DUB Speak

Here’s why standardising Journalism syllabus might not be the best idea

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One does not need to be a journalism student to know that the media is referred to as the fourth estate, and that its purpose is to serve the greater good while remaining free from state control. As students of journalism, we are taught through theories and instances, that surveillance and control are dangerous and that one must always be wary of them.

So, when the Modi government recently decided to ‘standardise’ the journalism syllabus across all media schools with the purpose of teaching prospective journalists to ‘serve the nation’, we were left more than a little anxious. The Centre also plans to set up a new Communications University.

Media schools teach their students reporting and editing for the technicalities of the job, they teach media and culture to foster an understanding of the media as part of a larger cultural public sphere and they also teach ethics. The syllabus for these papers is set by the respective universities to whom the schools or faculties belong. The syllabus is currently set by professors drawn from industry and academia. While one cannot say with surety that the syllabi for different courses are set independently (the banning of A Hundred Ramayanas in Delhi University proves otherwise), we do know that there is no outright external control.

The government has supported its case by taking the examples of the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). The MCI accredits medical colleges and sees to the advancement of medical education in the country, the AICTE plans and coordinates the technical education. Yes, they also oversee the syllabi. The difference- medicine and engineering are standardized scientific fields, media a liberal art.

How does one regulate the syllabus for an institution like the Film & Television Institute of India? Will politically charged documentaries become a thing of the past? Will we never learn to question and digress?

And how does the government decide what serving the nation means? Documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan has always invited the government’s ire, yet his films are amongst the most critically acclaimed. Perhaps, his films fall under our concept of serving the nation. Can the government’s proposal accommodate such contradicting opinions?

Let us see beyond the façade of the holier than the phrase of ‘serving the nation’, let us look at this as an attempt to control the freedom of speech and expression.

Featured image credit: newsfirst.lk

[email protected]; Alankrita is a student of Journalism at Lady Shri Ram College for Women. Technology is one thing that terrifies her and at the helm of a good old newspaper is where she hopes to be one day. Reading, writing and holidaying (not necessarily in that order) are her favourite things to do. If not a journalist, she would be a politician, as goes the trend.

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