Indira S. Somani, journalist, PhD

Comparing IIJNM with W & L

Last week the broadcast students at IIJNM produced a new website called “Bangalore’s CityCast” as a platform for all the broadcast stories to be viewed.  The student producers finally focused on meeting deadline to build the site.  From my experience at W&L I have found that in some instances the production process is the same at IIJNM.  But I have also found some differences.

A)   W & L students are undergraduates, meaning they are in the range of 18 to 22.  IIJNM students have completed five years of college and have even worked in the field.  Most are in their early 20s. However, one IIJNM faculty member expressed to me that American students have more life experience, more maturity and as a result, they are better prepared to report on a story in the field.  But with IIJNM students that’s not necessarily the case as some come from a more sheltered home life.  As a result, the process of reporting may be harder for some in the beginning, but not impossible to learn.
B)   W & L students report about Rockbridge County (Virginia), which is approximately 21,000 people.  IIJNM students report on Bangalore, India, a city of at least 10 million people.
C)   Both groups of students write, shoot, record and edit their own stories and upload them to YouTube, once they are approved.  To edit, W&L students use Final Cut Pro or Avid, while IIJNM students use Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro.
D)    While in class or in the lab, students use Facebook, email or text their friends– this is a universal problem.  I have had students text their friends in class in the U.S., and I literally have to tell the IIJNM students “don’t open Facebook or email, just concentrate on editing your story” when they are in the lab.  I don’t know why, but for some reason I thought Indian students would be more disciplined.  Time management is definitely an issue across the globe.
E)    At both W & L and IIJNM, students edit their video stories, but don’t always meet deadline, because the technology is not always so reliable.
F)    W&L students use WordPress to build The Rockbridge Report.  They used  to use Dreamweaver.  IIJNM students use Dreamweaver to build CityCast.
G)   For W & L students, English is their native language.  But that doesn’t always mean they can write a sentence that is grammatically correct.  With IIJNM, the students’ mother-tongue is not English.  But they are expected to report in English.  Not all students think in English, they think in Hindi or Bengali or their native language.  All the students went to English-medium schools and colleges, talk in English, and consume English media.  But not all think in English and as a result it shows in their writing.  We actually have an English class here where most students are enrolled.  Some try to skip it to go and shoot more b-roll for their stories, but then we ask them “what’s a subjunctive.”  Then they say, “I better go to English class.”
H)   At W & L we preach to our students to read your script and/or print stories aloud before you submit it.  It’s the same at IIJNM.  This teaching technique is to ensure students catch their own mistakes like words missing in sentences, etc.  At both institutions not all students have understood the benefit of reading stories aloud.
I)  All students at both institutions graduate with the hands-on experience they need to report in the field and produce in the newsroom.