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Power of pen

education Updated: Nov 03, 2011 17:14 IST

Hindustan Times
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The lowdown
Coined in 1968 at a Press Foundation of Asia conference in the Philippines, the term development journalism highlights the catalytic role played by the press in the socio-economic development of any country. Development journalism covers both urban and rural poverty, the environment, agriculture, health and sanitation, gender issues, infrastructure, road safety, education, innovation, human rights, etc. Journalists are required to produce well-researched, fact-based articles which highlight the plight of people, communities or the society in general. They will be required to travel a lot and live in underdeveloped areas

Clock Work
The average day of a budding development journalist at an investigative news magazine:
8.30am: Call up contacts and fix appointments
9.30am: Out, meeting sources
11.30am: Attest statements
1.30pm: Lunch
3pm: Meet a government official for a report
6pm: Back to office. Write story, organise pictures, and supplementary elements for the story
8pm: Meet contacts over dinner
9.30pm: Back home

The payoff
Initially, the pay package is about Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 3.5 lakh per annum. The package depends on the media organisation (news channel, newspaper or magazine), its size and location. A lot of development journalists freelance. Many development communicators switch lanes and join non-government organisations, which promise more growth and exposure.

Skills/TRAITS
.
Excellent communication skills
. Good interpersonal skills
. Good general knowledge and awareness
. Ability to pitch story to TV/newspapers
. A modest personality and an inherent desire to report on human issues would take you a long way

Getting there
You can opt for any subject combination in Class 12 and at the bachelors levels. An aspirant seeking to make a career in development journalsim may come from any academic background, but a social science degree is preferable. You need to acquaint yourself with the social sciences, especially important theories of political science and sociology to gain a better understanding of the contemporary society. Familiarise yourself with the history of the country/district/village. A postgraduate degree or diploma in journalism/ mass communication or development communication might help

Institutes and URLs
.
Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi www.iimc.nic.in
. Jamia Millia Islamia www.jmi.nic.in
. Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Bangalore www.iijnm.org
. Asian College of Journalism, Chennai
www.asianmedia.org
. Xavier Institute, Mumbai www.xaviercomm.org

Pros and cons
. It is a very satisfying work, as it touches lives
. The profession offers relatively low packages
. A high-responsibility job
. Your work can influence the reader’s life
. Tight deadlines
. You may have to travel to remote areas, at times risking your life
. Reporting on development issues can get extremely challenging
. Limited job options