Journalism, it is said, is nothing but creating literature on the go.
It would be cliched but true nonetheless to claim that nowadays, all we do is consume news. Television and the Internet have been greatly responsible for this. After a session of surfing the net you feel as if lot of information has been dumped down on you. Thus in this age and time a career in media seems very challenging.
The question which arises though is should one directly go for the media studies for their graduation itself or study any core subject and then shift to media studies only at a post-graduation level?
JAM spoke to few students and professors of the courses of Bachelors of Mass Media (BMM) and Bachelors of Arts (BA), Mumbai University to find answers. The answers to this question are many and varied. A view most commonly shared by the BMM professors is that the students should not be exposed to the media field at an undergraduate level for they lack the maturity and depth which is a pre requisite to be a responsible professional.
The BMM syllabus is a mish- mash of basic Arts subjects with an addition of topics from management. It also gives scope for an individual to display his/her creativity through numerous projects. It is one of the reasons that so many people get attracted to BMM.
The university claims that the structure is designed to give a media student an all-round knowledge of everything ,making him/ her holistic and balanced in his/her approach .In simple words all BMM grads are,’Jack of all trades but masters of , maybe some’. The six semester pattern allows the course to be very vast, rapidly touching the topics from literature to philosophy to brand management, creative writing and even film making. The portion does not’cover’ these topics for it slightly touches upon them.
BMM is highly’practical’ course which gives some industry exposure to its students. The on the job projects would easily satiate one’s creative hunger but what about the theory? Media guys especially the journalists need to do in depth analysis about every topic they wish to put forth in front of the society.
BMM equips the students with the’skills’ needed to work but there is no foundation created as such. There are media professors who counter this and believe that information nowadays is available anywhere and almost everywhere. BMM provides you with the skill set to package and assimilate the information which is already available .But in that case, how one can explain one absence of good , well researched stories on channels and in print today?
A mistake most commonly made is to think that after BMM one would get a direct if not easy entry into the industry. It is not entirely a misconception but it also depends the college from where you are graduating, their contacts and their alumni connections in the industry. A BMM alumnus from Wilson College confirms this and adds that more than the actual’training’, a good college helps you build the contacts in media and once you get an entry you can easily learn on the job. This is not true for colleges which are far away from the’town’. Teachers and students commonly share a sentiment that the scraping of the entrance for BMM by the university has increased the number but steadily decreased the quality .Many people pursuing BMM accidentally stumble upon the course or do it just for a heck of graduating. For some, a tag of a’Mass Media’ graduate is glamorous, sadly quite a few of them are attracted only because they want to do,’something hatke’, this reason is not convincing enough to be a serious journalist. University should add more courses for the Arts students as these guys do not have an option other than BA or BMM. For example a course in legal apprenticeship is needed only then will only people who are genuinely interested can join the course, this would cut the numbers.
Pursuing B.A. on the other hand would make your basics,’pakka’ and then depending on your subject you can specialize in a’beat’ to write on. Studying philosophy, literature and psychology creates a frame of mind to analyse social issues but then one would have to hone the skills of a professional on the job or by pursuing a Masters in journalism. In three years of a BA you learn the core subjects unlike BMM .But then you can expand the horizons of sanctioned topics in BMM and study any topic in depth. That’s what journalists do for they have to constantly keep updating, learning and re-inventing themselves .For example a crime beat journalist once told me that she has to ,’think like a criminal ‘every time she is in the process reporting a case.
There are art schools sure, but an artist cannot be taught to paint as the basic talent comes from within. Similarly all the J-schools and courses in the world cannot teach you to be a journalist, ad maker, film director or a media professional, it does and should come naturally to you . It doesn’t ultimately matter whether you do BA or BMM if you are serious and hardworking enough to sustain the demands and pressures of this dynamic, and a crazy industry called ‘Media’.
Look up JAM’s BMM Special and articles related to mass media