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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

"There is no job like journalism" — Media Matters, my new fortnightly column in Dubai's Khaleej Times


The inaugural "Media Matters" column:

THERE IS NO JOB LIKE JOURNALISM

By Ramesh Prabhu

JOURNALISM is the world's best profession.

I believed that when I first became a trainee sub-editor in 1981.

I believed that when, after more than 20 years as a journalist in Mumbai, Dubai, and Bangalore, I was given a golden opportunity to give back to the profession as a journalism teacher at a media college in India’s Silicon Valley.

And I believe that even today as I revel in the joys of journalism when sharing my experiences with my students, year after glorious year.

Of course, I am not the first person to assert that journalism is the best job in the world. The credit for that goes to the late Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whose essay on the subject has been shared and re-shared multiple times on the Internet.

Nobel laureate Garcia Marquez, the author of the much-loved classics One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, knew what he was talking about. After all, he had got his start as a journalist in his native Colombia many years before anyone outside his home town had even heard of him. By 1997, when he wrote that illuminating essay, he had become a global phenomenon, but he did not forget his debt to journalism. Here is a telling excerpt from his final paragraph:

No one who does not have this in his blood can comprehend its magnetic hold…. No one who has not had this experience can begin to grasp the extraordinary excitement stirred by the news, the sheer elation created by the first fruits of an endeavour….

No one has put it better.

Today, I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to spend quality time with young media aspirants, many of whom have since forged successful careers in newspapers, television channels, and magazines, both in India and abroad.

I absolutely love what I do. Every year I now get to interact with — and learn from — a fresh batch of students. And I think I am a much better journalist today because my students keep me on my toes with their questions; in order to do a good job of the answers, I am constantly updating my knowledge base.

I also love books, music, films — in fact, almost every form of popular culture — and it’s fascinating for me to be able to discuss what I read, listen to, and watch with Gen Next.

I must add a few words here about how technology helps the faculty-student interaction. I use e-mail to send my course material in advance so that the students can prepare for debate and discussion in my class. I also alert them via e-mail to interesting articles and links. And I publish two blogs. One is The Commits Chronicle, which takes a close look at happenings in the college and on student activities. The second blog, The Reading Room, focuses on reading, writing, and journalism.

Facebook is a big help too — I use it as a distance education tool and my status messages are mostly about something important in the books I have read and on news articles that I want future journalists to read. And I upload pictures that my students may find interesting; of course, I write an appropriate caption for every photograph because caption-writing is a skill which I aim to teach in class as part of the journalism course.

Facebook has other productive uses, too: when I took part in a charity run in Bangalore (four times so far) to raise funds for an NGO that works with underprivileged children, I used my status messages as regular event alerts in the hope that at the right time in their lives my students will give serious thought to helping disadvantaged communities.

All this is by way of introducing myself and this new fortnightly column on the joys of journalism. In the coming weeks and months, with the help of “Media Matters,” I hope to enthuse my readers into taking up journalism as a career. Why? Because it is the best job in the world.

THINK ABOUT IT: "Four hostile newspapers are to be feared more than a thousand bayonets" – Napoleon Bonaparte

·    Ramesh Prabhu is professor of journalism at Commits Institute of Journalism & Mass Communication, Bangalore. Commits offers a full-time two-year MA degree course.
·    “Media Matters” welcomes questions from readers who would like to know more about careers in journalism. Please send in your queries to rd.prabhu@gmail.com.

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