Knight Fellow Jody McPhillips on Launching India Media Institute

Jul 232010

A quick note on how the opening of the International Media Institute went. In a word, great! All but one of our 30 students is in class, and the last is expected to arrive this week from Liberia. They have just plunged into things. It's a bright crew with lots of enthusiasm and they’re working together very well. I'm sure cracks will develop in this kumbaya picture over time but right now it's pretty impressive.

Adam Jadhav will teach photography this fall.

The school is an independent, multi-media training center that will give entry-level journalists the professional and technical skills to work across media platforms. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation have generously funded our institute.

Before we could even start recruiting students we had to do everything from building a facility to establishing a brand, no small task in the hyper-competitive Indian education market.

Three-quarters of the class are from outside of Delhi, and everybody has been settled in safe, affordable housing they like. Getting this done has meant quite a dance with local real estate brokers and landlords.

Three weeks in, the students are deep into Final Cut Pro and have learned the basics of interviewing, tried their hand at news writing, set up blogs, and have started shooting and editing videos with the Flipcams. Perhaps the most amazing achievement has been that virtually everybody has made it to class every day for our 8 a.m. start.  “They” said it couldn’t be done in India, where time is so elastic that news conferences routinely start 30 to 45 minutes late. “They” were wrong!

Really, the students are behaving like plants in the desert after the first rain. They are just sucking up all the information and experiences we can throw at them. We have to push them out at the end of the day. Already, the newsroom is open on Saturdays for those who want to come in and work. Eventually, we will open up the video lab on weekends as well.

I truly believe the results will be worth all our hard work.