Journalists and Scope of Journalism in India: 101

Journalists and Scope of Journalism in India: 101

“Journalism is the first draft of history”~ Philip L. Graham This quote helps explain the significance of journalism in contemporary society, where it

“Journalism is the first draft of history”~ Philip L. Graham 

This quote helps explain the significance of journalism in contemporary society, where it acts as the reinforcer of democracy and the “force for progressive social change.” 

To begin, journalism is essentially the process of recording and presenting events, opinions, and facts to the public to inform, educate, and entertain them. Besides this, the fundamental purpose of journalism in India is to tackle the 8 C’s: conflict, consequence, current, celebrity, cricket, change, caution, and culture. It is an interactive and thought-provoking component of the fourth pillar of democracy, that is, the media and upholds the sanctity of the citizen’s right to information (RTI). 

It was initially introduced while India was still under the British Raj through newspapers such as Bengal Gazette, Udant Martand, and the Bombay Herald. While diverse forms of journalism are now present, the initial medium used for propagating news to the masses were journals, which later translated into newspapers, then radio, then T.V, and now the internet. In other words, journalism is now broadly divided into 4 categories that function across sundry mediums: print, broadcast, digital, and photojournalism. 

In light of the mediums across which information is made available to the public, all of the aforementioned categories have pros and cons. To begin, print is the most reliable and authentic disseminator of information portraying strong credibility. Despite this, the medium continues to die at a staggeringly high rate due to a change in consumer behavior and company policy, wherein both steer towards environmentally-friendly practices such as eliminating print materials. Regardless, print continues to remain an unbeatable source of information that millions in the country still seek and some of the popular media houses include The Hindu, Times of India, and The Indian Express. Furthermore, it is the right career path for students with a flair for writing and those who seek a more methodical and closer investigation of news. 

On the other end of the spectrum, is a relatively new form of journalism, ie: photojournalism. While this form doesn’t emphasize on writing as a critical skill, it does require the five essential skills any journalist should possess: integrity, tenacity, commitment, accuracy, and empathy. It is a one-shot capture of important events and significant situations and people in history used to tell a story. It is quite literally channelizing the energy of the phrase “a picture paints a thousand words”. Some potent pieces include the Tiananmen Square massacre, “A life of manual scavengers in India by Senthil Kumaran”, and “Crematoria by Arkodripta Chakraborty”. This path of journalism is perfect for students who are inclined toward dissecting situations and people while evading the traditional writing aspect of journalism. However, it does have huge dependability on photography and requires one to be capable in that area. 

Similarly, broadcast journalism also serves as an alternative to the writing route while focusing more on people and camera skills. It is divided into the editorial team comprising the writing staff and the technical team, who are responsible for the AV (audiovisual) production of the content. While broadcast does involve the writing of scripts, it is essentially “writing for the ear”, which is an entirely different situation altogether. It involves using basic but refined grammar to effectively convey an event/happening for the first time through the ACE- action, cause, and effect format. Moreover, it holds central qualities such as confidence and boldness to reinforce the authenticity of the news. While this medium is extremely popular, it does have a few shortcomings, namely “infodemic”. To explain, “infodemic” is the overabundance of information, thereby blurring the lines between authentic and false information which occurs due to television agencies sensationalizing news and oft-times presenting untrue angles just to hold viewer’s attention and hence capitalize on the same. Nonetheless, this medium is still an important and powerful outlet in India including NDTV, Aaj Tak, and Republic TV. 

Lastly, a form of news media that continues to emerge victorious in the uncertain times of the pandemic is digital journalism. This takes place through digital startups which have in recent years revolutionized technology and utilized it to propagate information to a much larger chunk of the population at the click of an icon. Further, online journalism acts as a stark opposite of traditional media outlets which are increasingly getting privatized and driven by or promoting certain political agendas. Namely, batting against the ‘spiral of silence or strengthening the voice of the dominant class or sections of the Indian society, ie: those who speak Hindi or English while leaving rural and poor Indians out of the mainstream discussion. This takes place as oft-times there are no articles or information in regional languages, which keeps a majority of Indians who are illiterate or versed with local languages alienated from awareness of the world. However, this seemingly progressive culture of instant acquiring of knowledge and information does have certain downsides to it. The first major criticism is that in the age where accessing information is just as easy as putting it out on the internet, there is an absence of conscious fact-checkers and ultimately no method to prove the reliability of the person and the accuracy of the news. This is directly related to the “infodemic” which keeps spreading at an alarming rate. Nevertheless, these digital journalism startups are still extremely popular in India: The Quint, Scroll, The Wire, In Shots, etc. 

Together with the mediums of Journalism, one must also consider the various types which exist. To begin, journalism is divided into spheres dealing with hard news and those concerning themselves soft news. The former consists of facets such as Investigative Journalism, which is involved with uncovering the hidden truth or facts about an event or a person, Crime Journalism which comprises writing about criminal events for media outlets, and Business Journalism, which focuses on exploring news related-to business which affects the country’s economy and lastly Political Journalism, which circles around international, national, and political news. On the contrary, the latter includes Art Journalism, Celebrity Journalism, Sports Journalism, Lifestyle Journalism, etc. 

Further, moving towards how one should approach a career in journalism, the obvious first step is a college education. For this purpose, one can choose an undergraduate course in any field which interests them and later undertake a postgraduate course or a specialization. To explain, students can opt for Mass Communication, which is a popular choice amongst journalism students, or even courses such as English honors to strengthen their writing and language skills. Top 10 Mass Communication Colleges in India – Affiliation, Courses …

Top BA Colleges in India – 2022 Rankings, Fees, Placements

Moving forward, students should ideally pursue a postgraduate degree in journalism, preferably from known colleges. Popular course choices from Jamia Millia Islamia University include PG Diploma in Journalism, PG Diploma in TV journalism, and MA in Convergent Journalism. Welcome to Jamia Millia Islamia – A Central University. Another subsidiary of JMI is A.J.K Mass Communication Research Centre which offers PG Diploma in Broadcast Technology by A.J.K. Mass Communication Research Centre – Introduction. Additionally, the Indian Institute of Mass Communication offers courses such as PGD in English Journalism, PGD in Urdu Journalism, PGD in Radio & TV, etc. Indian Institute of Mass Communication

Coupled with having a plan or layout for the best colleges to pursue a career in Journalism, one must also prepare themselves in other ways. To put it differently, since the career is predominantly based on news and fact-checking, students from their early days should be aware of the situations around them and the circumstances all over the world. Besides this, they must develop specific skills such as writing in a potent yet expressive manner to grasp immediate attention and allow the readers to understand the news despite them being on a time crunch. Future journalists must also develop skills such as logical reasoning and research to analyze events in detail and present factual and unbiased accounts or retellings. Furthermore, attention to detail is an extremely important skill that one must possess for a high-stakes job in a demanding profession such as Journalism.  


Lastly, following the work and career trajectory of renowned journalists such as Faye D’Souza, Rana Ayyub, Barkha Dutt, Shweta Singh, and Rajdeep Sardesai can also be beneficial to understanding the career and learning curve in the field of journalism.