Media has become an indispensable part of today’s world. The very article that you’re reading now is a product (read report) of extensive research, intense verification, meticulous collation, and refinement, all worked out by a team of writers and editors. The world today is busier with a myriad of bustling happenings and phenomenal discoveries that yearn to be shared. And, these stories become the main theme of our social intercourses. You speak and you might be heard by a few, but when you write and publish it, it’s an invitation for the whole world to participate in the discourse. Journalism is one of the few fields that unites the holy trinity of information, education and entertainment. With its steadfast duties and fanciful layers, the fourth estate can be a thing of awe and allure. If the subject has caught the attention of your child, we tell you how to proceed.
What it takes to be a journalist
Padmaja Shaw, retired professor, Department of Communication and Journalism, Osmania University, Hyderabad, says, “The child should have a nose for news. Also, she should have curiosity, possess the ability to think and question, never accept any information on face value, and always be ready to look at newer explanations. Journalism also calls for an uncompromising commitment to honesty and accuracy of information, even if sometimes that questions one's own understanding and beliefs.”
Journalism can be broadly classified into three categories, depending on the type of media – Print Journalism, Digital Journalism and Broadcast Journalism (television and radio). Of course, within these media too, the type of journalism varies depending on the stream chosen – politics, crime, investigative, photo, war, finance, sports, fashion, infrastructure, medical, spiritual, lifestyle, education, and more – the list is long. With the explosion of digital journalism in recent years, opportunities have only grown manifold.
“Journalism today is not only about telling stories or letting your masses know what happens where; it's more about listening to your readers. It's more about interacting with them and engaging with them. Thanks to the Internet, anybody can float information and share it with millions across the globe, which means anybody can now be a journalist," says Natasha Aranha, Owner, Founder, and Director, Indian School of Media, Mumbai.
A Bachelor’s in Journalism, Mass Media or Mass Communication is a good place to get started. Master’s is a progressive option. However, anybody with a flair for writing (even from fields other than the ones mentioned) can pursue a career in journalism. Ultimately, quintessential passion is what drives one to excellence. Ravi Kiran, a leading journalist from Bengaluru, says, “I never really studied journalism, but it was my passion for the subject that brought out the journalist in me. Over the last 15 years, I have worked in some of the best names in print, television, radio and digital. To be a journalist, qualifications will help; but, it is your passion that will overshadow everything else. You need to feel inspired all the time.”
Padmaja adds, “Over the last decade, journalism has become increasingly digitised in all its operations. It has also become more visual. No media product today is presented without some visual component. So, competency with computers and understanding visuals will be a big advantage. Work flow has become more streamlined and efficient. However, journalists should be able to multi-task and possess a variety of skills like writing, editing, page design, writing for websites, and adapting styles to suit different media.”
A career in journalism is filled with opportunities across a wide spectrum – print media, radio, television, web, and the possibility of starting and running media activities on one's own.
Your child can find a job as a reporter, editor and fact-checker at any of the several newspapers in the country. Magazines, be it news, sports, lifestyle or medical, will employ journalists with the particular specialisation they require. Opportunities in web portals for news and entertainment are abundant. The radio industry requires personnel with a specific set of skills. The big, burgeoning world of television employs journalists by the hundreds – not just the news presenters you see on screen; but, reporters and editors who work backstage too.
Pay and perks
“The pay scale depends on how much you prove your skills,” says Natasha. “My students have been employed for INR 25-35K per month right from the start. They're of course the cream. But, even an average student picks up a job with a decent package, sometimes better than the engineers!” she adds.
About the perks one can enjoy in this industry, Padmaja says, “While providing a variety of opportunities for travel, journalism also gives one a chance to meet interesting people – celebrities, politicians, achievers and more. It gives opportunities for understanding the ground realities in society. For those interested in making a difference, this is the profession to be in. People with highly developed language skills and those with several skills grow within the profession fast.”
Importance of internships
Internships help young aspirants to step into the front lines of journalism from the safe and controlled comfort zone of their classrooms. Interning at any media house, during or after the course can provide one with much-needed exposure. Natasha sees the growing internship opportunities as a big boon. She exclaims, “The good news is that the giant news channels are hiring interns. Top agencies like India Today, CNN IBN, TOI, Viacom 18, Mid-Day and DNA are open to hiring interns. If they like the candidate (during internship), he or she gets absorbed.”
Scope for excellence
The secret to excel in this field is to understand your audience. Natasha says, “You need to have key digital skills and tools under your belt. Digital innovation and understanding the digital platform is essential. Journalism is, now, not only about knowing the language, how to edit, and so on; but, knowing how you sell and what your consumer likes.”
This is the age of journalism
“The scope is tremendous today for journalists,” claims Natasha. “The digital world has opened so many avenues. The government’s ‘Make in India – 2016’ campaign needed so many journalists to manage content – advertisements, press releases, buzzing news, to name a few roles. So, you see there is so much of employment generation that has happened. This is the right time to get into journalism.”
This is just a glimpse of the gleaming world of journalism for you. If this has got your child excited, there’s only more waiting in store for him. With the right education and grooming, you could be reading his article in the newspaper with your morning coffee or watch the dinner-time news knowing he’s right behind the screens!