Dayananda Sagar University: Facilitating Advancements Accommodating Youths 
Dayananda Sagar University

Education institutions of today are required to develop educational facilities that cater to the requirements and needs of an upcoming generation who covet to pursue a non-traditional profession in the light of new emerging trends and breakthrough advancements in almost every field, along with the endless new opportunities that are emerging, to make a career.

One rising field that portrays a promising career to today’s youth is Journalism and Mass Communication. Acknowledging the gaps in the availability and facility provided in this field of education program, Dayananda Sagar University decided to cater to students who can now avail the benefit of studying this advanced course that is not only fulfilling but also contemporarily crucial.

The College of Journalism and Mass Communication (CJMC) at DSU is the top undergraduate media school in the nation that offers cutting-edge training in print, electronic and digital media. It advocates for moral communication techniques and basic human ideals.

CJMC is in a different league from other colleges. This claim is based on several strengths of its programs. The study program they provide is distinct in that its students learn theory and skills. The college emphasizes that the courses are taught only by faculty members with extensive industry experience and places great prominence on learning by doing.

The college extends learning to sources beyond the classroom. Regular visits by distinguished guest speakers from the world of media ensure students stay ahead of the latest and are acquainted with the luminaries of the media world. Students also visit the offices of TV channels, radio stations, and newspapers to see how they work.

The Knowledge Review interviewed the Founding Faculty & Professor of the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at DSU, Mr Rakesh Katarey, who let us know more about the trailblazing conveniences they nurture in their university.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Please tell us about the journey of Journalism and Mass Communication School since its inception.

Before it started in 2016, Dayananda Sagar University noticed that according to FICCI, the Indian media and entertainment (M&E) industry had grown at a CAGR of 11.8%, and by the end of 2014, the industry worth stood at INR 1039 billion. While television and radio grew by over 15 per cent, Print Media registered a 9 per cent CAGR, backed by growth in vernacular media. By 2018, this growth was expected to touch Rs 1785.8 billion with a CAGR of 14.2 per cent.

While the media industry had grown, thanks primarily to vernacular media, so had the opportunity for placements. At a bare minimum, the following career options were available to a trained media graduate or postgraduate: newspapers, magazines, TV news, TV program production, film Industry, web design and content, digital journalism, media management, public relations, advertising, media and market research, and entrepreneurship.

However, there were three dissatisfying responses to these developments:

  1. Only 330 out of the 660 government-approved institutions offered mass communication and journalism courses.
  2. There were many media schools without industry-trained faculty, equipment, or infrastructure.
  3. Distance education degrees were being offered that could not provide required professional training offline; for instance, broadcast courses and camera and microphone techniques could only have been taught offline

The proposed school of communication recognized these gaps as also opportunities. It sought to enter mass media education with courses that combined hands-on training in communication practice coupled with essential theoretical knowledge. In doing so, it aimed to produce a vibrant group of young professionals responsive to the growing material and intellectual needs of society, the self, and the communications industry.

Tell us the vision, mission, and core values of the school.

Therefore, the mission has been to create a new class of modern mass media professionals by blending theory and practice and inculcating a keen sense of social responsibility by promoting universal human values and new media skills that enable them to pursue opportunities in the convergence era shortly.

Being a prominent school, what significant contribution have you made in Indian journalism and mass communication education to uplift the sector?

One of the major complaints of the industry noticed among media graduates from most universities was that graduates from a few universities were adept at using media equipment. However, they had no understanding of the society they were communicating to.

Using UNESCO’s recommendations, CJMC designed a curriculum wherein foundational courses in Contemporary Indian History, Indian Constitution, Sociology, and Political Philosophy formed the base of knowledge over which skill courses were mounted. Three years later, Economics was also added to complete the list. Later, this became a primary recommendation of the Govt’s New Education Policy (NEP). And the current program has further added the History of Science as per the NEP recommendations.

The college was the first in the country, beginning in 2016, to make a foray into digital media, offering complete courses in online journalism and digital communication, including training in social media. This ensures that the students of the first batch can take up jobs in digital media.

What challenges did the journalism and mass communication school come across since its inception, and how did the school overcome them?

The first major challenge that was very successfully overcome was hiring the top professionals and academicians who’d be able to deliver the program.

The second major challenge came from convincing the prospective students and their parents that there was a different approach to teaching a communication program and how it was getting students industry-ready for the future, not just the present; that this program was designed and influenced by the best social scientists of the world sitting on the UNESCO committee at that time; that the program would be delivered by the best industry professionals and highly experienced academicians with international exposure. Parents often compare our program with other state universities’ objectives convenient to the respective universities.

However, these are familiar challenges for anyone choosing to be avant-garde.

As a leading journalism and mass communication school, what difference did the school make in the journalism and mass communication segment, and how did it help the upcoming generation?

Most practical courses are taught by seasoned industry professionals, including chief photographers, award-winning television producers, accomplished advertising agency heads, public relations professionals, and national newspaper editors and correspondents. It follows from what has been stated above that CJMC produces cutting-edge professionals ready to discharge their roles in a digital-driven media world. They are fully trained to enter the broadcast and online media industries by providing top professional software, systems, and cameras.

What could be the differentiating factor for CJMC — our secret ingredient — might well be the continuous interaction between faculty and students, which helps the students discover themselves. From diffident, unsure youngsters when they join, they leave the portals of CJMC as confident, responsible, independent-thinking individuals who are ready to become skilled and talented professionals.

The evidence lies in the leading industry banners where our alums now work and in the range of postgraduate programs our students are pursuing in India and abroad. The ratings speak for the college. Based on its programs, CJMC has maintained the highest (5-star) rating since 2016, following reviews by professionals, alums, parents, and students on Google and Facebook.

CJMC’s curriculum has been refined year-to-year and is entirely in tune with changes brought in by the digital revolution. Its program curriculum has been examined and reviewed as “Very timely and extremely relevant” by accomplished alumni from the Universities of Oxford and Columbia.

It is no surprise that our students have excelled in various fora and inter-institutional competitions with a sparkling record of bagging the top prizes at every festival and debate competition they have participated in. They have turned in many publications in established newspapers during their internships.

The college provides internships to students in their Fourth Semester (Second Year) and helps with placements once their degree is completed.

In what is possibly a special feature of the college, internships are tailored to each student’s interests and are set up for every student by the college. The internship puts to test the student’s learnings, and they often return to class more familiar with the world of work.

Internships are not merely helping students crystallize their areas of specialization. They return wiser and more confident about taking on the world. It changes their attitude and interest toward academics within the classroom.

Students have completed their internships in top media houses, marquee TV channels, leading ad agencies, well-known newspapers, PR companies, online and digital media companies, and PR firms such as CNBC TV 18, Colours Kannada, ET Now, Zee Kannada, 24 Ghanta TV, Pixel Pictures, Swaraj TV, Ogilvy, Akshara Ads, Disha Advertising, Trend AdFilms, Media Plus, Radio Fever 91 FM, The Times of India, Deccan Herald, The New Indian Express, Bangalore Mirror, Priya Communication, The Hitavada, Department of Information & Public Relations (Government of Karnataka), Rsquare

Consulting Services, Pepper Media, Centre for Internet, and Society, BrandComm, Red Communications, CommStrat PR, Eurox PR, and The Little Things.

The proof of the pudding is in its eating. Kindly judge CJMC by its demonstrated ability in terms of its media productions. A sampler of links is provided to enable you to do so.

Which activities should Indian journalism and mass communication education conduct on the campuses to indulge the necessary skills in students?

Digital media, writing, Indian language journalism, and upgraded design and video software training.

Being a prominent school, what are the things that keep the school motivated to make a difference in the country’s journalism?

CJMC is a true-blue liberal arts school that promotes freedom, social responsibility, democracy, and universal human values. This value system, coupled with skills in information gathering, cross-checking facts and data for accuracy, wide reading, and critical thinking, the curriculum gets the students ready to meet the mission to promote good, honest, accurate, fearless, and socially responsible journalism.

To become a successful and fearless journalist, what skills should the youth possess?

Any aspiring young journalist must be wedded to fairness and committed to legwork, along with excellent search skills. All these give the confidence to question those who wield power and authority. These are essential elements of accurate and fearless journalism.

What advice would the school provide to future generations to become an inspiring journalists?

Honesty is the best policy. It provides clarity and keeps journalism relevant to society.

How do you envision the future of journalism and the school as well?

In any democracy, people need the information to make sound decisions. Information, however, cannot be expected to be provided by those in power. Therefore, as long as the hunger to provide credible information and serve democracy remain relevant, the future of the college, provided it keeps employing new technology and pedagogy, is secure.

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