THE THUMB PRINT SERIES
India has witnessed a surge of media institutions all over the country in the past decade. The Thumb Print has launched a special series on media education in the country in order to understand its evolution and future.
Dr. Kh. Kabi is Professor & Head of the Department of Mass Communication, Rajiv Gandhi Central University, Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh. Earlier he had taught at the Department of Visual Communication at SRM University, Chennai then at the Department of Mass Communication, Tezpur University. He speaks to our Managing Editor TERESA REHMAN about the challenges of media education in a frontier state like Arunachal Pradesh.
What kind of changes do you think can be incorporated in media education in the country?
Unlike other discipline the nature of media studies is dynamic one because it is also driven by the development of new information technologies. For instance, in the early days the focus was on print media then electronic media and now it is digital media. Therefore, media educations have to keep updating their curriculum in order to meet the changes in each medium and its process of communication. Now media communication is process-oriented rather than functional. Besides this, efforts for academic and industrial interface should be of priority where both media institutions as well as media professionals are given the opportunity to learn from each other. For example, media professionals can impart skills, both hard and soft to media students and they can in turn acquire conceptual understanding of social and cultural issues by participating in various academic activities such as seminars and workshop. Most importantly, there is also lack of good quality research output in media institutions, collaborative efforts between media institutions and professional media organizations in research programmes and policy matters should be initiated. Such joint efforts would help to function in a manner that influences each other rather than being driven by the market force.
Do you think the curriculum of media education needs to be tailored according to the social milieu of every region?
It is very important to contextualize and make the curriculum according to specific region. Otherwise knowledge imparted to the students would have no relevance to their own society but at the same time, that does not mean it should ignore the national and international perspectives. In other words, it should be holistic and vibrant. The regional aspirations should be democratically reflected in the curriculum.
What are the unique characteristics of media education in your institution?
We are one of the first media institution to introduce “Media in Northeast India” in our curriculum and included an eminent award-winning journalist from the region as member of our Board of Studies in making our syllabus. Besides, we also have a senior journalists’ from the state as a guest faculty in our department who teaches reporting and editing. Our department is one of the first media institutions in the region to launch media literacy campaign in various schools and colleges in collaboration with media organization like Arunachal Times and business houses like E & K Groups of Restaurants and Indian Oil depot, Doimukh.
What do you think are the expectations of students from the media courses being offered in the institutions around the country?
The obvious expectation of students who come to do their course in media institutions is to gain both theoretical and practical knowledge and skills so that they are well equipped for a good career both in regional and national media. But the present scenario in media job market does look bright because of the emergence of digital media. Therefore, it is a challenge for media institutions to cope with the changing scenario and accordingly structure our curriculum. We invariably have to inculcate multi-skilling and multi-tasking abilities and our curriculum should reflect these enablers.
Do you think issues like conflict journalism should be incorporated in the curriculum in the conflict-torn regions of the country?
Definitely. It is important especially in a volatile prone conflict region like Northeast India. In fact, we have introduced conflict reporting in our course curriculum as an optional paper. Better still, we call it peace journalism which is necessary for the prosperity of the region. In this regard we have also organized conference and workshops for working journalist on the issue.
Do you think a good media school can produce good journalists?
There is no doubt about it because media institutions teach them not only theory and skills but also make strong efforts to impart good human values to the aspiring students and make them good thinking journalists. This I believe is the main objective and challenges of every media institution. This is possible when we democratize real knowledge. We are aiming at it.