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Media Education in Digital Age

Prof. Subhash Dhuliya

In the wake of the digital revolution, media education needs to be radically transformed. The traditional system is no more relevant to meet present-day demands and requirements. The biggest challenge before journalism and media schools is to stay abreast with the latest in a rapidly changing world.

At a time when information, data, and technology have acquired unprecedented dimensions and huge amount of information, misinformation and disinformation are available in the web domain. Developing intellectual and professional skills has acquired altogether new meaning so that students can acquire competence and decipher the hidden meaning of the media messages.  Developing critical thinking is also an area of focus so that the students are intellectually equipped to understand the complex world of information that has emerged and deeply influencing every sphere of human life. The first and foremost challenge in this context is to make students media literate.

Attention needs to be paid to develop a vision to impart knowledge to develop a strong theoretical foundation and then move to hands-on training to impart skills in simulated work conditions. Education, research, and training need to be combined to equip students with the competence to find a place in a huge media landscape that has emerged in the wake of the technological revolution. The objective should to create a balance between concepts and skills- a rational combination of knowledge and craft.

Creating new bridges between media education and the industry is a widely felt need. There is a lack of linkages between media education the media industry. Media academics are expected to play a role to monitor the media through research which is widely in existence in leading global journalism schools but not so in our country.

In a new kind of media, convergence is taking place which has changed the very nature of the work profile of the media professionals.  A media professional is expected to write articles, shoot photos and videos, and be versed with web tools. Imparting skills to produce multimedia packages is another stream that needs attention.

As a huge amount of information and knowledge is already available in the web domain, there is an urgent need to upgrade teaching training methodologies. The faculty needs to pull their best efforts to introduce innovations in their teaching and training methodology. The faculty needs to gear up to meet the challenges of this age of information in which data it reining supreme.

The information revolution has resulted in a massive expansion of media in general and the news and entertainment industry in particular. This has opened tremendous professional opportunities and the resultant need for trained human resources in the news and entertainment industry, academia, research, and development sectors.

Media education has largely been focused on the journalism component and most of the schools in the country have a nomenclature of “journalism and mass communication”. With the emergence of new entertainment platforms, there is a need to introduce programmes in entertainment arts. There is a huge demand for content in OTT platforms. The media education needs to address both the entire media industry-news and entertainment both.

The programmes being offered by media schools must focus on nurturing creativity. At a time when artificial intelligence is replacing so many jobs in different sectors, it’s creativity that matters a lot. Someone has said that “machine can never replace a human because the machine has a chip and human has a heart”. This is the essence of creativity. The future largely belongs to creative minds in all streams of media the way it is shaping and increasingly becoming technology-driven. The imperative need is to impart intellectual skills and nurture critical thinking otherwise there is a real dragnet to become computer controlled-robots.

In lieu of an epilogue

Humankind is entering into a new age that is very complex and its consequences are still shaping in the womb of the future. All developments indicate that we are heading towards a kind of digital dictatorship where few information giants will control the world. The future of liberal democracy is being debated hotly in the context of the power of information giants to influence people to vote in a particular direction.

A huge amount of data is being collected on each one us whenever we visit a website or use social media. Our political orientation, reading habits, consumption pattern, etc are analysed through algorithms and we can be influenced to behave in a particular way. The information giants have acquired immense power to play with our emotions virtually converting voting patterns in a liberal democracy to be governed by what people ‘feel’ rather than what they ‘think’.  Technologies advancing at a pace unheard of before but those who are inventing technology are not aware of its political, economic, social, and cultural implications. It falls in the domain of social sciences which needs to rise to the occasion and address the issues and generate a global wave of awakening.

The author is former Vice-Chancellor, Uttarakhand Open University, Professor of Journalism at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Indian Institute of Mass Communication ( IIMC), Central University of Rajasthan  and  Distinguished Professor & Dean, School of Creative Art, Design and Media Studies, Sharda University

Email: sdhuliya@gmail.com


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