Media has emerged as a very powerful instrument of social, economic and political change throughout the world. There is hardly any field which is not touched or covered by the media. It has its presence and impact in every sphere. It is rightly called the Fourth Estate.
In our country, media scene has totally changed particularly in the past two decades following the new policy of globalization. As of now, there are nearly 80000 newspapers and periodicals, nearly 250 radio stations, 400 transmitters, about 500 TV channels, and about 300 private FM radio channels. These cover almost the whole country in terms of readership, viewer ship and ‘reach’. This journey of all-round growth of media is going — from strength to strength.
The entire humanity is today in the ‘communication’ mode. New systems of communication are easy to operate. They are user-friendly. But these systems need huge human resources for management, content creation, presentation and distribution. The human resource has to be intelligent, well informed, trained and professional. From journalism to animation, printing to network engineering, creative artists and writers to media managers – large number of media professionals are required in the near future. Besides working for the ever-growing media organizations, there is a tremendous scope for self-employment and entrepreneurship. One word of caution is necessary at this stage. Looking at the responsibility of the Media and its working, personal qualities of prospective entrants in Media are much more important than specific academic and professional degrees.
Communication skills: Anyone desirous of entry in the Media must be very hard-working, self-confident, well-versed in the required skills and, above all, must possess excellent communication skills. Notwithstanding one’s score in the academics i.e. examinations, only those will be able to enter the Media field who can project themselves effectively right from group discussion to interview to actual working on the desk and/in the field. They must be able to think clearly, write clearly for print/electronic/internet/web media with an eye on the readers, viewers’ and users’ requirements and their level of understanding. Their written ‘copy’ should mean value addition to its target audience.
It is, therefore, clear from the above narration that there are vast opportunities for employment and also of entrepreneurship in the Media and Media-related fields. Media requires competent and result-oriented professionals. Here comes the important role of universities, colleges, professional institutions and bodies imparting education and training in diverse fields under the overall umbrella of Media.
An exclusive university in this field — Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism and Communication with headquarters at Bhopal and campuses at Noida (UP) and Khandwa (MP) and nearly 500 study institutes/ centers has been playing a significant role in imparting media education. The University has lot many courses ranging from the print media to the ultra modern electronic media in all its varied audio-visual forms and manifestations besides computer science and applications, advertising, public relations, mass communication etc.
Print media has umpteen numbers of positions which can be mentioned under three main groups – reporting, editing and general management such as advertising, HR, marketing, circulation, accounts etc. Positions are: REPORTING – reporter, senior reporter, chief reporter, principal correspondent, special correspondent, bureau chief; EDITING – sub-editor, chief sub-editor, deputy news editor, news editor, assistant editor, editorial advisor, editor, editor-in-chief etc. In the fast changing scenario, nomenclature of various positions keeps on changing and varying from newspaper/periodical to newspaper/periodical.
Electronic media covers mainly radio, electronic, web, internet, new media etc. Broadly, nomenclatures in the electronic media are: CREATIVE SIDE – script writer, visualize, graphic designer, scenic designer, creative director and many other positions. TECHNICAL SIDE — programme producer, cameraman, sound recordist, broadcast/video engineer, video recordist, video editor, make-up man, floor manager, animator, lighting director, technical director etc. NEW MEDIA — content developer, content manager, web page developer, web page designer, web page manager etc.
Advertising is yet another key field under the overall umbrella of Media. There is vast scope for careers in Advertising for positions such as: account executive, client servicing executive, copy writer, visualize, media planning executive, persons for research, marketing, sales, event management, graphic designer, creative director etc.
Public Relations, now called Corporate Communication, offers large career opportunities for those who are cut for this career through self-confidence, high degree of PR orientation, hard work, foresight and far sight and understanding of human psychology. Posts include public relations/information assistant, public relations officer/executive, corporate Communication manager, general manger and executive director/corporate communication etc.
Qualities for success: Let us now underline qualities required for success in a career in the media. These are: intelligence, dedication, open eyes and ears, hard work, self-confidence, urge to meet knowledgeable persons and develop ‘sources’, fearlessnesses, public relations orientation, determination to update and outsmart others, good communication skills – more than just verbal written, knowledge/information/opinion gathering, assimilation, verifying, updating and preparing ‘copy’ for print and electronic media. In addition, he/she must have an eye on the users requirements and organize himself/herself accordingly.
All this is fine and encouraging. But, how does a person prepare himself/herself for a career in the Media and/or Media-related organizations? Like other disciplines, there are courses in the vast gamut of subjects in the universities, colleges, professional institutes, media houses, NGOs etc. Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism and Communication, with a student-strength of nearly one lakh throughout the country, has several courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Looking to the fast changing media scene and consequential requirements of manpower required for manning various positions, the University is all set to launch several new and specifically designed courses from the academic session 2010-2011. These include courses in video production, multimedia, graphics and animation, entertainment communication, advertising and marketing communication, corporate communication, internet journalism, printing technology, environment communication, spiritual communication etc.
Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi, Departments of Journalism, Mass Communication and Media Studies in the Universities and colleges having departments for these courses and/or papers in Media and Media-related areas , various private media schools turn out qualified and trained professionals. Ideally, for professional courses in the Media, the training institutions must have a mix of theory and practice. Surely, more of practical training in the institutions’ own laboratories as also in the media outfits will be helpful. They must provide training on the state-of-the-art technologies for specific applications in the Media.
Internship/Attachment: An important component of these professional courses is internship /attachment with media and media-related houses, on-the-job training, project work etc. Newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television channels and other media allow attachment of media students in different sections. For example, students opting for print journalism learn the actual operations of the news room, editorial desk and associated areas. From where and how the news flow, how is it screened and taken up for editing and preparing copy for the newspaper. How headlines, sub-headings, paragraphs, checking of information and analysis in the news story is done before the same becomes a publishable news story. Then, how pages are made with positioning of each story. Students are also assigned coverage of events, programmes, press conferences followed by preparation of stories thereon.
In the radio and television area, one has to learn how various programmes directed towards specified target audience are conceived, persons identified and briefed, and programs produced including shooting, mixing, voice over etc. Every well-established newspaper, radio and/TV station has an archives wherein written references and literature as also photographs are carefully stored for retrieval and use if and when required.
In the above narration, we have covered the importance of media and Media-related organizations, areas covered, nomenclatures, job requirements and education and training facilities for entry into these fields. Let us now discuss the preparedness for getting selected for a position in the Media and Media-related organizations. Besides the university degree, one needs to decide for himself/herself the specific career according to one’s urge and inclination, hunt for the right institution for admission in the professional course in the Media, do that course and then be eligible for a career. It is extremely important that during the professional course, the person must start writing from day one because all openings in the Media call for writing skill. If he opts for print media, he must start with a letter to the editor followed by feature and article writing and news story of an event or an interview. At the end of the course, he must have a file of at least 15-20 published stories, features, articles under his name. That will create an impression on the selection board that the candidate can write – an essential requirement for entry into the Media.
Similarly for entry into the electronic media, the person must start conceiving and writing a program – a news story or a feature or script for an event and so on. He must make full use of the learning during the internship/attachment with an electronic media – right from concept to preparation and beaming of the programme and its impact on the target audience.
Advertising and public relations also call for specific skills in conceiving and writing ‘copy’ for an advertisement or a press note or an article or a speech or an annual report etc. one must practice writing for different purposes and for different audiences and attain mastery. A file of articles or press releases or ‘copy’ for advertisements will immediately impress the selection board about the candidate’s thinking and writing ability.
Above all, the person must be able to demonstrate his competence and usefulness to the organization not just through smart responses and talking but through producing specimens of his writings. These, in totality, will give him/her an edge over other candidates for a career in the Media and Media-related organizations.
C.K. Sardana is a faculty member at Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism & Communication, Bhopal.