A look at what media students want in their course

Press Council of India Chairman Markandey Katju’s recent comments on the necessity for minimum qualifications to be a journalist drew flak from many. He said in a press note, “Very often, persons with little or inadequate training in journalism enter the profession, and this often leads to negative effects, because such untrained persons often do not maintain high standards of journalism.” He has now set up a committee to determine the minimum qualifications for a journalist.

According to him, given the scenario of journalism in India, it is time that some qualification is prescribed by the law. Some eminent journalists shot back saying that mastering journalism can happen only on the field. A small fraction does feel that a classroom approach with the right curriculum and pedagogy can make all the difference.

Here is what journalism students say they want from their classroom course.

Nishant Bharadwaj, M.A., St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore

My experience as an intern threw me at the deep end of covering press meets on issues ranging from cloud computing to real estate. But with the help of the right mentor, it gave me the real-world, hands-on experience. While the basics may be gleaned in class, the finer nuances are learned on the job. I believe that theory can take you only as far as your first job; what you put into value addition is what is important. It is not the theory that matters, it depends on how well you apply the theory that you have learnt. I think the best way to improve a journalism course is through practical teaching only.

Priyanka M.B., B.A. Journalism, Jain College, Bangalore

I think it is important to provide awareness to people on what exactly is journalism and the opportunities in the field. There is a wrong notion that journalism is a dangerous job. Colleges must make it a point to stress on the need for practical knowledge more than theory. The whole theoretical system should focus on developing news and events around the world. What is the whole point of studying about Gutenberg and his printing machine when it is time to focus on new media? I think media law and ethics should be a part of the syllabus in a very serious manner. I think if budding journalists are aware of these ethics, then news value would not be sidelined. I believe that a course like journalism cannot be taught inside a classroom alone. If colleges can devote half-a-semester for practical learning, the quality of education can be improved.

Sarah Fazal, final year BA, Mount College, Bangalore

I don’t want to study the theories of journalism or theories relating to how to write a good report or how to write a good feature. I think each student must have a good knowledge about the practical side of journalism rather than its theories. If I have to apply for a job, no one is going to ask me to list the main points that are to be considered while writing a feature. They will ask me to write the feature, so I think journalism must never concentrate on theories alone. I also feel that media colleges must conduct a media fest so that even non-journalism students can get to know how interesting the course is.

Suzania Sharma, MS Mass Communication, St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore

Even though we have practical classes in each semester, I don’t think that is enough. In the first year we had to write articles for our monthly newsletters and in the second semester we were taught the practical side of broadcast media. But I feel that these practical classes must be held for a specific time period. Journalism cannot be restricted to writing articles alone and it is important to go out on to the field and report incidents as a part of the curriculum. As a part of external assessments, practical work of this kind must be practised. I also feel that professors teaching journalism must have practical experience. For me what you learn in class is not the reality. So, for academic purpose, theory is important but when practical work is included, the course becomes interesting and wholesome.

Sanjana Raju, BA, Christ College, Bangalore

I feel it is important to focus more on theory as it gives detailed description of the subject. Practical aspect is also necessary but it can be balanced along with theory. Every college gives an opportunity for its students to have practical knowledge through internship, so theory must be learned well. But I feel that more workshops and industrial visits must be provided by the college so that students get to understand more about the work atmosphere.