Journalism school prepares students in India for digital future

byDana Liebelson
Apr 25, 2011 in Journalism Basics

A new multimedia school in India equips aspiring journalists with the digital tools they need to succeed internationally.

The International Multimedia Institute of India (IMII), launched in the summer of 2010, offers an 11-month digital media program in Noida, India. The school is run by the International Center for Journalists and its Indian partner, the Society for Policy Studies. The program, which costs 125,000 rupees (about US$2,800), is currently accepting applications for the 2011-2012 post-graduate diploma in journalism and a new TV course.

The school’s first class will graduate next month. Students come from a diverse set of countries and economic and religious backgrounds, but will enter the workforce with an international education in multimedia.

IJNet spoke with Todd Baer, academic advisor for the Institute about the program and the importance of cross-platform training. Baer previously worked as a correspondent for Al Jazeera English where he reported from across India.

IJNet: How is the IMII funded?

Todd Baer: Funding for the project came from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Knight Fellows played an integral part in getting the school off the ground. The Institute was opened by Knight Fellows David Bloss and Jody McPhillips.

IJNet: What's the mission of the institute?

TB: With India’s place in the world developing rapidly, the IMII aims to help Indian journalists in print and television reach an international standard in terms of ethics, story selection, storytelling and production.

The IMII also aims to give aspiring journalists the multimedia tools they will need in the future. We teach print reporters how to work with video and video journalists how to write for print.

IJNet: Why does the IMII focus on cross-platform training?

TB: The business of gathering and presenting or distributing news and information is changing because of new technology, new distribution points like web and mobile, and different reader and viewer behavior.

As a result we know the journalist of tomorrow will have to be digitally savvy. At the moment, India has a thriving newspaper market, but as mobile web access becomes more widely available, it is reasonable to conclude that more and more Indians will do what the rest of the world does and consume digital news.

The people with the most diverse skill set will be more employable than others.

IJNet: What challenges have you had instituting a multimedia program?

TB: Teaching multimedia is enormously challenging because you are asking someone to be good at everything. In some cases the biggest challenge we have faced is that our students are able to grasp a little bit of everything, but in the end, they are not experts in any specific area. We want our students to have a bread-and-butter skill set in one medium and have a good understanding of the other.

The other challenge we have in trying to teach is the language barrier. We are teaching in English, sometimes through an interpreter because most of our students are fluent in Hindi, Gujarati, or Bengali. Their English is good, but in some cases it is not good enough to understand all of the information we are trying to teach

IJNet: Do you offer scholarships?

TB: We offer two scholarships: The first is for a Muslim woman and is provided by Dr. Najma Sultana, an Indian-American from New York.

The other scholarship is for a student from a tribal area and is provided by former Knight International Fellow, Arul Lewis.

IJNet: Can you tell me about this year’s first graduating class?

TB: Graduation is three weeks away, but we have already placed a handful of students in good entry-level jobs. One of our graduates will work as a producer for Russia Today-TV; another student will work at newspaper Mint. There are many other offers coming in for our graduates.

The response has been positive from people I have spoken with. Most people agree there is a need for high quality training and the IMII is serving this need.

Photo by Internews Network, used with a CC-license