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Journalism education in India:
A quality perspective

India brings out 45,000 newspapers, journals and periodicals in 105 languages and dialects. Yet journalism education is neglected. Experts must produce quality learning material and orient training to media needs, write Dr B P MAHESH CHANDRA GURU and MADHURA VEENA M L

What is India News Service

21 February 2005

The composite culture of India incorporates Mass Communication and Journalism in all its languages and regions. Education in this field made its advent through western influences via English colonial efforts. Mass Communication and Journalism education assumes new significance in the age of globalization and communication.

There is considerable potential for national initiative and co-operation in the production of educational materials and development of qualitative learning methods by those who are working at various universities, colleges and professional organizations or other institutions involved in Mass Communication and Journalism education.  Mass Communication educators, media professionals and policy makers are required to debate upon serious issues, challenges and responsibilities involved in Mass Communication education in India and provide necessary policy inputs in order to make Mass Communication education result oriented and purposeful.  More exchanges, interactions and inputs at various levels are required to further consolidate the core areas on which actions need to be taken. 

In India, about 45,000 newspapers, journals and periodicals are now brought out in 105 languages and dialects.  There are over 4000 daily newspapers and magazines.  India also produces the largest number o ffeature films and newsreels in the world.  All India Radio is known as the largest radio network in the world.  It runs 195 radio stations (including 183 full-fledged stations) and has 302 transmitters (144 MW, 55 SW and 103 FM channels).  All India Radio covers 90% of the geographical area and 97.3% of the country’s populace. 

Doordarshan, state-supported
television, has grown over the years as a promising broadcasting network. It has 83 HPTs, 600 LPTs, 19 VLPTs and 18 Transposers.  Doordarshan covers 72% of the geographical areas and 87% of the country’s populace.  India has become a global leader in software industry.  India has also become one of the few advanced countries in the field of satellite communication.  India has also achieved tremendous progress in the field of telecommunication.  The media industry in India has grown enormously and earned global appreciation. 

Status of Mass Communication and Journalism Education

In the Indian sub-continent, Punjab University of Lahore was the first to offer a journalism course.  In India, education and training in Mass Communication and Journalism is about 60 years old.  Media education in India has not received proper recognition from the government as well as media.  In India at present some 60 Universities, 25 agricultural universities and 100 private institutions annually train about 2000 students in various aspects of Mass Communication and Journalism including reporting, editing, photography, videography, printing, designing, advertising, public relations and so on.  Especially agricultural universities are imparting training on farm communication, extension education and development communication.  Most of the universities and colleges have provided infrastructural facilities and manpower in audio-visual communication field also to some extent.

However, Mass Communication and Journalism teaching, training, research and extension activities are not properly organized on sound footing of resources and systematic management.  Especially the teaching of communication skills and crafts in almost all Indian languages has been haphazard.  The Press Commissions (1954&1984) have recognized the importance of Mass Communication and Journalism training in the country.  However, the second Press Commission headed by Justice K K Mathew has made only a passing reference in this regard.  Sound Mass Communication and Journalism training in English and regional languages are very essential in order to develop media systems, professionals and activities vigorously.

Currently, the country’s mass media pattern is almost the same in all developing countries including Southeast Asia.  The Indian universities and other institutions have expanded educational services in accordance with the needs of the media industry.  Mass Communication and Journalism being the multi-faceted discipline and multi-pronged profession, planned, deliberate and specialized training in English and Indian languages is of great significance in a developing country like ours.  There is an all round progress in the mass media system in the country in the post independence era. Today, Mass Communication and Journalism education is taken for granted especially by the policy makers.  Most of the universities have not updated the syllabi in accordance with the changing media scenario.  Adequate faculty members who are specialists in various aspects of Communication and Journalism are not recruited because of policy constraints and financial constraints.  The faculty members are not given adequate opportunities to develop higher specialization, skill and competence.  In reality, fellowships, scholarships and other facilities are not extended to the faculty members adequately in order to ensure advanced studies, research and professional growth.

The students are taught history, theory, research, extension and a broad array of other aspects of Mass Communication and Journalism.  Educators with advanced degrees and diplomas are not available in plenty.  Those who have not experienced the real practical problems, challenges and opportunities are not in a position to handle the subjects judiciously.  There are sizeable number of Mass Communication and Journalism departments in the country, which are managed by one or two teachers and couple of part timers.  This is indeed a pathetic situation with respect to Mass Communication teaching in the country.  The private managements have taken the teachers for granted.  They are not encouraged by these private managements to acquire specialized  knowledge and experience.  Those who are qualified and competent professionally and otherwise are not encouraged with judicious pay, allowances, promotions and other benefits.

Media practitioners and scholars often find themselves on different paths. There are very few centers of learning where the citadel of Mass Communication education is directed at professional competence.  Even now there is no agreement on what Mass Communication education should be in India.  The question of whether universities should teach Mass Communication and Journalism has not been answered decisively.  Especially the private coaching institutions are not conducting the courses on sound agenda and grounds.  Even now there is dearth of qualified and competent teachers especially in regard to training the students in the fields of New Communication Technologies, Broadcasting Journalism, Film Journalism, Advertising, Public Relations, Media Laws, Media Management and so on.  A good deal of theoretical inputs are made available instead of adequate practically relevant components and inputs.  In the absence of practically relevant training the graduates are found in a helpless situation when they join the media organizations.  Lack of trained teachers, infrastructural facilities and upgraded syllabi are the major hurdles in the way of sound Mass Communication teaching.  Most of the departments are not getting latest books and professional journals due to financial constraints.  They do not have well equipped audio-visual lab, computer lab, photo lab, close circuit television, Internet facility, departmental library and allied facilities.

A major drawback of Mass Communication and Journalism education in India is the lack of locally relevant textbooks, professional journals and advanced reading materials.  Many scholars have identified this glaring gap with concern.  Senior media professionals and teachers are not encouraged to contribute their mite in this regard.  Publishers also show lukewarm interest in producing books which fit into Indian context mainly due to marketing and sales limitations.  The government, UGC, universities and publishing houses have not come forward to bridge this gap.  There is utter lack of locally relevant reading materials especially in Indian languages.  The libraries also have fewer books and professional journals.

The policy makers in the government, UGC, universities and other bodies have not accorded a place of pride to Mass Communication and Journalism education even though there are gainful employment opportunities to the students in the modern society.  Lot of funds are made available to medical, engineering, management and other professional courses in universities and private institutions.  Unfortunately Mass Communication and Journalism departments are hunting for funds from several quarters. These factors are largely responsible for the sorry state of affairs in journalism training.  The less said the better about the current state of journalism education in the Indian languages. Mass Communication and Journalism training programmes in India are not planned as an integrated development programme.  Even now universities, governments, UGC and media organizations have not come forward to work in unison.  Many scholars have also criticized the utter callousness and hostility on the part of media organizations in regard to journalism education in our country. 

Lack of Learning Perspective

There is no consensus with respect to syllabi in this age of communication revolution.  Many scholars have rightly felt that general instructions and classroom lectures particularly in universities and colleges are bookish, bereft of practical demonstration or explanation on the part of faculty.  Many have not worked in the print, audio-visual and new media organizations.  The latest techniques such as desktop printing, video display terminals, facsimile editions, videography, photography and so on are not fully and properly understood by the faculty, mainly due to lack of exposure and job-oriented training facilities.

Media institutions have become industrial centres.  We come across information industry, knowledge industry, entertainment industry, advertising industry and other kinds of media industries.  The expectations of these media industries are not properly understood by our policy makers and educationists.  What is Mass Communication and Journalism?  What are the expectations of the media industry?  How to train our students?  What should these students do in the media organizations?  These questions have to be answered by our policy makers and teachers in order to facilitate need-based training and make students worthy communicators of our times.  The purpose of Mass Communication education is more than understanding theory and practice, though communication skill development and communicators' capacity building are very essential.  Its purpose should go beyond these things.

Prof Dua suggests: “In fact eminent media persons should give constant advice on updating the course content.  The courses in all languages could be split into two general areas – (i) core and (ii) general, or optionals.  The core courses should include – (a) subject orientation, (b) inter-disciplinary back ground, (c) theoretical research and field survey, (d) basic and applied skills in all spheres of media- print, film and broadcasting including television and video, public relations and advertising, (e) compulsory media internship and production of professional assignments to be judged by senior media executives.”  He has also suggested the constitution of a regulatory body called Indian Council for Journalism / Mass Communication Education, Research and Training on the lines of Indian Council of Medical Education, Bar Council of India or Institute of Chartered Accountants.  This could be made responsible for standardization of course curricular, contents of training, quality of research, monitoring job opportunities and also collaborating with advanced Journalism / Communication bodies in abroad.

The ultimate purpose of Mass Communication training is to build a band of conscious, committed, competitive, courageous and compassionate professionals and nation builders.  The educational institutions should contribute champions of professionalism and public interest.  The media owners should look forward to recruiting such worthy graduates.  However, they should not be indifferent to these qualities of graduates.  It would simply mar the profession of Mass Communication and Journalism.  These aspects need proper introspections by the policy makers in the universities and colleges.  These aspects should be adequately covered in the syllabi at various levels of Mass Communication and Journalism training.  The great task for Mass Communication educators is to equip their students with a firm sense of professionalism.  Mass Communication and Journalism training institutions and programmes should become centers of excellence where these ideals are translated into realities.

The  teachers and trainees cannot confine themselves to the classroom.  The best foundation for a career in Mass Communication is in the field setting (newsroom in print media, studio in electronic media, film making settings in film media, computer room in software setting etc,). Practical exposure is indispensable. Otherwise, trainees remain malnourished practically and otherwise.  The media owners can no more remain under the age-old impression that  ‘Mass Communicators are born’.  They must encourage well-qualified, trained, skilled and competent work force in order to enhance professional excellence, accountability and social responsibility.

Mass Communication training programmes are not designed in tune with the changing media trends and expectations.  The programmes lack professional depth, seriousness and quality.  The need for involvement of media professionals in the training programmes is not felt by the policy makers.  The teachers are not deputed to media institutions in order to gain professional skill and outlook.  The students do not get opportunities frequently to gain familiarity with the diverse media systems and operations.  They do not personally understand the media environment along with social, economic, political and cultural needs and aspirations due to lack of frequent interactions.  The students are not enabled to acquire practical skills and operational competence on regular basis during their study period.  The standard of teaching, research, extension and publication activities is not periodically assessed in order to make necessary changes and improvements.  The critics have termed Mass Communication training programmes as ‘hog-wash’.

Teachers, professionals and policy makers do not work together toward making Mass Communication and Journalism education purposeful.  Therefore, showing concern to the improvement of qualitative learning methods becomes very essential in the present times.  Such deliberations and resolutions through programme of this kind would go a long way in facilitating qualitative learning methods in Mass Communication education.  In this age of competitiveness, earnest efforts should be made toward elevating learning methods.  Inter-disciplinary teaching, innovative multi-media programmes, collaborative exercises, training sessions in the media organizations, periodic practical assignments and university-industry collaboration would enrich Mass Communication teaching in this competitive times.  


Mass Communication and Journalism education in India has made considerable progress during the last three decades.  In reality, a majority of Mass Communication and Journalism departments are ill equipped in terms of manpower, equipments, literature and allied resources.  By and large, training in this sector is not imparted on the basis of sound vision, expertise, recognition and patronage.  In particular, the vernacular Mass Communication and Journalism education is absolutely unplanned and disorganized.  Keeping in view of the relevance of the present topic of national seminar and the imperativeness of enhancing qualitative learning methods, the following suggestions are made for consideration.  They include: 

  1. Mass Communication and Journalism education should be planned as an integrated development programme taking it to account the present trends like globalization, liberalization and privatization.  The changing media scenario should be properly understood by the policy makers and that factors like manpower, resources, technologies, equipments, literature, research and extensions should be taken into account while redesigning education system in general and enriching qualitative learning methods in particular.

  2. Standardization of Mass Communication and Journalism training should be ensured in order to make training in this sector absolutely result oriented.  A national level regulatory body consisting of policy makers, scholars, specialists, professionals and bureaucrats should be set up to streamline admission procedure, course contents, recruitment norms, training methods and evaluation techniques.  This body should be empowered to govern the process of Mass Communication and Journalism training in the country.

  3. The Departments of Mass Communication and Journalism should be equipped with the state of art facilities and competent manpower.

  4. The course contents should be modified in order to keep pace with changing needs of media industry in particular and national and international environment in general.  There should be meaningful combination of basic and applied Mass Communication and Journalism.  The ratio of theory and practice should be 25:75 in order to enable the students acquire necessary professional skill and competence.  There should be simultaneous teaching in the classroom and internship in the media organizations.

  5. There should be a regular scheme of special lectures to strengthen the process of training since all departments cannot afford to recruit and maintain large number of specialists as trainers.  UGC, Publications Division, National Book Trust, Research and Reference Division, Universities and other publishing houses should produce teaching materials which fit into national and regional contexts adequately.

  6. The teachers should also be trained very frequently in order to keep pace with the changing needs of media industry as well as teaching profession.  


Multi-ethnicity, multi-culture and multi-language are the hallmarks of India.  The dichotomy between rural and urban population has complicated the media scenario further.  Many courses are offered in Mass Communication and Journalism at different levels with different nomenclatures.  They range from certificates to doctoral programmes.  Though most of the institutions offer only English as the instructional medium, students can write examinations in the regional language.  Even doctoral research is encouraged in vernacular Mass Communication and Journalism.  The educational scenario depicts series of drawbacks with respect to qualitative learning methods.  Suitable networks have to be created at local, regional and national levels to facilitate integrated development of Mass Communication and Journalism education in India.  The Departments of Mass Communication and Journalism will have to devote their time, energy and resources in this direction.         

Dr Mahesh Chandra Guru is Professor & Chairman, Department of Communication and Journalism, University of Mysore. Madhura Veena M L is UGC Junior Research Fellow in the same department.

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