India's WMA Graduates Prepare for Work in Newsrooms of the Future

May 292012

I felt so proud the other night when an email landed in my Blackberry saying one of our students had been shortlisted for a competitive internship with one of India’s biggest production houses. Out of 10 interns, five have been offered full-time jobs and will get to work on a range of assignments – from National Geographic documentaries to reality TV series.

India’s media industry is expanding at a rapid pace and nothing gives me more pleasure than helping students from the World Media Academy Delhi find jobs. My goal as a Knight International Journalism Fellow is quite simple, really... to help train the next generation of Indian journalists with the best global industry practices, and then to get them working.

We do this well at WMA. In our 2012 graduating class, we have students working full time in staff positions at the Associated Press Television News, The New York Times, Salwan Media, France 24 and at a Cairo-based news site called Bikya Masr. One student tells me he is being courted by Al Arabiya, which is looking to expand its India coverage. And the young lady who has been shortlisted for the big production house has leads at Frontline PBS and Discovery Channel.

Finding a job in journalism is not easy anywhere in the world. From folks who graduate from Columbia University's prestigious J school in Manhattan to those who do so from WMA in New Delhi, journalists of the future are having to deal with shrinking news budgets.

What makes India different from the United States and most of Europe is the fact that there is still room for growth... especially when it comes to broadcast and digital television. Most newsrooms are beginning to upgrade their technology, streamline production and offer consumers online news and entertainment. This is a huge task and millions of dollars are being spent.

On the hiring side this presents a massive challenge of finding people with skills to work in the newsrooms of the future. WMA students are best placed to meet this demand. They shoot, edit on Final Cut Pro and know how to put together a story on deadline.

WMA's class of 2012 has just graduated. As my colleague Theo Yardley put it so well, WMA gave them direction and a sense of purpose. These young men and women are now multimedia journalists – looking for stories and for jobs.

During lunch, I noticed one of our students chatting with the chief graduation guest, CNN-IBN's senior editor and prime-time anchor Suhasini Haidar. The student was funded by a scholarship meant for an underprivileged Muslim woman. She is soft spoken, but knows what she wants...a job at the Hindi-language IBN 7. By the end of lunch she had an interview at the station.