New School Brings Global Perspective to India's Media Education: World Media Academy to Prepare Students for TV, Print and Digital Reporting

Jun 292011

India is one of the world's most dynamic economies, and media are an important part of its rapidly changing scene. Hundreds of new television stations are being licensed, magazines abound and newspaper circulation still posts healthy gains.

To keep pace, journalism education also has to be nimble. So shortly after graduating its first class of 28 students, an ICFJ-managed journalism-training project in New Delhi is significantly expanding its activities. In partnership with Greycells Education, a Mumbai-based education company, the program has added television to its curriculum. And it is moving from the Delhi suburb of Noida to the heart of the capital city itself. The new facility will boast a full, professional television studio and lots of space for expansion.

The World Media Academy - Delhi will prepare tomorrow's journalists in India and the region for a world of converging media. "Television reporters will have to write print stories, at least for the web, and newspaper reporters will have to shoot video and do stand-ups and televised reports," says Sharon Moshavi, ICFJ's Vice President for New Initiatives. "And both will have to be comfortable in the digital world of web-based journalism and hyperactive social media."

The changes come with the arrival of two new Knight International Journalism Fellows – Todd Baer, an award-winning correspondent for Al Jazeera English and CNN, and Chris Conte, a former editor and correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. They took the reins this year following the successful fellowships of Dave Bloss and Jody McPhillips, who trained students and oversaw their internships at such organizations as The Washington Post, CNN-IBN, Aaj Tak TV, the Hindustan Times and others. The graduates of the program have gone on to work at organizations such as Mint newspaper, Al Jazeera English, Haryana News and ABC Australia.

Conte and Baer will divide students into separate television and print tracks, but all students will cross-train to get experience in digital media throughout the 11-month, post-graduate diploma program.

Keeping with the school's commitment to give students hands-on experiences, the two Knight Fellows will stress practical experience over classroom learning. After receiving basic training, the television students will organize themselves as a working television newsroom; that will be easy to accomplish since the school will be occupying space that once was a working television station, complete with a fully equipped television studio. Print students, meanwhile, will begin serving long-term apprenticeships at a variety of news organizations; in effect, they will become working journalists under the watchful eye of school faculty and host-institution mentors. And they will leave their “jobs” from time to time for additional classroom work.

"I think of it as 'convergence within a medium,'" Baer says. "With India's media still growing rapidly and making healthy profits, they aren't really ready for full convergence. But they definitely see a need for journalists with a wider range of technical skills. By starting now, they should be more ready than American media were when full convergence comes."

That's not all. Conte also will organize workshops and short courses to bring the school’s students together with working journalists. These will range from sessions on pressing social issues like rural development, conflict, urban problems, health, sanitation and hunger, to targeted skills training on everything from feature writing to media management. Baer will also use his experience as a reporter covering conflict in such places as Kashmir and Gaza to teach a course on reporting in hostile environments.

"While journalists today need a broader range of skills than they did in the past, it is more important than ever that they understand and be able to explain complex social, economic and scientific issues," Conte explains. "In a world where technology enables anyone to become a journalist, professional journalists will have to be distinguished by their ability to make sense of news, not just their skill in finding and broadcasting it."

To find out how to apply, contact: learnjournalism@gmail.com or call +91-99-7149-8348. Visit WMA's website at www.worldmediaacademy.com.