There are the older universities, such as Delhi University, which have recently started bachelor’s degree programmes in journalism. Then there are newer institutions like Bennett University, which not only offers state-of-the art facilities, but also the best in-house expertise from The Times of India, Times Now and Times Internet. There also is Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIPU), which is government run and offers journalism courses through its affiliated private colleges.
Career counsellor Pervin Malhotra said that a bachelor’s degree can be backed by specialisation through a master’s degree course. “A bachelor’s degree in mass-media studies or journalism is an introduction to the medium. It is important to have a bachelor’s degree in media studies to understand new media, such as social media, and to learn how people are consuming news these days on mobile phones, Facebook and YouTube, among others,” said Malhotra. “One can work for a year or two after graduation and then decide on a specialisation. It could be with print or digital media or even in event management. One must remember today is an era of specialisation.”
However, universities have started offering specialisation even at the undergraduate level. For example, at Bennett University in the final semester, students can choose from five areas of specialisation: print, television, web and mobile journalism, advertising and public relations. Apart from print and television, these specialisations open up career opportunities as content producer/ writer for websites. There is an explosion of jobs in the digital space with e-commerce and fashion sites offering jobs to journalists and content writers or students familiar with video/ digital content production.
Though its first batch will graduate only in 2020, Bennett University is already in the list of experts’ destination for media studies. The institute draws its strength from being the first media school owned by a media house and, therefore, knowledgeable about what future journalists should be equipped for. The students also benefit from a hands-on linkage with the industry. “For undergraduate media studies, Bennett University is very good,” stated Malhotra. “While DU’s course is not up to date and lacks practical components, Indraprastha College’s course is good. Some of the GGSIPU colleges are also good options.” At Bennett University, students spend 60% of their time in labs or in the field, a curriculum that is more practice than theory and designed to be career ready.
One of the criteria for making the correct choice is the academic rigour involved and the skill set one acquires over the course of the three-year programme. According to Sunil Saxena, head, Times School of Media, Bennett University, “The journalism course is very rigorous, with the students starting at 8.30 am and working till 5.30 pm. The entire afternoon is spent in the lab or in the field, creating information bulletins, preparing newspaper reports, mobile reports or developing ad campaigns. There is also an intensive news analysis done three times a week, when important stories are thoroughly discussed. It aims to help the students acquire the relevant skills for a newsroom, advertising agency, digital sites and platforms or a public relations office.”
At GGSIPU, along with theory for each paper, there is a practical project that the students have to take up in each semester and for which a certain portion of the course marks is allotted. For example, in the first semester, a student may be required to complete a project in print journalism, in the second it could be television journalism or television production and so on.
For Malhotra, one of the key requirements while choosing an institution is the practical component offered there. This, according to her, is where DU lacks and where others score. At Bennett University, for instance, a student gets a full complement of skills in 10 media disciplines, among them print, TV, web journalism, mobile, advertising, public relation and event management. “One of the key skills students are imparted is knowledge of software,” pointed out Saxena. “It is the same software as the one used in The Times of India, Times Now or Times Internet. For video, they use Adobe Premier Pro, for sound editing Adobe Audition. There are eight to 10 different kinds of software that a student learns in three years.” After such a solid grounding, as Saxena observed, the Bennett University graduates will be the first truly multi-media batch of journalists in India the way they are trained.