Experts highlight on revising journalism curricula


KATHMANDU/Sagarika Tewari: Speakers of the webinar on ‘Journalism and Media Education in Nepal’ highlighted on revising and improving the curriculum of journalism and media studies towards a more practical and skill oriented direction. They have also sought for the need of collaboration between media organizations and academics.

Laxman Datt Pant, Chairperson of Media Action Nepal, who also leads WCC, Nepal Chapter pointed out the lack of collaboration between media houses and universities in Nepal which makes finding work and internships difficult for students. “The current economic downfall due to COVID19 has posed journalists with a number of threats, some have lost jobs, and some have not been paid for months. This has given rise to a sense of insecurity among students and has demotivated them to pursue their careers in the field of media and journalism,” Pant added.

Looking at the present state of media education in Nepal, Dr. Kundan Aryal of Central Department of Journalism and Mass Communication of Tribhuwan University said that media education has been around in Nepal for over forty years and yet the vast nature of human communication remains belittled. “Different fields of professional communication such as public relations, business communication, advertisements and so forth are all encompassed under the term ‘media’ which makes the actual curriculum in media colleges vague; it is high time to focus on compartmentalizing issues and to prioritize communications”, Aryal recommended. Ghamraj Luitel, media educator talked about the differences in the newsroom and classroom environments and how there’s a growing demand of various specific skills in the media industry and that the curriculum of colleges need to have more specialized fields and subjects. He also highlighted that the current pandemic has and will further change ways and style of journalistic work around the globe. Dr. Aryal reminded of the vast nature of the media and communication field and ensured that the future of journalism and mass communication is positive and ever-more expanding.

Shruti Shrestha, lecturer of photojournalism at Kantipur City College spoke of more specific issues such as time management and said “The credit hours mentioned in the curriculum of media colleges to teach everything right from the basics to the more complex and thorough subjects, are adequate.” She also shared concern over inadequate equipment in colleges as compared with the number of students and stated that even though the curriculum calls for some practical knowledge and training, implementation of the curriculum is weak. Trishna Acharya, Head of the Department of Mass communication at Divyabhumi Multiple College, highlighted that there is a heightened demand of professional communicators which is going unmet. She stressed on the need to include more of practical subjects and assignments in curricula. Talking about the significance of students’ educational background she said, “The syndicate of media background has been broken down in higher levels of media education; hence imparting practical knowledge has become substantial.” Junarbabu Basnet, Chief reporter at Gorkhapatra daily and media educator stated that students struggle too much in college and to find work and are rewarded with comparatively low wages in return. They need more training programs to make it easier for them to survive and thrive in professional workspaces. “There is an immediate need for research funding from and collaboration with media organizations,” Basnet added.

Being an interactive session, the audience posed a few questions in between. Madhu Dawadi, from Chitwan asked whether a journalistic license is necessary for becoming a journalist. Panelist Luitel answered by stating the significance of a journalistic license and argued that it is legally required to ensure safety and convenience of journalists on field. He also pointed out that in modern times a license is important to regulate ethical and professional behavior in journalists and should not be seen as a means of state control.

The session concluded with another query from Pinkey Rana who asked about the importance of news media literacy in consuming media content. Mr. Pant answered by stating “media literacy is highly important for people to ensure better observation and clearer interpretation of news.” He stated that this can be achieved by discussing basic laws, regulations and rights related to journalism in schools and colleges and that it is viable in this interactive and globalized era.

The webinar organized on Wednesday by World Communicators’ Council (WCC), Nepal Chapter was moderated by Arati Shilpakar, Treasurer of WCC, Nepal. The webinar saw a total of 34 participants that included media researchers/teachers, journalists and media students from Nepal and India.

(Tewari is ‘programme & communications assistant’ at Media Action Nepal)