In the digital age, the principles of media education are the same as they’ve always been, but the existence of cyberspace is adding new and challenging questions. Media education encourages an approach that is always probing, posing questions such as: Who is the audience of a media production and why? From whose perspective is a story being told? How do the unique elements and codes of a specific genre affect what we see, hear or read? How might different audiences interpret the same media production?
Prof. Ujjwal K. Chowdhury, School Head, School Of Media at Pearl Academy, reiterates some of the major questions that’ll help media aspirants understand the subject from an experienced and clearer perspective.
Q. There are many institutes imparting media education and yet the industry says that they don’t get the right talent. Where is the mismatch?
Media and entertainment industry, according to FICCI Frames report of 2018, has crossed 1.5 lacs crores (almost 23 billion dollars) turnover engaging nearly 18 lacs of people today. There is 9% new talent acquisition and 13% year on year growth in this sector, whereas the economy overall is growing at around 7%. However, if we go into the segments of media and communication, print media, radio, television: the three mainstay of mass communication, are all below 10% per annum growth. However, film, animation, events and digital have grown the most, with digital media taking the cake at 27% growth over just 2017. However, entire media education, or a huge part of it, in India, is focused on siloistic education or either journalism or branding or entertainment and focusing more on traditional mass media. Further, media education in general in India is exam-driven, theory-heavy and value-laden.
Q. What should be the right approach then?
First, futuristic media education has to be digitally driven. So, whether journalism or entertainment or brand communication, their practice in new digital media must be the focus. Second, evaluation should not be done primarily through semester end written exams, but through outcomes, ideally with a client for each outcome. These outcomes will be related to each module. Like a film-making module leading to the making of a documentary or a short film with a market or an user of it. A public relations module should lead to a PR campaign for a cause or a commodity with a real client. Third, learning of media and communication should not be siloistic, but convergent, as in medical science. In medical education, a student first learns entire anatomy or physiology, and then becomes expert of either bones (orthopaedic), or children’s diseases (paeditrician), or of women (gyaenacologist) or of Ear-Nose-Throat (ENT), etc. Hence, first a media learner should learn all media vehicles (online, offline, on air, on ground and on mobile) and all communication functions (to educate, entertain, inform, info-tain, engage, persuade, etc). Thereafter, should specialize in either journalism (multi-media) or entertainment (either through television or features films or web entertainment), or brand communication (of any variety: advertising and public relations or events etc).
Q. How much qualification matters in media careers?
Qualification is an added advantage and not the compulsory ingredient to be a communicator (as in medical profession or law). In today’s day and age, an industry oriented qualification is must. Added to that can be a formal degree, and if possible a foreign degree. We are happy to bring all the three in Pearl Media School.
Q. How much should the industry be involved in media education?
Very much and herein lies another major weakness of the dominant practice of media education in India. Industry should be involved with stalwarts as advisers, many others as adjunct and visiting professors, some modules being delivered directly by a media company as the iconic partner, each module having an outcome which is aided by some media company, every year leading to an internship, and finally entire education leading to either a global higher education or a direct full time employment in a media or communication or corporate organization depending upon the specialization area of the learner.
Q. Pearl Media School is the youngest and the brand is known for expertise in fashion and design. How do you plan to make yourself known to the media aspiring youth of India?
Pearl Academy has an established positioning in the creative education space and it is a natural extension of the brand to be venturing into a media college. It is far easier than say an engineering driven university getting into media education just to increase their portfolio. Second, Pearl media campuses are located in the heart of Mumbai (at Marol Naka) and Delhi (at Rajouri Garden-Naraina), the two cities which together account for around 62% of the total media economy of India. Third, I head the School with the background of being Dean or Director of four leading media schools of India (Symbiosis, Amity, NSHM Media and Whistling Woods), and we have 14 full time faculty with good industry and academic backgrounds, 22 visiting faculty from the industry, and 17 stalwarts of media as advisers and adjunct professors. Finally, both our campuses have superb infra-structure as fashion communication was being taught successfully for a long time now at Pearl.
Q. What courses are being started at Pearl in Media & Communication?
At the under-graduate level, we are starting 3-years Bachelor’s level courses in two pathways: Journalism and Entertainment. At the post-graduate level, we are starting 2-years Master’s level courses in three pathways: Journalism, Entertainment and Brand Communication. If someone has already done a Bachelor’s degree in media and communication domain, s/he can take admission directly into the second year of our Masters (hence one year of course at PG level for them).
Prof. Ujjwal K. Chowdhury
School Head, School of Media, Pearl Academy,
Delhi & Mumbai
As first appeared on HTEducation.