“No nation could exist without news. The nation as a community came about because the stories of those we thought our own stoked our imagination,” said NDTV Managing Editor and journalist Ravish Kumar in a riveting Ramon Magsaysay Award acceptance speech. He received the prestigious award in September, 2019 for “harnessing journalism to give voice to the voiceless”. His earnest, moving words on the state of mainstream media in India was just the fire needed to ignite the imagination of young people—a call to evolve the future of ethical and free journalism in the country and across the world. The B.A. (Hons.) in Journalism & Media Studies programme at Jindal School of Journalism & Communication (JSJC) is an endeavour to do just that.
“Journalism is the protection between people and any sort of totalitarian rule. That’s why my hero, admittedly a flawed one, is a journalist,” wrote the popular American author, Andrew Vachss. With his tireless fight for the values of righteous journalism and the people of his nation, Ravish Kumar has become a hero to many. His voice stands out more when India slips down the World Press Freedom Index to 142 among 180 countries, according to a survey by the international non-profit and non-governmental organisation Reporters Without Borders.
It’s interesting to note that our neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka rank higher on this list. There certainly is work to be done. In the same speech, Kumar said that the “democratic atma is under relentless attack every day”, referring to the “spirit, soul, or essence” of democracy. That’s why now, more than ever, we need to harness the power of journalism. But if there is one thing that journalism offers for the future, it is hope. After all, the fourth estate is and must always remain an indispensable pillar of democracy.
These are challenging times for journalism, when there is an onslaught of fake news and propaganda. At the same time social media and digital content has changed the game, empowering journalism and creating new opportunities, when done right. The future is expected to evolve at a faster pace with more dynamic turns, and it needs courageous journalists to uphold the values of democracy. O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU), one of the top universities in India, is leading the way to nurture an educated, well-trained and ethical breed of future journalists the country sorely needs.
The B.A. (Hons.) in Journalism & Media Studies programme at JSJC has been designed to encourage students to challenge the status quo in today’s digital, interdisciplinary, and global environment. “Students will be taught that they must not be afraid to question authority. They should take nothing for granted,” says Professor Tom Goldstein, Dean, JSJC. We take a look at some of the salient features of the programme.
- Contemporary programme with an eye on the future
Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks starrer, Oscar-nominated The Post is one recent movie that powerfully extols the virtues of courageous journalism against state pressure—a very real and urgent phenomena in today’s world. Philip L. Graham, the husband of the character played by Streep and the co-owner of The Washington Post, once said, “Journalism is the first rough draft of history.”
Rapid socio-political changes around the world have made it imperative for all aspiring journalists to have insights into current affairs, political discourses, and social diversity. From reporting on gender and sexuality, global business, and media politics to what is happening across borders, the curriculum of the B.A. (Hons.) in Journalism & Media Studies programme covers a wide range of topics that help in understanding the contemporary world. “Information helps build nations. Fake news, propaganda, and false history on the other hand help create mobs,” says Ravish Kumar. Need we say more?
- Hands-on experience with the latest tools and technologies
From scribbled notes in a diary to Dictaphones and voice recorders and speech-to-text and live transcribe applications; from cut-and-paste printing to podcasts and live news on the web–new technologies have constantly shaped the world of journalism. Today’s newsrooms are high-tech studios that boast of state-of-the-art, versatile equipment. At JSJC, students can gain hands-on experience with cutting-edge media tools to get ready for the real world.
For starters, JSJC offers different concentrations in radio, television and visual imagination, multimedia storytelling, and more. Students can focus on areas they are interested in and get exposure to modern technologies they will encounter in the workplace. They can work with digital audio workstations, software-based editing tools, professional high-end cameras and video editing systems, green screen, and so on.
- Learning from experienced scholars, journalists and media professionals
Renowned CNN journalist Anderson Cooper and NDTV’s Prannoy Roy are known for their contribution to journalism and for being inspiring mentors to a generation of younger professionals in the field. At JSJC, students are mentored by the likes of Prof. Goldstein, who received the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award, and The Nine Dots Prize winner, Annie Zaidi. Prof. Goldstein served as dean of the world-renowned journalism schools at Columbia and Berkeley before taking on the post at JSJC to build up the school to the same world-class standards.
With adjunct faculty including Caravan’s Political Editor Hartosh Singh Bal and NDTV’s Consulting Editor Radhika Bordia, and leading practitioners visiting the campus as guest speakers, students get the opportunity to learn from the best in the business. Internships with BBC, NDTV, Hindustan Times, and other top media houses help students gain practical insights and on-field experience.
It is the young institution’s constant efforts in pooling together global faculty, global curriculum development and more that have earned O.P. Jindal Global University the title of the number one university in India as per the recent QS World University Rankings 2021. Adding yet another feather to the cap, JGU has also secured a spot among the top 150 global institutions below 50 years of age in the QS Young University Rankings 2021.
- Diverse learning opportunities to enhance career prospects
The programme offers training in different media platforms including print, radio, and television. Students build a strong foundation by writing to deadlines and simulations that expose them to the actual work on the ground. By pursuing courses on environment and climate change, economics for journalists, and so on they can identify preferred niches.
Interdisciplinary studies through cross-listed electives at different schools of JGU further enrich the learning experience. By choosing domain-specific courses like Reporting the Border, Reporting Conflict and Crisis, and Regional Media in India, students will gain insights into the most contemporary issues in journalism and media. This expansive curriculum helps explore career prospects in TV, print, digital media, radio, and corporate communication.
- A step closer to the global media platform
Students can boost their language skills by learning French, German, Mandarin, Arabic, or Spanish. It’s one among many opportunities at JGU of enhancing credentials for a global career. Through international collaborations with top universities and institutions, JSJC provides the chance to learn how journalism and media function in different contexts, through diverse perspectives.
JSJC’s close association with faculty from the Graduate School of Journalism at University of California, Berkeley has resulted in a two-and-a-half week long summer school for Global Media and International Journalism. The summer school enables participants to learn about best global practices by visiting places like the Twitter office. JSJC also offers semester exchange programmes in Turkey, Israel, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
For those committed to tell stories that really matter, the B.A. (Hons.) in Journalism & Media Studies programme at JSJC can be the ideal launching pad.