Journalist's ParadiseJournalist's Paradise

..::The Challenge::..

The journalism education curriculum, it is believed, is in tune with the emerging demands of Nepalese media profession that is facing new challenges of newly restored multiparty democracy. However shortcomings in administration and management of the University system as a whole, the lack of financial resources, and politicization of the academic environment have immensely hampered efficient and effective implementation of the University curriculum. The Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, being located at the Ratna Rajya Laxmi Campus, is more vulnerable to undesirable political activities in the metropolitan city of Kathmandu. The course works are thus often hampered. It is therefore too much to expect from the ideal journalism curriculum, despite the fact that it is conceived and designed keeping in view the challenges of the 21st century.

Some of the glaring examples of unhealthy effects of foul education environment in the country in respect of journalism education are:

The internships and the existing lab facilities do exist in the Department but these are far inadequate for such a course. The condition of shortcoming has adversely affected the teaching schedules and as a result the Department has not been able to focus as much as it would have liked on the practical classes.

The lack of financial resources on the other hand has always stood in the way of effective practical works. There are no facilities for practical works as prescribed for the students of electronic media.

Public Relations and Advertising syllabus has not been practically meaningful and relevant for the students. Professionally successful public relations and advertising organization outfits are highly reluctant to provide practical training to the University students, as they appear to be too pre-occupied with their business priorities.

The Department is ill equipped to provide practical works for the students of photojournalism. However, it has managed to coordinate with professional photo studios and photographers to make the students accessible to photo-lab experiences and to learn news photography with professional photojournalist. This, however, costs money. So far the Department has been able to get access to a very modest lab tuition fee; but that is not enough for quality photojournalism training.

The opportunities for practical journalism works in the realistic electronic media situation are rare because the electronic media worthy of practical works are by and large state-owned and they have their own rules to go by and own limitations and shortcomings to be able to accommodate trainees from the University. FM stations are coming up and, in the process; they are expected to provide practical training opportunities for the University students.

The financial constraints of the Department would be eased a little if the overall policy of the government in respect of journalism and mass communication is reoriented keeping in view the new perspectives in the political and socio-economic horizon of Nepal.

The national policy on journalism and mass communication education should be formulated on the premise that this education is a continuing process, which has two phases, namely, the pre-entry phase and the post-entry phase. The first phase begins in the secondary school and ends at the university departments or institutes; the second phase begins with practice of media profession and continues throughout the practice. Each phase has both formal and non-formal components. The success of national media policy is measured in development of harmonious, healthy and sustainable growth of media manpower and the profession. Such a policy is, it is believed, will prove beneficial in many ways. For instance, the media profession's commitment towards raising the standard of journalism education may become meaningful; experienced media professions could share their practical experience and knowledge to enrich students with the development of quality education the prospects of employment for journalism graduates may increase, this may, in turn, enhance the performance of the media.

For a genuine democracy quackery in mass communication will spell disaster particularly in developing countries where poverty and ignorance rule supreme.

The growth in demand for journalism education is seen in any country as a positive symptom of vibrant and sustainable democracy. But in Nepal the phenomenal rise in enrollment in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication does not warrant such a conclusion inasmuch as this apparent numerical increase is no less a result of the faulty process of admission, the system of choices available to the applicants and the manipulation of Entrance Tests. Moreover, the Department is the only on in the country which enrolls journalism students for PCL through Bachelors level courses. Where as in the University Department of Journalism more than 200 are enrolled at PCL Level.

There is a veritable need of journalism and mass communication education and training in the country. The University must realize that if it fails to provide quality education in journalism and mass communication, then it would have failed democracy, for, in the ultimate analysis, it is the majority of ill-informed misguided, ill-tempered and, therefore, uneducated populace that will serve the purposes of representative democracy. Where this type of populace will lead to, if not to a disaster?