Mr Vipin Pubby, Director, External Communications, Shoolini University, who also heads the Journalism and Mass Communication Department of the University, has a wide experience of 40 years in the field of Journalism. He is a former Resident Editor of The Indian Express. In an interview he spoke on various aspects of the field and University’s Journalism programme to VAISHNAVI SOOD. Here are excerpts from the interview:
Please tell me something about yourself and your professional background.
I am a practicing journalist with around 40 years of experience. I have covered all the major news hotspots in the country including the Northeast, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat and Punjab. Very few journalists get the opportunity to cover them all during their career. I have worked for around 36 years with The Indian Express. For around 18 years I was Resident Editor of the newspaper in Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat and Chandigarh.
After such an illustrious career, what prompted you to get into academics?
I had a good share of experience in journalism during my career but I was keen to give back to the society. Thus, post retirement I decided to join an academic institution and began to look out for the ones that were sincere and passionate about Education.
Shoolini seemed like just the right spot for mentoring young journalists. It is not a university which is being run for earning profits and the top management is passionate about quality education. They give a free hand to professionals like me to work and allow us to undertake various initiatives. I want to give the students more practical inputs and hands on experience rather than confining them to theoretical knowledge.
How has been your experience of working with Shoolini so far and how different was it for you to work with an academic institution?
It has been two years since I joined Shoolini University. I am thoroughly loving the experience and it is professionally satisfying when I receive appreciation for the various initiatives that I have taken.
What are some of the major things that are being done at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication?
A fortnightly Newsletter and Shoolini Campus Radio was started during the last two years to provide hands on training to the students. Shoolini Newsletter is being run majorly by the students of Journalism and Mass Communication while others are welcomed to contribute. Our major objective is that after completing their graduation, the students would be ready to join the industry as fullfledged journalists. Moreover, because of my long career in the media industry, I have personal connections across the spectrum so we shall guide and assist them in getting jobs in the medium of their own interest.
What are your future plans for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication?
We have already launched the in-house campus radio this year where the students are being taught to draft scripts and how to speak on air. Students from other departments also come in a big way to Shoolini Radio and present programmes as Radio Jockeys. We plan to later convert it into a community radio. We have also planned to start with our TV studio by the end of this month.
Further, the school is also planning to start a postgraduate diploma programme from the upcoming session and graduates from all the streams will be eligible to join the programme. It will include 11 months of training in the university and a month of internship with any of the media companies. It would be a comprehensive programme where students will be taught about various tools of Journalism from print and electronic media to the latest tools of digital media.
What do you think is the scope and job prospects in the field of Journalism?
The unregulated social media has led to a lot of fake news. Thus, objectivity in news is the need of future for which professionally trained journalists will be required who shall be better equipped to authenticate their stories. The current scenario also shows that the media houses cannot have a great shelf life if they start losing credibility as the viewers tend to get put off by their clear bias and lack of objectivity.
What are the changes and evolution of media industry in the last few decades?
I believe the biggest advantage for the new journalists is the availability of technology at such low costs and its accessibility to all. It has also brought in a lot of opportunities and has made their work a lot easier. In our times when I began, news gathering was one thing and its dissemination and filing stories from various regions of the country was yet another task but now the technology has immensely improved. This also entails that the competition in the media industry that they have to face is huge. Moreover, one also needs to be more responsible. I personally believe that RTI is probably the biggest tool in the hands of the journalists of today but unfortunately very few of them are utilizing it.
Why do you think Journalism aspirants from across country should join Shoolini and what makes the course offered here different than the curriculum of similar courses in other universities?
Being mentored by a practicing journalist and strong emphasis on practical journalism is something that makes the journalism programme of Shoolini University unique. Further, we also look from an industry perspective and try to guide them accordingly.
During my time as a resident editor and being in a hiring position for many years, I always felt that there is a huge disconnect between journalism schools and media houses. The journalism students that came for internship usually had a lot of theoretical knowledge but often had no clues about the practical aspects of journalism. Many of them were very poor in current affairs which are crucial for being a journalist.
Thus, at Shoolini we have tried to design the curriculum in a way that helps in the overall development of the students including current affairs.