, entertainment and general news.

In-house magazine

“Apart from these, the Department has its own in-house fortnightly magazine ‘Mahila Dhwani (Voice of Women)’ published with contributions from students themselves. The magazine essentially helps the students learn various aspects of print journalism,” Mr. Kakade said.

Zainab Donur, a third semester student of the journalism department of the university, said the course has given tremendous confidence to the girls of backward regions. She said if girls join the media, they can highlight women-related issues in a better way. Coming from a family of agriculturists, she hopes to become a radio presenter in the future.

For a Ph.D.

The story of Pallavi Vaijanath of Gulbarga is equally encouraging. She not only completed her journalism here and worked in various media organisations, but has now joined the same university for doing her Ph.D. in “The role of radio in the development of women — a case study of Gulbarga radio station.”

She said that she is the only person in her family who has reached the higher education level as all the other family members, including boys, did not study beyond PUC.

A pact with Tubingen

Expanding its reach, the Karnataka State Women’s University at Bijapur has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Tubingen University of Germany for joint research programmes for students and faculty.

Elaborating on the agreement, Omkar Kakade, Head, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC), said that a few fourth semester students of the University would be sent to Germany for higher studies and research. “We are hoping to send the first batch of at least three students in 2014,” he added.