Since 2000, IIJNM has made steady progress in offering an excellent journalism curriculum suited to the practice of the profession. With experienced faculty from India and abroad, media lab and state-of-the art TV and radio studios, students get the best there is to prepare for a good start in their new career. With the introduction of Multimedia Journalism program in 2009, we are at the cutting edge of technology and media practices.
As an independent institution not affiliated with or run by any one newspaper or media organization, we are able to maintain wider association within the industry. Having built up our reputation as one of the leading J-schools in South Asia, we are now ready to make further contributions to the profession. These developments reflect not only our commitment to a fair and independent media, but also the accomplishments of our faculty and past graduates.
This is a good time to remind us about our mission and what you are learning here. Journalism is a part of the liberal arts tradition. If you have come to IIJNM to discover yourself and to learn about others, and to tell through your work what you have learned, there is no better journalism school in India than this institution. The business of IIJNM is to broaden your horizon, to stimulate an inquiring mind to search and present the truth, and to give you the skills and tools to do all these.
And what are we trying to teach you at IIJNM?
First, the obvious. The craft of journalism - how to cover a story, be a good reporter, do the research properly, and write well. We also teach you to use the many tools of journalism such as the software applications, how to design and layout, work with images, edit, and so on. These are some of the essentials that you learn here. I don't need to elaborate on them, as you already know that they are important. What I want you to recognize is something more. We do not teach you "what to think," but "how to think and analyze." You must develop the skill of critical thought, and learn to examine different perspectives and ideas. In doing so, I hope you will not wear blinders, but turn your eyes to where they have never been before, and learn. As Confucius said, "He who learns but does not think is lost. And who thinks but does not learn is in great danger."
You must read, and re-read the great works of journalism and the great books that expand your horizon. Mix your mind with different ideas, opinions and thought. You must critically examine, develop your own thoughts, and not accept blindly what you have heard or read. Remember, a good mind is a well-trained one.
Great intellectual skill is to critically examine, to think, read, speak and write well - not just memorize -, and you must work hard to sharpen those skills. I cannot emphasize more the power of reading -- of liberating oneself from many set ideas and opinions that are born out of ignorance.
I hope you will examine some of the crucial questions of our time affecting our community, India and the world. The relevance of a liberal arts education is to examine unjust acts, wrong traditions and improper ways of life, so that you may find ways to set things right. You must also learn to appreciate the full breadth of individual freedom and expression, of equality, and human justice. You must grasp, embrace and move into the realm of right from wrong.
Learn to differentiate between just and unjust laws, between the use of power for good as opposed to evil and oppression, between transparent expressions of truth versus pronouncements for propaganda, between social justice and injustice, and between good and evil. As one of the recipients of the Excellence in International Journalism awards, Jose Ruben Zamora, remarked in his acceptance speech at Washington DC recently, "The main challenge of the independent media is to limit itself to telling the truth. To express things the way they are. From all possible angles and view points, with no hidden agenda. It sounds easy. But it is a difficult task." I hope you will develop the critical faculties for making those clear distinctions, from a moral base devoid of ignorance. I hope you will form your own values from what you consider as right, and not simply from what you have acquired elsewhere - at home, society, state, church, and temple -, and leave behind the burdens of your past and not be victimized by them.
Indian journalism is a vibrant profession, constantly striving to find its rightful place within a democracy in transition. The media is drawn in different directions between its role to inform the people, and its attempt to increase advertising revenues, readership and viewers at any cost. Have Indian journalists done a good job? There are many bright spots, especially in recent years, but the past has been mixed. For over 50 years after our independence, practically every journalist in India went along with the government's wisdom of a socialistic economic system to the detriment of three generations of Indians. Many argue that journalists are not adequately questioning the government’s economic program and foreign policy, and investigating corruptive practices and environmental issues. With increased concern on the part of citizens, we can hope that our media will challenge vigorously and constructively the wisdom and practices of our politicians and bureaucrats.
In conclusion, what are the vital characteristics needed of a great journalist? Needless to say, you must learn the skills to be a good reporter and writer. You must dig into the story, find the truth, and present your material eloquently and interestingly to the reader/viewer/listener. You must cultivate good working relationships with your sources and contacts, and never rely on the easy ones, such as politicians, who will rarely tell you what they don’t want the people to know. You must learn to develop a sense of urgency, manage your time well, and seize the moment. In doing all these, understand the issues that really matter to the people, cover them well, and stimulate a dialogue with and among your readers and viewers. Finally, you must not just be a journalist but something more than that -- a professional journalist with personal integrity.
At IIJNM, we strive to offer the best curriculum, and train you for a successful career in journalism. Judging from our past graduates, the media profession has already come to recognize the quality of our programs and the students. I hope you will commit yourself to excelling in this exciting career.
Abraham M. George, Dean
More about: Dr. Abraham M. George