A Career In Journalism: Understanding The Basics

Posted on March 5, 2011 in Alternative Careers

 

By Shweta Dandekar:

When the word “journalism” pops into people’s heads, the first image they get is of a reporter on television. Of course, there is more to journalism than that. Their day consists of pegging of story ideas, interviewing people, checking facts and then re-checking them. Some stand outside a police station waiting for any news on any crime, some park themselves outside government buildings hoping to get a chance to question officials about their latest folly. More often than not, journalists are told to produce 3-5 articles per day for newspapers and obtain numerous sound bites for a news channel. Journalism is not anywhere close to glamorous — it takes patience, hard work, motivation to find out the truth and a great eye for news. So if you’re up for some serious, gritty work where big breaks are seldom, journalism is the profession for you.

Over the past few years, technology has changed drastically and with it – new facets of journalism have been born. From the time of Julius Caesar where publishing government announcement bulletins carved in metal or stone to make news available in our hands instantly, the concept of making common people aware of their surroundings has come a long way.

Journalism is primarily divided in three categories on the basis of the media it uses — print, broadcast and new media. The print media consists of newspapers, magazines and journals. This is the oldest form of journalism that still exists today. The print media is the slowest of all media in the context of output. Newspapers, magazines and journals give a better analysis of various topics as reporters get the most time to research. With the help of photographs, it makes the readers more interested in the news. Aspirants for the print media are required to have great writing and analysing skills. A fresher starting out in this industry will start out reporting on stories which are very basic. On most occasions one may not even get his/her name printed with the article. With perseverance one can choose their own specialization (or beat, such as, sports, crime, politics, nation, world, etc.) eventually. The ultimate job in the print media is that of an editor of the publication.

The second category of journalism, broadcast, includes television reporting, radio and the internet. Although this media may seem more glamorous than anything else, aspirants need to understand the work that goes behind it all. As news channels are on 24X7, the same news cannot be repeated over and over again. It may be repeated only if any developments on the story are made or new perspectives can be examined. The presenter/anchor is only a small part of the news bulletin. The real work lies behind the camera. So one could be either reporting, gathering news or enter the technical side and handle the different cameras and sound equipment. A reporter in broadcast journalism is required to be an excellent communicator and quick on his/her feet. It is also important that the reporter know how to handle a camera and edit the obtained sound bites. Time is of essence in this field.

The last category is new media. This is the up and coming form of news reporting, the effects of which are still not very clear. New media is the convergence of all media, which includes images, audio visuals, print, music and spoken word all on one platform. This convergence is primarily found on the internet. Newspapers, news channels, magazines, etc. have created their own websites which are excellent examples of new media. It is becoming widely popular among cell phone network providers and gadget lovers. A trend that is being observed is that of newspapers being shut down. Over 16,000 reporters lost their jobs in the year 2008-2009 due to public preference of new media to newspapers. In India, it is still not as developed as it is in Western nations.

Journalism has become a serious choice for a career. One may apply to various colleges across the country directly after the 12th standard (and pursue Bachelor in Media Studies/Mass Media). However, at the undergraduate level, journalism will not be the only subject that will be taught. The specialization courses can be chosen at the Post Graduate level (a UG course in media is not required as of now). To enter the best colleges, tackling examinations is required. Here you will be marked on your current affairs and general knowledge. Most colleges also call shortlisted students for an interview which is often a make or break deal. Some of the best colleges for a course in journalism are — Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA), Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune, and Xavier Institute of Communication, Mumbai.

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