A 100 years of media and journalism education bears the testimony of 10 decades of development in the channels of communication from folk, print to online media and these 100 years have created journalists, media persons, advertising experts among others who have shaped the dynamic demography of media today.
In the colonial era, a British socialist, theosophist, women’s rights activist, writer, and philanthropist Dr Annie Besant introduced journalism as a discipline in the country.
The history of journalism and media education accredits Dr Besant for having initiated the first journalism course at the National University at Adyar, Madras under the aegis of Theosophical Society, in 1920.
Initially, it was a bachelor’s degree under the Faculty of Arts in the Department of English with an added practical training to the students arranged in the office of ‘New India’, where Dr Besant paid special attention to professional journalism.
However, it did not last long.
Nearly a decade later in 1938, at Aligarh Muslim University, the journalism course was offered as a certificate course.
According to Prof Pradip Thomas, “at the private Bhavan Institute in the south Indian city of Kochi”, the Pro-Independence Congress Party established a school for Indian journalists who would aid the nationalist movement’s support for Home Rule.
Both initiatives offered opportunities for the training of indigenous journalists and contributed immensely towards the creation of professional, ‘native’ journalists, some of whom advocated for ‘Home Rule,’ ‘Independence’ and the ‘Freedom Struggle’.
However, in the early years of Independence, it was often a bachelor’s education in English literature that became the basis for employment in journalism rather than a professional degree in journalism.
The founding father of formal journalism education in India, Professor P P Singh who studied journalism at the University of Missouri, Columbia, USA established the first Journalism Department in Punjab University, Lahore in 1941.
Down South in independent India, the University of Madras started the first department of Journalism and Communication in 1947, which was one of the first journalism programmes in the Asian region.
The Department of Journalism and Mass Communication of Calcutta University, Kolkata claims to have been established in the year 1948 almost coinciding with that of Madras.
The Department of Journalism at the Maharaja’s College, Mysore started in 1951, offered journalism as one of the three optional subjects.
Very soon this subject attracted a large number of students and gained popularity.
Dr Nadig Krishna Murthy became the head of the department in 1953 and strove hard to build the newly established department for more than two decades.
Syed Iqbal Khadri joined Prof Nadig Krishna Murthy in 1959, as a lecturer.
The college was under the University of Mysore.
Years later in August 1972, the Department of Post-Graduate Studies and Research in Journalism was introduced.
However, the regular classes were formally inaugurated on September 20, 1972.
Thus, the University of Mysore left a milestone by introducing journalism as a subject of study at the post-graduate level offering master’s degree.
RashtrasantTukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University could well claim to have given a formal structure to mass communication education in India, for offering the first structured and well-planned journalism course post-independence.
It was to the credit of Hislop College, Nagpur and its then Principal, Dr D G Moses, who established a full-fledged Department of Journalism with the approval and encouragement of Nagpur University in 1952-53.
Prof K E Eapen was the first Indian scholar to be the head of the department.
The beginning was made with a diploma course in journalism, which was later elevated to the degree level in the mid-sixties.
The university’s Department of Journalism was set up as a unit of the Social Sciences faculty in July 1969.
S T Puranik was the first honorary head of the Department.
The Department was renamed as the Department of Mass Communication in 1989.
Simultaneously in the South, the Department of Communication & Journalism, University College of Arts & Social Sciences at Osmania University was started in 1954 by D’Forest O’Dell.
Osmania University upgraded journalism course to a bachelor degree course in 1962, which was considered as the first-degree course in journalism.
The Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) was set up in New Delhi, 1965 with support from UNESCO and the Ford Foundation, under the aegis of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Inaugurated on August 17, 1965, by the then Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Indira Gandhi, the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) started with a small staff, including two consultants from UNESCO.
Over the years, IIMC has expanded and offers post-graduate diploma courses setting a benchmark for professional training in journalism.
Moving on to Northeast India, the concept of media as an industry evoked the need for quality media and journalism education over the years.
Though perceived as a relatively contemporary phenomenon, it was an out of box foresight that led to the introduction of media education at Gauhati University in 1967, marking the beginning of media education in the Northeast.
The Department of Journalism and Mass Communication was established in 1973 in the Faculty of Arts at the Banaras Hindu University.
With the establishment of SITE and Kheda as important landmarks in the history of communications and communication-research in India, higher studies in mass-communication witnessed a profuse transformation in the course contents.
The UGC, therefore, constituted a Curriculum Development Committee in Mass-Communication to recast various programmes for Indian universities.
Prof M R Dua, the nodal member of the committee submitted the report alongwith a model curriculum in 2001.
The UNESCO also developed a model curriculum for journalism education.
In the country, currently, about 900 colleges and institutes offer mass-communication and journalism programmes in different levels, in which the maximum number of institutes are based in Delhi NCR counting nearly 150 institutes followed by Bengaluru and Kolkata as cities and Maharashtra as a state.
The institutes offer media and journalism courses in India can be categorized into three major types.
Firstly, the departments in universities and colleges.
The second category is the stand-alone institutes and the third category is the training institutes owned by different media houses.
With media being the fourth pillar of democracy, the demands for well-trained professionals and media experts have let to the growth of training grounds. While journalistic qualities are considered inherent, deep insight into media matters, ethics, and responsibility have been an outcome of the hundred years of media education in a country where the right information is crucial for its growth amidst diversity.
Dr Ankuran Dutta is an Associate Professor and the Head, Department of Communication & Journalism, Gauhati University. He’s also the Managing Trustee of Dr Anamika Ray Memorial Trust. His twitter handle is- @ankurandutta