Mass communications now offers a wide arena for students wishing to pursue a career in this field. In the recent past, job opportunities came in the form of a few government posts in the public relations department of some companies, or in Doordarshan and All India Radio. Once these posts had been filled, students were left with very few options. Now however, the situation is completely reversed, and media organizations often do not find enough mass communication students to fill their vacancies.
The first Journalism course in India was started in 1920 at the university at Adyar, near Madras, through the selfless efforts of Dr. Annie Besant, the pioneer of the Home Rule movement. Journalism came under the aegis of the English department in the faculty of arts. After Independence, several universities adopted the subject as an important course for the media, the fourth estate of democracy. Now there are more than 100 universities and other institutions imparting education in journalism and mass communication, both at graduate and post graduate level.
However, most students are not aware of the opportunities available in this field, and it is essential to point out the areas in which careers can be started. Since journalism can also be included under mass communication, the term 'Journalism' is not used separately.
The Academic Field
Teaching is not only an essential profession, it also serves an important function as teachers help groom a student into a professional. After successful completion of their course, students can opt for the academic field and join different colleges, universities and institutions (both government and private) as lecturers; They have several teaching options in journalism, mass communication, advertising, public relations, study of communication skills, communicative English, business communication, or as media instructors. This is a field that allows for professional growth, from a first appointment as a lecturer, to an assistant professor, reader, associate professor, professor or, in due course of time, director of an institution. To ensure this, students need to have not only a good career track record; they should be good communicators in the language they choose to teach in, as a direct relationship with the students is required. There are also opportunities for other academic assignments as research scholars, media advisors or academic consultant
The Non-academic field
This is the most attractive area of mass communication, otherwise called the professional field. It is challenging, as it deals with competition among the media organizations. There can be a dearth of opportunities in this field since almost all media organizations are private in operation. The field can be divided into many sub-fields which are given below.
Print media is the oldest form of mass medium. Journalism started in 1780 when James Augustus Hickey began his newspaper, 'The Bengal Gazette" from Calcutta. The next 200 years saw the rise of a number of prominent journalists who left their mark in the development of the nation. Today there are vast opportunities in the field as the number and circulation of newspapers are growing day by day. With the advent of new media technology, the demand for newspapers and magazines has doubled. In the print media, students can join in newspapers, magazines and other periodicals. Journalists are of two types: reporters, correspondent or stringer on the one hand, or working at the desk on the other. The former is an out-of-office job, and more challenging. The reporter has to be very accurate in collecting news. Desk jobs include news-editors, sub-editors and editors for different specializations like politics, economics, crime, science, ecology, sports, culture. Hence, to become a sub-editor a degree in mass communication is essential.
Prospects of jobs in magazines and periodicals are also bright. Mass communication students can contribute better according to their specialization, as magazines are generally specialized in character.
The Electronic Media
The electronic media consists of radio, television and films. Radio, being government controlled, was not in demand as a career choice till the opening of the FM channels. Before that there were vacancies in different categories as newsreaders, script writers, reporters or news editors. But as government jobs are limited, opportunities were limited to some part time jobs. Since 2003, with the opening of FM channels, the demand for radio is also growing. Students can opt for careers as RJ (Radio jockey, script writers or bit writers
The most sought after profession in mass communication is in television. It is the most glittering media which offers a journalist extensive exposure (being an audiovisual media), with additional practical benefits of a sound pay package and a stable future. With the emergence of 24-hour news channels, and local TV channels the demand for television journalists has quadrupled. In this field the reporter's job is the most challenging and much in demand, because of visibility wide recognition. Further, newsreaders are also needed from journalism background, as they can choose the news value. Additional careers in television journalism include script writing, production executive responsibilities, camera crew, video editing, montage production , video mixing, videography. An experienced journalist could even start a local cable TV channel which could prove to be lucrative.
Films in India enjoy a huge popularity. Bollywood is the second busiest film industry on the globe, after Hollywood. State film industries are also running well. Though the industry is so rich, the people behind the screens remain unnoticed. Yet, mass communication students taking special courses can also move into this wide and varied field as producers, directors, script writers, video-editors, cinematographers, animators.
Advertisements have become an integral part of television viewing. Viewers may like some ads very much, and reject some. Some advertisement slogans or catchwords become popular expressions: "Thanda Matlab Cocacola" , "Yeh Dil Maange More", "Zid karo Duniya Badlo", Yeh Apun ka choice ka maamla hai". The public also enjoys ads in newspapers, glossy magazines, on the radio, splashed across billboards, neon boards, merchandizing boards. Though the popular jingles slip easily off our tongues, they do not reveal the amount of labour behind the conception of each one of them. An effort that is rewarded when the composer witnesses the nation singing his compositions. In advertising, careers can begin from an executive or script writer and lead to rising to advertising manager or CEO of an ad agency. It is the most dynamic profession, because the constant demands of the public need to be met with something that is always new and refreshing.
This is the only field where opportunities are plenty in both the government, as well as the private sector. There is stability in the government sector, with employment assured without the need for the stresses associated with a private sector job. If a student becomes part of the IIS ( Indian Information Service), he can work for the development of the nation by joining the Press Information Bureau (PIB), Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP), Dept. of Information & Public Relations in each state at district levels (DPROs), or work at various government departments.
The most sought-after job in Public Relations is in the public sectors (particularly in Nav-Ratna Categorised Companies); one can join as a management trainee (MT) at the primary level, and go on to become public relation manager after completing the probation period. Students need to have a good career record and should have at least a first class degree at PG (post-graduate) level. Other opportunities are as PRO in government departments like Indian Railways, Roadways, Defence Service, as also in private offices, organizations, NGOs, political parties( media adviser to parties, ministers and prominent leaders), and films.
New media Internet journalism, on-line journalism or cyber journalism is a twenty-first century phenomena that includes news and non-news portals. The former need content writers (the online sub-editors) and content developers; the non-news portals also need content writes, developers and web-page designers, who prepare the complete layout of the portals. Further, internet advertising is also another demanding aspect of online services. So, advertising managers and creative writers are in constant demand.
These are the important fields of journalism and mass communication. Apart from the above the students can start their own newspapers, FM radio channels, TV channels, Ad agencies, PR Consultancy service, Website portals and similar media related assignments. The non government organizations (NGOs) which indulge in social service activities also need media professionals for their activities.
With so may varied opportunities, students selecting a course of study in mass communications need not be skeptical about their future. Their future is bright, provided they believe in themselves.