Mr. V. Gangadhar is a veteran journalist in the field for well above 40 years, who started his career in the Indian Express as a trainee and then moving onto the Times of India and later to Outlook. Currently he freelances with ‘The Hindu’ and ‘The Hindustan Times’ in columns like the ‘Slice of life’. An avid cricket enthusiast and columnist, he is a teacher to 100’s of aspiring journalism students too for the past 10 years at Mumbai.
Q –What are the skills that an aspiring journalist should possess?
A –He/she should have a passionate interest in current affairs, good writing skills, preparation to read a lot and kind of an extrovert nature. The person should have ‘news sense’ and a curiosity about life. Except for the good writing skill, which has to be there from a very young age, every other quality can be developed. Though the bright young people of today are brighter than the youngsters of the previous generation, a disturbing trend is the mere academic focus, and education in journalism too being textbook oriented, whereas the real spotlight should be on the knowledge in current affairs, ability to interact and independence in thoughts above the academic results.
Q –What are the changes, advantages and disadvantages that you have witnessed in media in the last decade?
A –Journalism is becoming more personal and celebrity-oriented, with the tendency to sensationalize news and trivia getting the media highlight. The readers too are getting habituated to rush into conclusions minus the investigation. There is less of commitment too from the side of journalists. The advantage has been the advent of digital media and search engines, which give faster access to information thus broadening it. Still more of reliability to the Internet is turning a bane. Another positive factor in the pattern of change is the freedom of the press getting valued with the economic liberalization. Earlier even the number of pages and pricing were decided by the Government. Controls getting lesser has improved the quality. The present trends in the industry are more of opportunities, especially in the ever-expanding broadcast journalism and TV channels. The skill to make documentaries too will find favor.
Q –What do you feel about the ethical side of media?
A –It’s far too disturbing, with people writing whatever they want so as to sell space. TV media trying to cash in on anything with sting operations is another upsetting trend. The sting operations should pertain only for a good cause.
Q –As a teacher, how do you rate the quality of teaching and teachers alike?
A –There are less of male counterparts coming to the teaching segment which is a disturbing tendency. There has been erosion in teaching quality during the last decade. The students too aren’t aware of the importance of subjects as even an average student is badly informed of the current affairs.
Q –How do you find citizen journalism as a new trend?
A –Citizen journalists add impetus to news and in reporting crimes and social evils, because this is mostly an unbiased view. The world of freelancing is also a sticky wicket in the Indian press with pay packets getting delayed or not paid at all unless his/her name is already big in the annals.
Q –What do you think is the future of journalists?
A –The future journalist looks more respectable with glamour attached, unlike the past.
Q –Any myths you associate with media and journalism from a student’s perspective?
A –The myths associated like media is all about glamour remains; though the print media can’t match the glamour tag of the TV. I am sad that those passionate to be true journalists are finding it hard today, because of the professional blockages and internal politics that prohibit one from doing factual reporting. The ideology suffers and the person gets disillusioned, thus the mindset of “I will change the world” subsides.
Q –What about the upcoming educational institutes?
A –The smaller institutions need to get more importance for the betterment of the industry and professionals alike.
Q –What are the challenges faced by the newspaper industry?
A –Newspaper industry is competed by the TV, which for a viewer is exciting and more believable, but the viewer is always getting devoid of a news analysis via TV. The challenge in front a TV is its credibility. Most of the cases brought out end up in a lack of follow up and ultimately No-result.
Q –How good can the interaction of the educational institutions be with the media?
A –More internships and interaction between journalists and students in the college once in a while would be a good initiative. Still there is a huge vacuum in way of the placement systems in MMC courses in India.
Q –What do you say about the emerging trends in the field of Journalism?
A –My observation are more jobs in websites, industries bringing out their own journals like medical journals, technical journals etc.
Q –Any advice you would give to the present generation of students?
A –I request the present generation to ‘Read, read, read and read’ and then only can they write well by linking the ideas together.