Friday, August 15, 2014

Colour of Indian Journalism and career opportunities with the bondage of corporate world

India is currently experiencing extraordinary media expansion, with intense competition between players in the industry. Newspapers and broadcasters are anxious to get the inside story out first. The promise of investigative journalism has finally evolved with the times.

Colour of Indian Journalism and career opportunities 

Iconic NDTV Journalist Ravish Kumar with a group of fans

Journalism in India has considerable employment scope these days, with media houses opening new channels or newspapers on a regular basis. While salaries are shooting up, the pool of skilled and qualified journalists is not keeping pace. Without a sufficient number of good reporters and editors, the challenge that the profession faces is of enforcing more rigorous professional standards.

Though print media is read widely and makes money, Indian news organisations are now using online technology to deliver the benefits of the Internet: the most current and up-to-date information, ability to search the content and instantly share information with others. All major newspapers and TV stations in India have launched their own websites to supplement their traditional forms of news delivery. Some are also applying multimedia technology, integrating text, video and audio in news reporting, and in some cases, real-time. Users are able to obtain information on their computers, cell phones and several other hand-held devices.

In this media environment, aspiring journalists will benefit most from training on a concentrated, hands-on curriculum designed to familiarise them with each and every aspect – theoretical, practical and technical – of digital reporting.

As never before, India needs more skilled young journalists who have the ability to cover the story well. There are many well-meaning, sincere journalists in the field who lack adequate training, especially in digital reporting. This suggests a considerably broader mission for journalism colleges to fill that need. Breadth of curriculum, background of faculty, resources available at the institution, and job placements and awards received by graduates are obvious indicators of the quality of any J-school.

A writing career is not an oxymoron. The writing life can be a vocation. Consider a career in journalism, for instance. It can be something that you do full-time and it can be something that can be as gratifying as any career. It can pay bills and put food on the table and fruits in the basket. Like any other professional option, a career in journalism in India requires planning and passion but importantly patience. 

Among the dozens of journalism colleges in India, there are only a few that have an adequate curriculum. The Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media (IIJNM), Bangalore is a pioneer in the field of digital journalism education, introducing the multimedia stream in India. Its trainee journalists may opt to study in the Print, Broadcast or Multimedia streams and gain both a practical focus as well as instruction in sound theory. IIJNM is independent of any news agency or organisation, which allows it to tap all media sources for greater placement opportunities.

Get a Career in Journalism

Journalism has an inevitable impact in our lives. Be it broadcast journalism, print or the web, media has always brought the world to our living rooms. Recently I saw an advertisement on Television which stated that, “In this age of technology, it is absolutely criminal to say you are lost!” Journalism has that effect on you; can you ever be lost with the media buzz around you.

So, what exactly is Journalism?

Simply described, journalism is all about collecting information and disseminating the facts and figures to the public via print, television and Internet. Journalists present the news in a manner that is useful, informative and thought-provoking.

Various Roles in Journalism Careers

When we speak of the term journalist, you could be a reporter working on the field or a sub editor, “subbing” a reporter’s copies. That’s why you should have knowledge on the hierarchies in journalism.

i. Reporter

The journalist, in the capacity of a reporter is the most basic but essential position. He is the one who collects the story information and is also, often the one who gets the story idea! If you want to be a reporter, you need to have that “go-getting” attitude, the desire to pull out facts of a story, conduct interviews and gather first hand information (strictly!). Some of them take a professional photographer along too. A reporter needs to have a sense of time and accuracy; the person shouldn’t shirk from going at odd hours to seize a ‘breaking news’ story.

Remember, it’s all about right timing and a different angle brought to your story that ‘clicks’! So, a reporter is the one who senses a story out of a rather mundane piece of news! There are Special reporters also hired at times who specialise in a particular field like Education, politics, crime or Sports.

ii. Feature writer

A regular in all tabloids, a feature writer gives the readers that much required respite from the regular routine news. Feature writing is about telling the readers a story, a thoroughly researched, meticulously presented story. The difference between a feature writer and a reporter is that a news writer may not have enough preparation time owing to the urgency and timing of news. A feature writer can plan a story for months. These are human interest stories. That doesn’t mean a feature writer’s life is easier – they have to spot and juggle multiple stories at the same time.

iii. Intern

It is not as easy to start off immediately in the field of journalism. To hone and fine tune your skills, starting off as an intern for a newspaper/tabloid is the best option. Not only would you get maximum exposure but also an inside knowledge on how a newspaper works. Many students while pursuing their degree/diploma for journalism take up an internship and by the time they are pass out, they are ready to hit the floors! As an intern, you are either paid per article or a fixed stipend.

iv. Proof reader

The story has been written by the reporter but needs an initial check:
Is the punctuation in place? Any grammatical errors in constructing the sentence? Wrong synonyms used? A proof reader scans the reporters’ copy giving his nod on spelling and grammar checks!

v. Sub editor

Once the proof reading is done and accuracy of data is checked, the sub-editor takes the copy in his hands. ‘Subbing a copy’ involves rewriting the article to suit the requirements of the paper/tabloid. He also needs to give an appropriate and ‘dashing’ headline which we, as readers get ‘hooked’ to! A sub-editor’s job requires imagination, an advanced understanding of the language and a good knowledge of news locally as well as globally.

vi. Designer

If you are used to reading more than just one paper a day (like myself), you are sure to notice the difference in page layouts and space utilisation. There are some papers which are cramped with information and lose appeal. The designer comes to your rescue and places the articles, advertisements in such a manner that ensures lucid reading! The designers receive the final articles from the Sub-editors/Senior sub-editors and also get the space page availability details.

v. News Editor

To become a News editor, you need at least 6 to 7 years experience as a Senior Sub Editor. This person is pivotal for the smooth transition of stories from reporters to the sub editors and from there on to the Design team. He plays the role of ‘Quality check’, and if required may re-write important or Page 1 stories, ensuring fine quality news and is second in line to the Resident Editor.

vi. Editor / Resident editor

This person is obviously on top of the line and in contrast to what people may think, he is actually the most actively involved member in the team. He has to oversee the final quality of the paper, brainstorm new ideas for stories and is ultimately responsible for the final output. He takes decisions to hire new columnists when the need arises and has the major responsibility of keeping in line with the deadlines. An Editor has to be creative, a calculated risk taker at times, instrumental for the consistency and continuity of the paper. Without a proper editorial head, any newspaper/tabloid working can go haywire!

vii. Qualifications required for a career in Journalism

There are various schools of journalism where one can pursue a B.A or M.A in Communication or Journalism, Diplomas in Journalism & Mass Communication and various other certificate courses. The journey in journalism is an unending process; every day teaches you a lesson or two.

Do you have what it takes?

So, you want to be a journalist? A journalist’s job is exciting, inspiring and a “full-of-life” kind but also involves a lot of gruelling hard work.

Be prepared for:

Long-working hours, deadline pressures, quality deliverance irrespective of time constraints, validation and authenticity of information collected

Salary Range in Journalism careers

Journalism as a career in India can pay well as you rise in the ranks. Entry level positions start at around INR 150,000 to 200,000 per annum and mid and senior level positions are between INR 800,000 to INR 1,500,000 per annum.

For star players, the salary can go higher.

What the future holds for journalism careers: The e-paper

Social media has taken over. The need of the hour demands digital news creation. Newspapers and magazines alike all have an e-presence. That the media can influence the readers is known but the Web has a huge audience worldwide, bringing world news at a minimal cost. Web content creation has become equally important in today’s age and hence, there are job requirements for Web designers, editors and consultants for newspaper websites.Institutions like IIJNM aim to bring about profound impact on India’s media scenario in the years to come. With improvement in the quality of journalism, we can certainly hope for superior reporting and news delivery, leading to better governance and stronger democracy in India.


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