Reform Journalism Education in India: Experts

New Delhi, 11 December 2016

Media professionals, academics and communication specialists expressed serious concern over the current state of journalism education in India and called for drastic steps to reform it. The study of liberal arts, inter disciplinarity, were among many steps that were suggested to remedy the situation.These views were expressed at a Seminar on “Media, Governance and Democracy: Challenges, Opportunities and Implications for Journalism Education in India” that was organized by the O. P. Jindal Global University in New Delhi.There was a broad consensus amongst the experts that content is king and that the platform is immaterial. All media platforms in practice co-exist leading to a convergent media eco-system. The experts also highlighted that the Indian media landscape is unique and its Journalism schools must evolve their own text books and case studies for use in classrooms.Speaking on the occasion, Professor (Dr) C Raj Kumar, Vice Chancellor, JGU lamented the absence of journalism school rooted in strong academic traditions which he termed as an “important gap”. He emphasised the need for a strong pedagogy rooted in interdisciplinary liberal arts and social sciences education.Ms. Sagarika Ghose spoke of four crucial foundational elements for a quality, world-class journalism school in India. She said, “Journalism education needs to be rooted in the liberal arts; focus on multi-media; possess an ethos of moral purpose and citizenship and finally look outward through linkages with journalism practices and academic institutions worldwide.Ms. Ghose highlighted the crisis being experienced by the media profession currently and said, “There is a crisis of content and a crisis of credibility in the media at large. Journalism schools today will have to instill credibility as an important value in students from the very beginning.” She emphasised that the need of the hour for new journalism institutions is “to train young minds on developing professional integrity and fostering a community of value-based, ethical journalists”.Speaking on the increasingly ratings-driven news business, Mr. N Bhaskara Rao, Founder-Chairman, Centre for Media Studies said, “We live in times where seeing is also not believing” and stressed the need to overhaul journalism education in India.The challenges posed to the media environment by new media technologies were debated and discussed in different panels and the panelists agreed on the necessity of making students aware of the drastic changes in news and newsrooms. Mr. Subhomoy Bhattacharjee observed that social media has created opportunities of two-way communication that is also personalised in nature and, therefore, is making the traditional media almost redundant. Students need to be exposed to the “total package” of new media in classrooms, integrating new media into the eco-system of journalism education, Bhattacharjee added.Mr. Vibodh Parthasarathi, Associate Professor, Centre for Culture, Media & Governance, Jamia Milia Islamia stressed that while we have “multiplicity in channels and outlets,” but lack “diversity of content”. He argued that for a healthier journalistic medium, we ought to strive for diversity not just of content and programming, but also in personnel. Furthermore, he highlighted the need for “‎a blend of hard and soft skills, both in theory and in practice”.Amith Prabhu, Co-creator PRAXIS and Dean SCoRE spoke about how journalism should not only be “fun and interesting” but at the same time “also rigorous”.Experts discussed contemporary issues of journalistic ethos, trends and future of structured learning.  Other eminent participants in the Seminar included Maya Mirchandani, Editor, Foreign Affairs, NDTV; Fatima Karan, Consulting Editor of Bloomberg TV; Professor Ujjwal Kumar Chowdhury, Head Education Divison, Ramoji Film City; Independent media researcher, Mr. Sandeep Bhushan; Ravinder Bawa, Former journalist BBC and TV Today Group and P.N. Vasanti, Director Centre for Media Studies.

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