Interview Panel: Shabbir Sarwar, Ali Arshad & Raheel Anwar
Lahore College for Women University Mass Communication Department Chairperson Dr. Anjum Zia said that most of the existing media personnel do not have degrees in mass communication and are in dominant positions. A change can be implemented if media degree holders with knowledge of media ethics are leading in the market but, of course, it can take time and we can’t say that media graduates are not required; in fact, they are more advantageous to diminish the gap.
Last decade has led immense growth in mass media outlets; consequently, all educational institutions have offered varied degrees in media studies with different names regardless of the fact that they have facilities or not. Although ‘media studies’ is a professional discipline which requires a dedicated faculty and an advance technological setup yet institutions seem not very much concerned about it.
Is their product i.e. graduates are capable to be absorbed in media market? Here is an example of Lahore College for Women and University. I have been supervising LCU’s Mass Communication Department for many years. I have always focused on two aspects while supervising it; the first one is growth of media in Pakistan especially electronic media and second is how innovations in technology are affecting this field. So, I have established labs with latest equipment enabling our graduates to understand the entire process of production during their projects. This is why our ‘experienced graduates’ are easily absorbed in the market.
Mostly parents of female students are anxious about their marriages rather than representing their educational qualities and capabilities via jobs. Our students, after completing their internship received a comparatively positive response from different media outlets. LCWU’s students have a grip on practical work with clarity of concepts. I think, if we train our students keeping market requirements in view, it is impossible that they do not adjust in the market. It is right to balance both sides but I don’t think there is a saturation point. If media industry is explored, the majority of media personnel have degrees in disciplines other than mass communication. Our graduates are much better having immense knowledge about journalism.
Q: As PEMRA is too much concerned about media ethics and Govt. information ministry also held forums on ethics, so how media ethics can be implemented?
Dr. Anjum Zia: Media ethics can easily be implemented through media students as they are familiar with those ethics. Mostly existing media personnel do not have degrees in mass communication and are in dominant positions. A change can be implemented if media degree holders with knowledge of media ethics are leading in the market but, of course, it can take time and we can’t say that media graduates are not required; in fact, they are more advantageous to diminish the gap.
Q: MBBS is necessary for doctors and same is the case with engineering but there is penetration in journalism from all walks of life. What do you say if there are some rules to stop this extra penetration?
Dr. Anjum Zia: I think there must be some recognized monitoring councils (press councils) in journalism like other disciplines. In the absence of media councils, Pakistani media is functioning as a business entity and not following ethics and rules. As electronic media is quite vibrant, there must be an operational individual independent body representing all fields of life, without any interference from PEMRA or government to regulate media’s performances. Its major function should be issuing licenses to institutions whether they have facilities to produce graduates meeting market requirements and secondly it should control media. Although, PEMRA exists but it is not an independent entity and falls under the supervision of information ministry.
On the other side, I observed, it is not necessary that job is the only purpose of media study. It also provides life skills and training for ourselves to monitor media. Now media is an important part of our life so media literacy should be increased for its better functioning and, as a result, it will also literate our audience about media operations.
The Educationist: When a student approaches media market for job after completing his/her degree, he/she is always asked about experience. So, what is the role of time period spent in degree study?
Dr. Anjum Zia: Media studies is such a course, if we talk about experience, it depends on which institution you have completed your degree at? For example, we don’t offer any course without practice. If you are studying reporting you have to prepare at least twenty reports, for editing course you will have some editing assignments. Similarly, radio and TV labs also facilitate them for radio and TV productions, i.e. programs, news bulletins, documentaries, short films, advertisements or public service message etc., which ultimately increase their confidence and organize their profiles. Hence, this practical approach would be considered as their experience that’s why our students are being settled in media market without any difficulty.