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Loving the experience

The Hindu : Education Plus : Loving the experience: Monday, 08 February, 2010
Exciting: A new-media student on the job

“It was an experience to reckon with as it helped me understand the diversity of opinions people have in the city on one issue,” said Bansi Mehta, a print student at the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM), Bangalore. She was one of the 22 IIJNM students who worked in collaboration with U.K.-based Channel 4 to produce a special programme on India.

The students had to find out what Bangaloreans think of certain topics in the news on a given day. These ranged from issues of the day to the hot sports topic of the day to the celebrity of the day. The results were then uploaded on Channel 4's website. “The programme was meant for the international audience, so it was a different kind of experience,” said Surekha Deepak, IIJNM faculty who coordinated the project.

Channel 4 appreciated the work done by the students. “While we we're time-restricted by events in Haiti, your students' work greatly aided our website,” said Oliver King of Channel 4 news.

“I enjoyed every moment of the job assigned by Channel 4 as part of India Winter season. It was a matter of pride,” said Mrinmoy Bhowmick, a broadcast student.


However, for a few, the experience was challenging. “It was tough to find people and make them talk during the office hours. One of the worst experiences was to ask students to talk on camera when they had exams to appear for,” said Arnab Lal Seal.

Some found the challenge exciting. They said that this would help them prepare for real-life situations. Chandan Singh, broadcast student, said, “It was all about meeting strangers. At times I had to give them newspapers to read and they were willing to participate. The whole exercise of briefing, convincing, shooting was a fun-filled learning experience.”

“As a print student, I was a bit wary of using a camera. In the first few shots I took, the faces were distorted and there was no audio. But it was a steep learning curve and soon my vox pop captured people walking horizontally (rock climbing) and tall people (the State volleyball team),” said Parimal Vijay S.S., another print student.


BBMP, BDA top in RTI cases

Bangalore, Deccan Heradl : Saturday , 15 August 2009

The maximum number of cases seeking information through the Right to Information (RTI) Act have been filed against the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), said Commissioner of Karnataka Information Commission, Virupakshaiah.

Taking part in a panel discussion on RTI seminar organised by the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Virupakshaiah lamented the fact that the State only had two information commissioners. “Almost 6,000 cases are pending. More infrastructure and people are required to handle it,” he said.

Shekhar Singh, co-founder of the National Coalition for People’s Right to Information, said the law relating to RTI was drafted to nab corrupt people in government departments.

He reiterated the findings of a nationwide survey conducted by his organisation, that involved 35,000 citizens in ten States. “The survey had to file more than 800 RTI requests to determine the responsiveness of the government,” he added. He called upon students to use the RTI.

Jayashree JN, Founder, `Fight Corruption Now’ who has made use of the RTI to root out corrupt officials says that one needs to fight for the right to get information at every step. “You just can’t give up at any point,” she asserted.

Theodore Bhaskaran, historian, mentioned that the English language media was more active in propagating information relating to RTI than the vernacular media. “It took two years to get hold of a Tamil version of the RTI Act,” he said.

Director of Consumer Rights Education and Awareness Trust (CREAT), Y G Muralidharan shed light on the efforts initiated to bring about transparency at the village level. The seminar was moderated by Pulitzer Prize finalist, Ralph Frammolino.

NO AWARENESS: 45% urbanites aware of RTI

Survey Reveals Not Many People File Applications

Time of India, Bangalore : Saturday , 15 August 2009 : Page 5

Bangalore: How many of us actually file an RTI request when we need crucial information A survey has found only 45 per cent of the urban population is aware of RTI, which means less than half of the populace actually files an application.

The question of awareness about the right to information was raised at a conference organized by the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media at Alliance Francaise on Friday.

The workshops objective was to inform young journalists about the usefulness of RTI as a tool for investigative journalism.

A few surveys on RTI awareness was conducted across 10 states. The results indicated that very few people knew about the right and many used it to harass government officials. M G Muralidharan, director , Consumer Rights Education and Awareness Trust (CREAT), said the number of cases registered in Bangalore were mainly related to violation of building laws by BBMP.

The workshop also discussed the media coverage on RTI and publication of successful stories to spread awareness.

Jayashree J N, founder of Fight Corruption Now, urged the audience to collectively file RTI requests to the immediate higher authority and seek general information as a first step to their queries. The workshop was also attended by many college students.

Reporting to the entire world


Those aspiring to be media professionals can get quality training nowadays

Exciting times: Students practise anchoring and shooting, while another team works on video editing system (background). An old adage goes, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Today, it may not always have to do with the pen, but the truth in this adage is something that is hard to dispute. With the explosion of multitude forms of media, there are a plethora of opportunities to pursue for budding journalists and media professionals. EducationPlus checks on what’s new.

Today several colleges specialise in media courses that are all wired to train tomorrow’s budding journalists. The Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media (IIJNM) offers television journalism, radio journalism, newspaper journalism, magazine journalism and new media (web) journalism.

Journalism at the PG level in Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication (SIMC) is offered only in Pune, as Master’s in Mass Communication, an UGC-recognised degree. This is journalism across media, covering print, television, cyber and radio, and in the last semester, students can specialise in one area of choice. The focus is not necessarily on the medium or vehicle (print or TV etc) but on the function of journalism. Further, a journalism specialisation trainee learns content development, content distribution, content marketing and media management functions in their basics, before going further into content creation/development in a given area and for a given medium. Based in Chennai, Asian College of Journalism has a three-term course structured to cover lectures and workshops, specialisation courses, electives and the dissertation. The academic year ends with a two-week internship at a print, broadcast, or online news organisation. The faculty assists in arranging these internships, which give students first-hand experience of a working journalistic operation. A two-month-long TV Journalism module run by the BBC is part of the broadcast specialisation.

Journalism is a field that values individuals who are curious, well-read, enthusiastic, creative and who have demonstrated initiative in their work and studies. “We seek students with a passion for the field and a keen interest in what is happening around them. This may be reflected by outstanding prior work in journalism, or by describing clearly what motivates him/her to a career in this field,” says Kanchan Kaur, Vice-Dean, Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM).

A Bachelor’s degree in any discipline is normally required. Applicants awaiting final year examination results or who will be graduating this year may also apply. For diploma programmes, you must have cleared an equivalent of the 12th Standard exam. Some colleges mandate that the student clear the SNAP written test (Symbiosis National Aptitude Test) apart from group discussions, interviews and the like. The admission process for M.S. Communication, BAJC and PGDCC is based on an all-India entrance test.

Varadesh Hiregange, Assistant Professor, Manipal Institute of Communication, says, “Journalism is increasingly being defined and directed by the demand-and-supply economics. Journalism is not merely a career, but also a commitment to larger interests of society. Journalism education also makes itself redundant if it forgets such a commitment.”

Says Ranita Hirji, Dean of Studies, COMMITS, “since our insitute offers an M.A. degree (and not a diploma), it allows students to pursue higher studies and apply for international fellowships and research. With the students getting exposure to a variety of subjects, it also allows them to multi-task and seamlessly move from one career option to another depending upon the requirement.”

So, if you have the flair for articulation and the will to stand by the truth, this will be a rewarding experience.

Despite RTI Act, officials stonewall information seekers

The Hindu : Page 2 : Sunday, May 03, 2009

A group of journalism students took up an investigative project

It took 23 visits to get information on Chief Minister’s temple visits

Only the Lokayukta office was cooperative and willing to give data

BANGALORE: A team of journalism students investigating various issues discovered that it was not easy to source information under the Right to Information Act.

With the exception of the Lokayukta office, students of the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media were either turned away or given responses as late as three months after information was sought.

Sample this. Peeved with increasing number of news reports on Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa’s temple visits, P. Krishnamurthy and Pavan Kumar H. sought official records and expenditure details on the subject. “We found 23 such visits reported in newspapers from May 30 to November 15, but the RTI response mentioned only nine,” he said.

Further, the RTI revealed that the Chief Minister spent over Rs. 11 lakh government funds. This piece of “partial information” took 12 visits to the Chief Minister’s Special Officer in the Vidhana Soudha over three months, Mr. Kumar added.

BMTC accidents

Tackling the issue of mounting numbers of accidents involving BMTC buses, another group filed an RTI application in November. One month later, students were told that the “RTI application was misplaced”. Shockingly in January, a second application met with a similar fate. “We had to approach the appellate authority only to find that out of 500 fatal accidents from 2000 to 2008, 317 occurred due to driver negligence,” said Urmi Misra. However, of the 317 only 35 drivers were dismissed. Twenty-eight drivers were involved in more than one fatal accident.

While the story behind every project pointed to the “obvious loopholes” in the system, the institute’s visiting professor and Pulitzer award-winning journalist Ralph Frammolino said these stories point to the difficulties in obtaining information.

Poor punishment

Students Manasi Phadke and Brenton Cordeiro said their task was the easiest with Lokayukta being “most co-operative”. “In this case, the intention was to show that although this office is a bully pulpit and its actions may act as deterrent, the complaints and raids do not always translate into action,” said Mr. Frammolino.

The RTI revealed that less that one per cent of 26,000 complaints resulted in verified punishments.

Mr. Frammolino, who guided the investigative group “I-team”, pointed out that the RTI filed with the Department of Public Instruction and block-level education offices failed to fetch desired results.

“They are not upfront about who’s on leave, and many offices have not given us any reply to date,” said Anirban Sen.

“We asked for 100 teachers with highest absentee records and they gave us 10. And when we asked primary data of the SSA 2008 survey, we were turned away,” added Krishna Merchant, who worked in the same team.


CM's temple visits cost Rs 11 lakh

Deccan Herald : Bangalore : Saturday, 2 May, 2009

Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has paid eight official visits to temples during the first few months of his tenure at a cost of Rs 11 lakh to the public exchequer.

This revelation figured among the four major findings student journalists of Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media have gathered by making use of the Right to Information Act. 

Briefing the media on Thursday, the students alleged that government departments were reluctant to give complete information though they were legally bound to do so under the Act.

Charging the CM’s office with being ‘most uncooperative’ with the requests, students said that they were shunted between different officials for 72 times by 18 officers to gather the requisite information. BMTC fires only ten percent of its drivers who had caused fatal accidents and the rest get back to work, a fact that has come to light through RTI.

The students had to file three applications before the authorities responded.

“BMTC has quietly recycled their most deadly drivers responsible for nearly 370 fatal collisions since 2000. In the case of 28 drivers, they caused a second and even a third accident before they were fired,” the students said.
Government school teachers go on leave for years without being removed from the rolls, another RTI application to the Department of Public Instruction revealed.

Lokayukta received praise from the students for being most co-operative. However, the flip side was that less than one percent of the corruption cases booked by Lokayukta culminated with convictions.

Link: CM's temple visits cost Rs 11 lakh

The New Indian Express : Express Features

Page 3 : Friday, 1 May, 2009

IIJNM students share their experience about
using the RTI Act

BANGALORE: The students of the investigative class of the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) on Thursday disclosed the findings of their project which needed extensive use of the Right to Information Act (RTI). Using RTI, the students have unearthed facts pertaining to Bangalore Metro Transport Corporation, education in the state, the chief minister’s visits to temples and Lokayukta.

The students, as per their findings, report that while promising to weed out reckless drivers, BMTC officials have quietly re-employed their most deadly ones — ones responsible for nearly 370 fatal collisions since 2000.

“In 28 cases, the drivers who were given another chance went on to cause a second, sometimes even a third fatal accident before they were fired. BMTC officials say that they don’t immediately fire drivers because, among other things, it could hurt employee morale,’’ the students reported.

Another team came up with a story that goes on to establish that the public paid Rs 11.2 lakh to send Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa on eight ‘official’ temple visits during the first six months of his tenure.

“Karnataka education officials responsible for overseeing government school teachers have allowed some to go on leave for years without purging them from the employment rolls,’’ a team reported. “Lokayukta Santosh Hegde whips up publicity when he traps or raids public officials, but is coveniently silent about the track record of his office. Less than 1 per cent of all complaints and traps result in verified punishments,’’ another team reported.

“One of our projects on BDA missed the year end deadline as the students had to wait for five months for information,’’ said a student. They also shared their experience while on the project. 

Link: Students dig up hidden truths

CM’s temple visits cost Rs 11 lakh

TIMES NEWS NETWORK : Page 4 : Friday, 1 May, 2009

Bangalore: Chief minister B S Yeddyurappa made eight official visits to Hindu temples at a cost of Rs 11 lakh in his first five months in office. An application under the Right to Information Act filed by a journalism student brought up this interesting fact. He made visits only to Hindu temples, not to mosques, churches or any other holy place. In five of eight instances, he and his ministers used helicopters or special aircraft to go to these places.

The RTI application, filed by Pavan Kumar H of the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, sought to know the number of official visits to holy places, cost incurred, who accompanied the CM and mode of travel. It took him 6 weeks to get the reply, which was incomplete. There were also several discrepancies as the student’s review of newspapers during that period showed over 22 temple visits. He made 13 visits to other Hindu temples, including the Rajarajeshwari temple in Kerala where he donated a 9-year-old elephant worth over Rs 35 lakh, and trips to Mysore Dasara and Hampi Utsav which were ‘personal visits’.


Pavan’s batchmate Urmi Mishra wanted to know the accident rate of BMTC buses and charges against errant drivers. An RTI application revealed that of 500 fatal accidents since 2000, BMTC drivers were at fault in 367 or 73% of cases. BMTC dismissed only 35 of 317 errant drivers and the rest were back to driving its buses.
Less than 1% of Lokayukta cases end up in verified punishments. Even though there is wide coverage of Lokayukta raids, government agencies hardly act against employees found to be corrupt by Lokayukta. This was found through Manasi Phadke’s RTI application.


Anirban Sen and Krishna Merchant were curious about the attendance rates of teachers in government schools. Their RTI application revealed the shocking cases of two teachers, Ashraff Unnissa (Alahalli) and Shanthamma (Rural Yediyur) who were absent for over two years. Worse, no replacements did their work. Every day in Karnataka, one out of five teachers do not attend class.

The students had a tough time getting information from government departments — some sneered at the uncomfortable questions and some delayed replies by almost two months.

IIJNM visiting faculty Los Angeles Times reporter Ralph Frammolino, who guided the students, said that India has a powerful tool like RTI, far ahead from the provisions in the US and journalists can make good use of it.

Link: CM's temple visits cost Rs 11 lakh

CM's temple visits cost Rs 11 lakh

Zee News

Bangalore, May 03: Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has paid eight official visits to temples during the first few months of his tenure at a cost of Rs 11 lakh to the public exchequer.

This revelation figured among the four major findings student journalists of Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media have gathered by making use of the Right to Information Act.

Briefing the media on Thursday, the students alleged that government departments were reluctant to give complete information though they were legally bound to do so under the Act.

Charging the CM’s office with being ‘most uncooperative’ with the requests, students said that they were shunted between different officials for 72 times by 18 officers to gather the requisite information.

BMTC fires only ten percent of its drivers who had caused fatal accidents and the rest get back to work, a fact that has come to light through RTI.

The students had to file three applications before the authorities responded.

“BMTC has quietly recycled their most deadly drivers responsible for nearly 370 fatal collisions since 2000. In the case of 28 drivers, they caused a second and even a third accident before they were fired,” the students said. Government school teachers go on leave for years without being removed from the rolls, another RTI application to the Department of Public Instruction revealed.

Lokayukta received praise from the students for being most co-operative. However, the flip side was that less than one percent of the corruption cases booked by Lokayukta culminated with convictions.


A bumpy ride to Nityanandanagar

City Express : Page 3 : Monday September 24 2007

THE ride to Nityanandanagar, from Kumbalgudu on Mysore Road, is literally a roller coaster one. The road, which was laid 16 years ago, has not seen a trace of asphalt since two years.
The road is frequently used by many since it houses three prominent educational institutions: Vivekananda Institute of Technology (VIT), Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) and B.G.S International School.

VIT, an engineering college with more than 1,000 students, has been on this road for over a decade. The students of this college have been victims of various minor accidents. College Principal Doddanna Hemanth says that repeated requests to the panchayat office and to Health Minister R Ashok, who is from the constituency, have gone unheard.

‘‘The road needs to be broadened since there have been many minor accidents involving the college buses, though there were no major injuries and casualties,’’ he remarks.

The condition of the roads worsens during the rainy season and the Principal of BGS International School Sheila moots for a public-private partnership.‘‘There should be some kind of a private and government partnership to take care of the roads. These partnerships have tremendous scope for improving the infrastructure of the road and the City,’’ she says.

Apparently, only two of their fleet of 10 buses use the Kumbalgudu Road and the others use the Kanakapura Road. She adds that many City students reside in the school to avoid commuting on these roads.

Administration head of the school Shiviah says that the bad roads have taken a toll on the school buses. The maintenance costs of the buses have increased due to the condition of the road.

The road leading to the school has a median but the bad condition of the road has lead to people using just one side of the road, increasing the risk of accidents. Though frequent commuters prefer walking than taking a bus on this road, the lack of street lights makes it a scary walk after sunset. There have been incidents of eve teasing and students of IIJNM becoming victims of eve teasing. In fact, a complaint has also been registered with the Talaghattapura police station.

Since the Main District Road between Mysore Road and Kanakapura Road is being relaid right now, residents are hoping that the attention could be turned to this road as well.

The only hope is that Public Welfare Department’s Junior Engineer Suresh has said that the tender for re-laying the road has been approved and the repairing of the road would start within two months.

Media advised to impose self-censorship

Sunday City Express : August 26, 2007 : Page News 19

Aug 25: Media should· impose self-censorship before the government suo moto decides to bridle it, opined speakers at a seminar on 'Media and Terror: A critical look' at the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIINM), on Saturday.

CNN-IBN Senior Editor Vidya Shankar Aiyar said, "Television today lays less emphasis on facts in an effort to catch up with the competition. Media organisations are to be blamed for the government's decision to introduce the Broadcast Bill."

"Whether it was Haneef or Sanjay Dutt, the media hyped what was popular without much research primarily because television has no time for research," Aiyar added.

Another speaker, Times Now Output Editor Vivek Narayan agreed that the media should impose self-censorship. He said that the worldview of terrorism has changed since September 11, 2001, and defining a terrorist has become difficult because one man's patriotism proves terrorism for another.

The New Indian Express Karnataka and Kerala Resident Editor R Shankar explained how today's newspaper headlines are being driven by television, and the pressure is upon the dailies to publish news shown on television, even if such items did not merit space. According to Shankar, the reigning concern for the print media today is the lack of research, the 'TV exclusives' and lopsided information from a solitary source.

But Human Rights lawyer B T Venkatesh took up cudgels and lashed heavily at the media. He explained how media often carried stories from "informed" sources, when they have really got no information at all from credible sources. Using the Haneef and Kafeel cases as examples, he said that the families have stories to tell, but no media organisation is willing to tell them. Media only wanted to tell stories they wanted to, he added.

However, he agreed that the Broadcast Bill was a bad idea, because, all said and done, only the media can bring the reality out.

Speakers: media must regulate itself

The Hindu : August 26, 2007 : Page 3

Staff Reporter : BANGALORE: The media should impose self-censorship before the Government decides to bring in restrictions in the name of regulations, said speakers at a seminar on Saturday on Media and Terror: A critical look.

The seminar was held at the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM). The speakers included personalities from television and print media, and a rights activist lawyer.

In the effort to catch up with competition, television tends to lay less emphasis on facts and more on drama, according to Vidya Shankar Aiyar, Senior Editor, CNN-IBN.

Media organisations were to blame for the fact that the Government wanted to introduce the Broadcast Bill, he said. Whether it was the Haneef case, or Sanjay Dutt, the media hyped what was popular without much research, he added, primarily because television had no time for research.

The media, he pointed out, needed to, give credibility to its audience, and needed to maintain a sense of integrity. The temptation to bow to TRP ratings was great, he added, but the editorial and the marketing departments needed to work together to ensure credibility.

Vivek Narayan, Output Editor, Times Now, agreed that the media should impose selfcensorship. The worldview of terrorism had changed since September 11, 2001, he said, adding that defining a terrorist was a difficult job because one man's patriot was the other's terrorist.

R. Shankar, Resident Editor, Indian Express, Karnataka and Kerala, explained how television was driving newspaper headlines today. Newspapers were under pressure to publish news shown on television, even if it did not merit space, and was simply differently packaged. The concerns for print today were lack of research, television exclusives and one-sided information from only one kind of sources, he said.

Human rights lawyer B.T. Venkatesh explained how the media carried stories from "informed" sources when they got no information at all from credible sources. Using the Haneef and Kafeel cases as examples, he said that the families had stories to tell, but no media organisation was willing to tell them. Media, he added, only wanted to tell stories they wanted to.

IIJNM Annual Convocation 2007 : Media Coverage

Media blamed for cynicism of voters about politicians

Staff Reporter : The Hindu : 02 November 2006

BANGALORE: More than 50 per cent of Americans in the 18 to 21 age group don't trust politicians because "they are dishonest."If this recent survey report reads so much like an Indian urban story, blame the lack of trust in an institution called "Representative Democracy."

Big interests
Nine out of 10 Americans in that age group believe a few big interests run the Government.

Terming this a "very, very cynical attitude" was Karl K. Kurtz, director of National Conference of State Legislature (NCSL)'s Trust for Representative Democracy, a public outreach and education programme, who is on a visit to the city-based Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM).

Mr. Kurtz said it was demoralising to the elected officials, hindered recruitment of candidates and made building consensus that much more difficult.

Yet, the IIJNM students did not bat an eyelid when asked to justify that cynicism.

The Indian-American divide seemed to merge as they reeled out the reasons: "Corruption, false promises, laidback attitude of politicians, lack of transparency and judicial failure."

Mr. Kurtz's challenge, back in the U.S., was to challenge that cynicism and put the trust back in the political process.

Towards that end, NCSL was busy taking American legislators back to school.

The idea was to explain to students how they worked in areas related to conflict, negotiations and compromised.
Breaking barriers was the big objective. Project Citizen was another key role, a middle school civic education programme.

Mr. Kurtz represented NCSL that networked the 50 American States in matters of legislature, governance and everything that negated the need to "re-invent the wheel" as he put it.

But for the Indian students, he represented the American Government and that was valid enough to shoot some foreign policy questions.

Obvious choice
Iraq was the most obvious choice. The response from Mr. Kurtz was telling."Elections in the United States are not won on international or foreign policy issues, but on local ones." And that explained why the American public opinion differed so widely with the worldview on the U.S. administration's role in Iraq and West Asia.

The acknowledgement came from Mr. Kurtz himself. "Americans are insular," he said.
The media was to blame for the cynicism of the public, as it often portrayed politicians in a negative light.

This observation by a student drew Mr. Kurtz's attention to the American media, which he was convinced, sent reporters with inadequate knowledge of the process of governance to cover politics. For tomorrow's journalists, getting fine-tuned at IIJNM, he had a word of advice: "Reporters should be sceptical, they ought to ask tough questions. But let that be in a context of overall trust of the system."

Link :

Mr CM are you listening?

Uttarahalli develops, but not the roads

A DH - Students Initiative : Deepa Kurup, Debanish Achom & Aditi Shah (IIJNM students)

DECCAN HERALD, Bangalore : 07 September 2006

Rapid development without proper planning and infrastructure has made life miserable for residents and commuters around Uttarahalli Main Road. As the city expands, its outskirts bear the brunt of poor planning. Bad roads, improper drainage, poor garbage management and lack of space for road expansion are primary complaints. Once an obscure road that linked Kengeri to the city, the Uttarahalli Main Road, on the Padmanabhanagar side (close to former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda’s house), is fast becoming a large residential and commercial area.

Consequently, small, rural roads are now housing large apartment blocks, schools and commercial complexes. They are unable to take the load of school buses, lorries laden with construction goods and BMTC buses that ply all day. The roads are half-tarred, potholes abound, and traffic jams during peak hours are regular. "Six months ago when a politician was supposed to pass by this area, authorities started repairing the road. When his visit got cancelled, they left it mid-way," says Anil Patel, a wood merchant in Uttarahalli, pointing to the half-laid road.

Low real estate prices have resulted in intense construction activity around the area and with it, movement of trucks carrying construction material have increased. The narrow, congested lanes cannot take the volume. "I refuse to let my 15-year-old son ride a vehicle on the road. The heavy traffic and bumpy roads make it unsafe," says Poornima Nair, a housewife.

Schools in the area have imposed punishment on students who leave the school premises without permission from teachers. Some schools have had to employ watchmen to help their students cross roads, as there are few traffic policemen in the area. The Prarthana School junction is one such bottleneck that needs a traffic signal or at least a policeman, during peak hours, residents point out.

The state of the roads is worse during the monsoon. All the loose mud on the road turns to slush and the potholes get covered by muddy water, making the roads dangerous for pedestrians and riders.

Residents say that when it rains, the clogged drains overflow and the dirty water comes on to the roads, raising not just a stink, but hygiene issues too. Most homes rely on septic tanks as there is no proper sewage system in the area. Mosquitoes abound, also thanks to the uncleared garbage in the area. The surrounding lakes are used as repositories for sewage from different parts of the city, and garbage from the area. Locals living near Doraikere Lake recall the lake to be a large water body with water fit for consumption. Now, it is nothing more than a dumping ground.

Despite these problems, the area continues to expand. Low prices in the area and congestion elsewhere in the city has attracted more people to the area, setting off a vicious cycle.

Any answers?
*Why are basic civic amenities like drainage and roads not put in place?
*Why can't the movement of heavy vehicles be restricted to a few hours in the day?
*Why isn’t there a proper garbage collection system?
*Why is so much of construction work being allowed along narrow roads?


Budding journos head straight

BVT FEATURES (Bangalore Vijay Times - 07 September 2006)

Students of Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media at the editing studios of the institute.UNLIKE in the past. opportunities are rolling for students doing media related courses in the City to have hands on experience of what they learn in their curriculum, be it in the electronic or print media.

With TV channels mushrooming, budding journos are being exposed to the practicalities of the profession they would embrace after their studies. Students of Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media (IIJNM), Kumbalgodu. for example, have chanced upon a great opportunity to work as reporters for Times Now TV channel.

Shlesha Salvi gets a feel of the TV camera.Times Now has roped in several young journalists in the making from IIJNM to get stories done for its "Refresh Bangalore" programme, reflecting the views of commoners.

As a matter of fact, says John Thomas, the Vice-Dean of IIJNM, "Our students have it in their curriculum to go out on the beat on alternate days; This time, following a call from Times Now, they worked for a fortnight."

"We would reach out to different areas in the City to get the bytes in the mornings. Yes, we were initially very nervous, which we could overcome soon," says Priya Randhawa, beaming with confidence.

Printed articleEven the questions thrown by them were quite relevant: In what better way can we take care of senior citizens? How to reduce the crime rate in the City? How to transform the City as the most liveable one?, lists Sharanya Mohan, a student of Radio/TV Journalism.

Even as the reporters came back after taking the bytes; a back-end group edited the logged bytes in the state-of-the-art editing studios of the institute before they were sent for telecast, said Shankar Venkataraman in the faculty for TV/Radio Journalism.

Students Rapti Bhaumik. Parul Gupta. Akshata Rao. Sneha Mordani and Anna Isaac said: "Most of the citizens who were featured felt that we were making a 'bakra' of them while some needed to be prompted before they went in detail." Sudeepa Chakraborty, Priya Randhawa and Shlesha Salvi said the people were, by and large, cooperative."We got insights into TV journalism. This hands-on experience has increased our faith in the Fourth Estate and has helped us make some good contacts too," they said.

'Bangalore should be more stranger friendly'

The New Indian Express, Bangalore : 30 August 2006

IIJNM students assist TIMES NOW crew for gathering views from Bangalore's citizens on how to improve the city's sagging image.

An experiment with live news: Special edition on Dr. Rajkumar by Journalism students

Vijay Times, Bangalore : April 22

The New Indian Express, Bangalore : April 14


Media institute holds first convocation

DH News Service BANGALORE, July 8

The first annual convocation of the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media held here today saw fourteen students received their post-graduate diploma in Print and Web Journalism.

Six among them also received the outstanding performance awards in categories -news reporting, magazine writing, new media, design and production and software application skills. They are Hemali Chhapia and Aman Khanna, Debarshi Dasgupta, Amrita Mariam Thomas, Sreerekha Pillai and Smitha Sahay respectively.

Delivering the convocation address, veteran journalist-sports writer Rajan Bala urged the students not to succumb to the many temptations they are likely to encounter in their journalistic career.

IIJNM Dean, Dr Abraham George, in his presidential address, explained the activities of the Institute over last two and half years.

The ceremony also saw students speak at length about their life in IIJNM.

Revive environmental journalism, says Guha

Indian Express 1 December 2002

Bangalore, Nov 30: There is a need for the revival of environmental journalism in the country, noted writer and historian Ramachandra Guha has said. Guha was delivering a talk on the rise and fall of environmental journalism at the conclusion of a two- day 'Workshop on Environmental Journalism at the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media on Saturday. Guha said that the period between 1985-95 marked the golden age of environmental reporting during which numerous stories were generated by the print media.

He said liberalization has had an impact on environmental issues and that environmentalists must take a stand. Guha also spoke about the dilemmas of environmental reporting such as whether to write about the process or the personality leading an agitation.

Punish forest violators: meet

Times of India 30 November 2002

Bangalore: Speakers at a workshop on "environmental challenges before Karnataka," on Friday called for stringent action against violators and an effective land management plan to protect forests and eco-systems from further degradation.

Speaking at the workshop jointly organized by the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media and the Washington based International Center for Journalists, noted wildlife Conservationist K.Ullas Karanth, who presented a 12-minute film on the impact of mining in Kudremukh said: "There ought to be a clear demarcation of industrial areas and territory exclusively for landscape. What is left in our landscape is just 3 per cent, We have ruined the remaining 97 per cent."

Chairman of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) Upendra J Tripathy in his inaugural address stressed, "the need for collaboration between research and development centers the government before finalizing procedures for polluting industries.

Sairam Bhat of the Centre for Environment Education and Research (CEERA), who pointed out the loopholes in environmental laws said not a Single person has been convicted for ruining our eco-systems. Senior journalist Nagesh Hegde in his presentation on "Environment impact of linking rivers" said linking rivers would lead to massive human displacement, nutrient blockage to ocean and excessive fragmentation of sanctuaries and parks: 'Ford environmental journalism fellow and senior producer A. Adam Glenn of, New York in his talk on "Trends in environmental Journalism," said the media had a key role to play while eliciting society's response to a environmental disaster: "Newspapers did little to broach the most fundamental questions of Bhopal tragedy," he said.

Workshops to promote eco-journalism

The Hindu 22 November 2002

By Our Special Correspondent

BANGALORE, NOV. 21. The City- based Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) in association with the International Centre for Journalists, Washington D.C., will organise workshops-cum - seminars in major cities to promote environmental journalism.

The first event to be held Chennai on November 26 and 27, and in Bangalore on the IIJNM Campus on November 29 and 30. This will be followed by seminars cum- workshops in. Mumbai on December 3 and 4, in New Delhi on December 6 and 7, and in Kolkota on December 10 and11.

The Environment and Education Centre, Sanctuary Asia, LEAD in India, and the School of Fundamental Research are the co-organisers of the programme in Chennai, Murnbai, Delhi, and Kolkota, respectively, according to a press note issued by the Dean of IIJNM, Abraham George.

The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) Chairman will inaugurate the programme on the IIJNM Campus on November 29. This will be followed by a panel discussion on environmental challenges before Karnataka. Ullas Karanth, wildlife expert, Nagesh Hegde, environmental journalist, and O.V. Nandimath, Associate Professor of Environmental Law, National Law School of India University, will participate as panelists.

On November 30, Adam Glenn, Ford Environmental Journalism Fellow and an award winning senior producer with the ABC News of the U.S., will conduct a training session for journalists.

Speakers at the seminars will address key environmental issues of local concern, while experts participating in the workshops will offer techniques for improving environmental reporting and writing, practical tips on environmental resources, and ideas for reports that appeal to local readers.

Those interested may contact Anusuya John on Ph: (08)8437907 or 8437902 for registration.

Revive media coverage of environmental issues

DH News Service


An appeal for reviving a people-oriented approach to media coverage of environmental issues was made here today by noted historian and writer Ramachandra Guha.

Environmental journalists were also a casualty of the 'Hoopla surrounding liberalization and globalization in the late 1990s.

Apart from giving rise to a breed of anti-environment journalists, the period also saw the "Professionalisation and popularization of environmental issues."

The related start of subject specific magazines like Down to Earth and others by reputed environmental writers took environmental issues away from mainstream media, Mr Ramachandra Guha pointed out while giving a brief account of the historical aspects of environmental journalism,in lndia. Mr Guha, who has authored and co-authored many books was speaking at the valedictory session of a two-day workshop on environmental journalism in the City.

The programme "Professional Development Workshop for Environmental Journalists" anchored by Mr Adam Glenn, Ford Environmental Journalism Fellow and senior producer, New York, was held under the aegis of the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM), Bangalore.


The Sunday Times - Sri Lanka
28 April 2002

The Rising Nepal - Kathmandu
01 May 2002

Becoming immensely popular as a career choice these days is the field of communication and media. A very trendy, hi-tech entry into this arena is that of the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media.

Started in December 2000, IIJNM is a world-class journalism-training institute in Bangalore. The Institute offers a one-year post- graduate diploma in print and web journalism. Students with a flair for writing and passion for journalism come here from all parts of the country to make a career in the media, which is fast emerging as a field sought after by bright young minds. The second batch of IIJNM students are about to graduate this month.

The curriculum has been developed in association with the graduate school of journalism, Columbia University at New York. Based on the Columbia model, it offers specialization in political reporting, business reporting, environmental reporting, international political reporting, sports reporting and such other branches of journalism, in addition to training students in core journalistic skills of writing and editing.

IIJNM lays enormous stress on practical training of journalism. The process of learning here is not limited to the classroom. Students' understanding of the reporting and writing classes is put to the test through weekly beat reporting assignments. Tuesdays and Thursdays are beat reporting days when students are out in the field to do stories. Sometimes they are sent to city and at other times they report on the neighborhood communities. The Institute has been awarded two prestigious international fellow ships - Knight international fellow ship and ford Environmental journalism fellowships, for the year 2002. Under these fellowship, senior journalists from abroad would take up teaching assignment at IIJNM for six months to one year to cover a variety of subjects and to give hands-on training to students in the areas of specialization of the visiting journalist. The visit of journalists of international repute under the fellowship program, would contribute immensely to enhance the quality of our academic program, "says Dr Abraham M George, Dean of IIJNM. " It is an honor to the institute to have got these fellowships just within a period of one and half years of its existence " says Dr George.


The Asian Age 6 May 2002 (Rampage Campus)

StudentsWant to intern at the New York Times and, if you're good enough, maybe work there too? You could do just that, provided you opt for a course at The Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media. This institute is one of the latest additions to the fast mushrooming media institutes in the city.

Started in 2001, the institute offers a 12-month diploma in print and web journalism. The course curriculum has been developed in association with Columbia University Graduate School, New York. "The course is quite intensive and covers a wide spectrum which includes print, magazine and online journalism. The students are trained in all skills related to journalism like reporting, editing, page making, layouts etc.," says Anusuya John, director of projects and administration IIJNM.

The school is nestled across five acres, in the outskirts of Bangalore, at Nityananda Nagar, Kengeri Hobli. The other features of the institute include spacious classrooms, a media room where students can work on their pages and articles. Each student is given a Pentium III PC with an Internet connection. A library houses periodicals and books, while an open air amphitheatre has been built to facilitate discussions. The institute also boasts of an online library. Practical work is given importance at the institute.

"During the first semester, there are a lot of lectures and theory work, but in the second semester, students start working on their beats (specialised areas of reporting.) They write on various issues and bring out a monthly magazine called The beat and a newsletter called The New Scribe," Anusuya adds. Students also work on the e-zine

Around 13 students are about to finish their course and some have also found employment with newspapers. Being the best in the bunch will have its advantages. Every year, two of the most enterprising students will be considered to intern at The New York Times for between four to six months. " And if they are good enough, they'll be employed too," she informs.

Another highlight is the fact that there will be no exams at the institute, "Students are graded according to the assignments they turn in, acquired software skills, writing and editing abilities, class participation, keeping deadlines etc," Anusuya states. During the last two months of the course, students will have to turn in a masters thesis on a chosen topic.

The programme at IIJNM is autonomous, "Once you are affiliated to a particular university, you have to follow its rules, there is no freedom to function. That is why we chose to be autonomous," says Anusuya. The advisory board of the institute includes Riz Khan, anchor CNH International, author Shashi Tharoor and Barkha Dutt, reporter and anchor for NDTV.

IIJNM has also recently been awarded two international fellowships. The Knight International Fellowship and the Ford Environmental Journalism Fellowship. Senior foreign journalists will be taking up teaching assignments at IIJNM for a period of six months to a year. The regular faculty consists of experienced individuals from the profession. This is supplemented by workshops and lectures by academicians from other institutes. Visiting faculty, both national and international, spend between one and six months working with students in specific areas. They will include professors from other academic institutions such as the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

The course fee is around Rs 1,20,000, with separate charges for hostel facilities and food. Aspiring students will have to clear a written test and an interview. A bachelor's degree is a prerequisite. Admissions are on till 10' June. Log on to

Media shouldn't get carried away with green matters

THE TIMES OF INDIA APRIL 22 (Times News Network)

A. Ravindra BANGALORE: Chief Secretary A. Ravindra on Monday urged the media not to get emotionally moved while covering environment-related issues.

He was inaugurating a workshop on 'Environment and Media' jointly organised by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, Ecowatch and Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media on the occasion of 32nd World Earth Day. "With the inevitable confrontation between environment and development, environment reporters must ensure that news and events are matter-of-fact, instead of mere analyses."

Whenever there are environmentally sensitive projects 'there are three kinds of interventions - government clearance, courts and legal affairs, and the civic society such as NGOs. "Every issue must be dealt with differently since one should do the balancing act between development and environment degradation, he added.

Karnataka State Pollution Control Board chairman Upendra Tripathy said the board wished to take the state government into confidence to ensure a cleaner environment. Explaining that there has been alarming rise of suspended particulate matter (SPM) in the city's air, Tripathy said there is a daily deposit of 1145 metric tonnes of carbon.

'Regulate water': Geological Society of India c president B.P. Radhakrishna stressed on the need, for regulation of water. Addressing a seminar on 'Role of law in protecting the biosphere', organised by the National Law School of India University, he said: "The country has a variety of mineral resources, but they are grossly mismanaged without due regard for preservation and conservation." He blamed the government for bad maintenance of tanks and advised prevention of groundwater use by industrial units.

Prof D.K. Subramanyam of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) stressed on the need for a Eco- crime Act on the lines of the Cyber Crime Act. "There is an urgent need to identify the offences committed against nature such as eco-crime," he said.

'Environment scribes must not be emotionally affected'


Karnataka Chief Secretary Dr A Ravindra has appealed to journalists not to get emotionally affected while reporting issues relating to environment.

"The reporters should report the facts, and the analysis of the issue can be done separately, " he said after inaugurating a workshop on 'Environment and Media', jointly organised by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), Eco-watch and Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (llJNM), here on Monday to mark the 32nd World Earth Day celebration.

When an issue involving the environment crops up, a number of interventions appear, Ravindra said. "In the first place, it would be through the Government and the next would be through Courts. Then, there would be intervention from Non-Government Organisations (NGOs). Each intervention has to be understood in different ways and the reporters should not be emotionally moved, "he said.

The argument about a balance between environment and development is relevant in a developing country like India, Ravindra pointed out. "India was always in the forefront among developing countries, while enacting environmental laws," he said. "The industries in India always felt that the environmental laws were rigid," he added.

He said the Supreme Court directive to fit Delhi buses with CNG kits and decisions like the shifting of polluting industries from Agra and the Karnataka Government's imposition on green tax, will help reduce pollution levels. But the debate continues whether Courts or the Government should take such decisions, he noted.

While stressing on the need for self-sufficiency in agriculture production, Ravindra said emphasis is needed to contain the land degradation due to agricultural revolution. In the mid 198Os, pesticide sales all over the world was around US $20 million, which grew to an alarming US $30 billion by the end of the 1990s, he stated. Presenting a paper on 'Environmental Impact of Corruption', Prof Madhav Gadgil of Centre for Ecological Studies, Indian Institute of Science said he never agreed with the notion of bureaucrats and politicians that "in our march forward, we must agree to forego some of our trees and birds, indeed even give up our rights to clear air and water".

"Development programmes are too often attempts to create opportunities for unfair gains for those in power,"ProfGadgil said. "Pitting environment against development and suppression of public access to information are two glaring , contradictions, For pursuit of distorted development inevitably leads to waste of resources to insufficiencies in the resource use."

KSPCB Chairman Upendra Tripathy said the Board has undertaken various measures to control Pollution in the State. The Board has identified polluted lakes in Bangalore and other cities like Mysore, Dharwad, Belgaum. The Board is 'also conducting environment camps for school children, and sponsoring 53 PhD fellowships he said. KSPCB will also set up a cyber lab for children at Peenya Ecological Park, Tripathy added.

Environmentalist Suresh Heblikar said environmental issues should go beyond statistics of deforestation and pollution. A debate should take place on whether we needed this kind of development, making our own lives miserable, he added.

Pro-active steps to curb pollution

The Hindu Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Every year, 15 lakh vehicles in the State deposit over 1,145 tonnes of carbon. According to a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General, 76 percent of the State's water supply is unfit for consumption due to pollution of lakes and groundwater sources.

If these statistics reveal the appalling amount of pollution prevalent in the State and a lack of pollution-control governance by the State's administrative mechanism, the Kamataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has solutions to these ills.

"We will implement a series of measures to check pollution of all forms, including biomedical waste, and noise and air pollution to herald an environment friendly State. We will set up common waste disposal facilities in Gulbarga, Mysore and Raichur," Upendra Tripathy, KSPCB Chairman, said here on Monday.

He was speaking at a workshop on "Environment and Media" organised by the KSPCB, Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media and Suresh Heblikar's Eco- Watch which was inaugurated by A. Ravindra, Chief Secretary.

The Government's drive to reduce the use of plastic bags less than 20 microns thick is also gaining momentum. The KSPCB plans to organise ECO- ORG 2002 in December to showcase environment friendly products. Besides this, it will host a regional meet with neighbouring States to prevent the use of plastic bags less than 20 microns thick. In a significant move, security will be stepped up at check-posts to ensure that these bags are not brought into the State.

Among pro-active steps planned by the KSPCB to make the State pollution free are a GIS map and Zoning Atlas of Karnataka that would identify industry-friendly zones in areas bereft of lakes.

Incidentally, the Lake Development Authority set up this year has completed its survey of lakes in and around Bangalore. Out of the original 200 lakes in Bangalore, only 87 exist today,) according to the survey. The Chief Minister, S.M.Krishna, will release the "Survey on Lakes" on World Environment -Day in June. The survey will also cover lakes in Mysore, Gulbarga and Raichur districts.

According to an official report, Delhi and Bangalore are highly polluted cities compared to Mumbai and Kolkata due to the availability of better public transport systems in the latter. The KSPCB has floated tenders to set up seven air quality' monitoring stations. It will also set up two toll-free lines to enable the public to inform the board about government vehicles causing pollution, Mr. Tripathy said.

In order to check industrial pollution, the board plans to make ISO 140001 certification a mandatory norm for industries such as those manufacturing paper and pulp, which rely on natural resources. The ISO 140001 certification is awarded to industries that follow environment -friendly industry practices such as water and solid waste management.

The board will issue a Citizen's Charter to create awareness among citizens about their environmental rights. The KSPCB plans to rope in one-lakh students, industries, and NGOs to spread awareness on the environment.

The board will also award 53 fellowships to people pursuing research in environmental science. For further details regarding the fellowship, interested students can contact the Pollution Control Board, he added.

'Balance between environment and development vital'


Maintaining that the argument on 'environmental protection versus development' would not stop in the developing countries, Chief Secretary Dr A Ravindra exhorted the members of the journalistic fraternity not to be emotionally moved whenever they come across an environment-related movement.

Speaking at the workshop on 'Environment and Media' jointly organised by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, the Eco-Watch arid the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media here today, Dr Ravindra called on the journalists to first report facts instead of presenting an analysis on environment and related subjects. With issues pertaining to development and environmental protection running on opposite courses, the need for striking a balance between the two was becoming vital, he said.

Citing the present power crisis as an example, Dr Ravindra said if the State had to overcome this, it was not easy without submerging forests. On the other hand, the industry feels that the environmental laws were very rigid in the country he added. Even legal intervention was not far behind; he said referring to the controversy over CNG buses in Delhi and the shifting of polluting industries in Agra.

Prof Madhav Gadgil from the Centre for Ecological Sciences, while stating that environment had become the core issue in the present-day context, said, "Corruption is often the root cause of environmental destruction and unless it is checked, environmental degradation cannot be stopped", he said.

Speaking on the topic 'Environmental impacts of corruption', Prof Gadgil said: "what our political and bureaucratic masters wish to promote is not development, but wasteful expenditure of public resources. It is this waste that is the driving force behind the pattern of environmentally destructive development that is being thrust upon us."

He added: "efficiency of resource use is a key to achieving success in industrial development and such efficiency can be arrived at only on the basis of good environmental management."

Presentation on the topics 'Power, energy and environment' by Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology Secretary Prof D K Subramanyam, 'The wonderful earth' by wildlife activist M K Srinath and 'Modern problems and ancient solutions' by soil scientist Dr Raghumohan were part of the workshop.

ISO-14000 to be made mandatory for 'red category industries'


With the objective of arresting the rising pollution levels in the State, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board is all set to make it mandatory for highly polluting industries classified as the 'Red Category Industries' to obtain ISO-14000 certificates.

Speaking to reporters after inaugurating the workshop on 'Environment and media' jointly organised by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), the Eco-Watch and the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) here today), KSPCB Chairman Dr Upendra Tripathy said: "We are making it compulsory from this year for the 120 Red Category industries in the State to obtain ISO-14000 certificates. These certificates will not only save consumption of water and power by the highly polluted industries, but will also reduce disposal of waste by these industries." There are 17 Categories of highly polluting industries such as distilleries, carbon paper, iron and steel and cement in the State.

Aiding the industries in obtaining 180-14000 certificates, Dr Tripathy added, " The Board will either bear fifty per cent of the certification costs incurred by the highly polluting industries or will pay Rs 50,000 cash. This apart, the Department of Commerce will also provide financial assistance for highly polluting industries in obtaining ISO-14000 certificates.

Expressing concern over the rising levels of Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) in Bangalore, he said "even if all the vehicles plying in the City roads follow emission norms the carbon particles being deposited every day adds up to over 1,145 metric tonnes." He favoured an efficient public transport system to check the increasing pollution levels.

Referring to the menace of plastic bags, Mr Tripathy said, "the Board proposes to post its staff at check posts on borders of the State to check the entry of plastic bags." On the motive behind the move, he explained "During the recent raids on shops selling plastic bags with 20 micron thickness we learnt that these products were coming from the neighbouring states."

In a bid to encourage research, Dr Tripathy said that the Board would give fellowships to those who opt for PhD in environment and related subjects. This apart, a cyber laboratory will be opened in Peenya for children in order to enable them to surf the internet for information on environment and related subjects, he added.

Foreign Scribes To Teach at IIJNM

THE HINDU, BANGALORE APRIL 4 2002 ( Campus Jottings)

THE INDIAN institute of Journalism and Media (IIJNM), Bangalore has been awarded two prestigious international Fellowships- Knight International Fellowship and the International Center for Journalists Fellowship for Environmental Journalists. Under these Fellowships, senior journalists from abroad will take up teaching assignments at IIJNM for six months to one year to cover a variety of subjects and give hands-on training to students in area of specialization of the visiting journalist. IIJNM Dean, Abraham George, says "the visit of journalists of international repute under the fellowship program will enhance the quality of our academic programs".

Started in December 2000, the IIJNM is an institute for print and web journalism and offers a one year postgraduate diploma. The first batch of students have just graduated and completed their internship in leading news organizations, At this time of recession, when the media industry is trying to recover from a downturn, opportunities came beckoning for the students. Digital Think, a software company, picked up one of the students while another was recruited by a leading English national daily.

The curriculum has been developed in association with Graduate School of journalism, Columbia University. Based on the Columbia model, IIJNM offers specialization in reporting on politics, business, environment, international affairs, sports, and other branches of journalism. Students are trained in core skills of writing and editing.

There is emphasis on practical training and students go through reporting assignments every Tuesday and Thursday when they have to be out in the field and do stories. These are published in three lab journals; Newscribe, a weekly newspaper, the beat, a monthly magazine and an e-magazine The Students thus get hands on experience in newspaper, magazine and web journalism.

There are no exams for the IIJNM students. They are graded on the assignments they turn in, for the software skills they pick up, writing and editing abilities, classroom participation, new ideas, keeping deadlines, and published stories.

Beech Tree on a Campus

Gulf News, June 2001

A R Nirupama

We drove into the chandelier shade of a Banyan tree on Mysore Road, to have a tender coconut being carted on a ramshackle bicycle. The April noon heat was unbearable. The coconut-wallah muttered something about the ritual of pre-monsoon April showers. The uneasiness that we were perspiring sapped our interest in a conversation. But he seemed to be one of those incurable talkers: "Where are you off to in this hot sun? You don't look like tourists?" For him there could be no straight answer. Everything was expected to be in the form of a protracted narrative. He knew the culture of leisure. So, we reluctantly posed a counter question: "How far is Swamiji's international school from here?" There was a quick carve of smile on his face. The one that most often runs on a fortune-teller's visage, the smile that comes packed with a prognosis of one's destiny. "It is summer now, the school kids have gone home, so I 'm sure you are yet another visitor to the huge ship, opposite to the school, standing on the sea of red soil." That was a bit of local knowledge in rich metaphor.

The picture that we had seen on the website of the Indian Institute of Journalism ( resurfaced in our minds. We said, "yes." "Then go down the bend you see there, below the arch, and you'll stand before it in five minutes," he said. The odometer on Tarul's bike had run 23 km since we started from the center of Bangalore city. We added two more to reach IIJNM.

A beech tree stood with singular determination on the sprouting lawns of IIJNM to challenge the scorching heat of the sun. Its nascent foliage sparkled with glee. The tree was young and how much of lore we had heard about its incredible capacity to cool the heat in a traveler and infuse pure energy.

Halfway down the cobblestone pathway, two students gave us disappointing news: "Today is a Saturday, our Profs leave by 1.00pm. You have missed them narrowly." Instantly, we decided that we could speak to the two students, Narayanan and Sunirman, to get our story. "Oh sure, we can chat about the place, but first lunch. Would you mind walking across the road to our hostel?" We decided to take up the generous offer but to appear honorable we fussed a little about the jam-packed state of our stomach: "We will have something very light, just to keep our talk going." "Fine, fine," they nodded their heads, as if having seen through the emptiness of our statement (and stomach too)!

"We skipped our breakfast. We had an early morning beat reporting assignment at a nearby town called Ramanagaram. Our contacts were introducing us to the economics of silk rearing and mulberry plantations. We also wanted some inputs on the latest silk import policy. Oh those guys, silk farmers, have such native intelligence. They present their case so well. They should actually be accompanying the commerce minister on WTO rounds."

Even as Narayanan started passionately recounting the morning assignment, Sunirman impatiently changed the track of the conversation: "This Ramanagaram was where Sholay was shot. I think besides silk I have another story. Nobody in the town seems to remember the film, which put the town on the national map. But see how the Sippy's are celebrating the 25years of its creation in Mumbai. I think they are re-inventing the film for their own sake. The people have really forgotten it."

Their involvement with the stories impressed us: "Narayanan and Sunirman, for how long have you been around at IIJNM?" We asked. "Just about three months. We set sail on 22 January, that is the academic session, but the place was inaugurated on December 29." The word "sail" ticked our memory on what the coconut-vendor had said. We turned back, and yes, IIJNM stood like a ship in shades of gray. From a distance it looked like the glorious INS Vikrant at the recent Mumbai fleet review.

In the fine tradition of journalism, Narayanan and Sunirman started piling up facts about IIJNM: "This place is run by the BS&G Foundation, but the man responsible for conceiving this dream and executing it is Dr Abraham George. He is the Dean of the institution and sits in New York. But he manages to keep our Profs on their toes. You should watch the early morning spectacle his e-mails create at IIJNM. He is said to be a respected name in international finance. We met him when we began the course in January and he is due in August to lecture us on business and international politics. His inaugural address was inspiring: "If you have to perform autopsy you have to respect the dead and if you have to be a journalist you have to respect facts," he told us. Besides Dr. George, we have five core faculty members and three visiting members. All truly involved in good journalism. Ah, have you heard of our Columbia University connection? Our curriculum structure has been borrowed from the Graduate school of Journalism and has been eminently adapted into the Indian context. Hey, this is all boring to keep repeating, you should check up our website."

When we stopped walking, we were standing before a long line of food trays. "Do you people taste these many varieties each day," we asked. "Initially, we were confused, now we have learnt the art of picking and choosing. Some of our teachers feel it is a wedding meal each day. To keep our waist lines trim, we go on long walks and jogs. Where in Bangalore city can you get this idyllic atmosphere? As our classmate Vinu wrote in the Statesman recently: Our perks include a view of a fabulous sunset every evening, serene surroundings to sit and let the mind wander, solitude for the discerning writer, winged neighbors… and the rarest of them all---unpolluted air," Sunirman recounted.

Post-lunch, we trekked back to the campus. The students had promised to show us their new media laboratory. The sun was still fierce and we thought there should have been trees on the roadside. "Yeah, since we are the historic first batch, we want to plant a few saplings in the campus and the roadsides here. That's a limited way of conceiving immortality at IIJNM."

As we walked into the cool high ceilings of the IIJNM structure, what greeted us was a plain white pillar that stood beyond the depths of an amphitheatre. It suggested a strange convergence of ideas, energy and passion. Beyond that were conspicuous banana plantations that reminded one of a Latin American setting for a Marquez story.

The new media laboratory was a spacious hall; windows ran horizontally and carefully angled blinds covered them. Students had independent cubicles with Pentium 111 Dell systems. Narayanan and Sunirman told us how this was more their home than their residential apartments across the road. "It is a one-year intensive course. There is loads of pressure to complete assignments and meet deadlines. We are up till almost one in the night chatting on the Net with our mentors. We do a lot of interesting things like feed articles for our online library system; compile words for a glossary of rural reporting; work on our master's project and bring out a weekly students newsletter. Amidst all these activities we need to write e-mails back home. Honestly, there is not a dull moment. We get a feeling that we have been here for many years now."

Narayanan who had a Ferrari car as a background image on his screen opened his inbox, "supported by an always on Internet connection" and drew our attention to a mail: "Look, this is great! I was looking for Boria Majumdar's e-mail ID in the morning, he is a scholar at Oxford, working on the social history of Indian cricket. I wrote to the Outlook editor in the morning for the address, because he had won a prize in the Outlook-Picador essay contest. They sent it to me promptly. I sent a mail to Majumdar before we left for lunch, he has already responded."

We got a little curious. We asked Narayanan as to what this mail was about? "That's got to do with my master's project. I am working on the popularity of cricket portals and I had sent my synopsis to Majumdar for comments." Saying so he fixed his eyes on the mail. We knew we could not turn him around anymore. Sunirman started browsing through the "Precautious Autobiography," by an unspellable Russian author.

We knew it was time for us to leave, we walked past the huge classrooms, the soothing blue of the pillars in the new media laboratory brought about a strange calm in our minds. We had forgotten the sun outside. As we stepped out of IIJNM, the sight of the beech tree, spoke of a cool journey into the future.

The Grandeur of Vision, 22 May 2001

Niradha S S

The roller-coaster ride that began after we took a crucial turn on Mysore road (about 25 km from heart of Bangalore city), ended at a particular high point, when we stopped in front of the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media (IIJNM).

The Y-shaped building, evocative of a spread of arms in welcome, was reasserting the idyllic freshness of the countryside, which we had passed by a couple of minutes ago and were, in fact, still standing amidst. It is the quiet grandeur of IIJNM's post-modern architecture, characterized by shades of solemn gray that makes the first statement about the mission and method of the institution.

The building is a candid spread on a vast tract of land that is being reluctantly fenced. An easy contrast is available right across the road in the intimidating domes and cupolas of an international residential school that pierce the sky. "IIJNM is the vision of one man, Dr Abraham George. He lives in New York, but keeps contact with us daily and visits us twice a year. He is also the acting dean of the institution and a renowned name in international finance," says Mr. R Devdas, a senior adviser to the BS&G Foundation, which runs the institution. "We are aiming to elevate the stature of the journalism profession in India and the best way to do this is to work at the grassroots level, by imparting quality journalism education," he continues, as we walk through the aesthetic lay of cobblestones and graduate to the corridors of IIJNM, which is a labyrinth of the natural Kadapa slabs.

We stop where the labyrinth forks converge at the student and the faculty areas, only to watch an animated group of youngsters gesticulating heavily, sitting in the pit of an amphitheatre. "That's our historic first batch of students, our faculty members are lost among them for the moment. They have a Friday Forum in which they exchange views and debate critical issues related to the media, as well as those concerning the lives of people. The culture of chat and dialogue is important, you see, it cannot always take place in the defined space of a classroom. But for that matter our class-rooms are not cramped," Mr. Devdas then pulls us into a nearby classroom, which is as huge as a seminar hall. "Count the number of windows that we have, look at the amount of light and air that enters the room, does that say anything about the way we look at things and perceive them? Does that explain our philosophy?" The confident and beaming pride on Mr. Devdas's face did not expect answers from us. He continued, "Our students have assembled from all over India, the first academic session that we started in January 2001 was meant for people changing careers and mid-career journalists, but the August 2001 session that is coming up aims to attract fresh graduates. Ours is a complete residential program and the student apartments are just 100 yards down the road."

We had heard about IIJNM's Columbia connection and we asked Mr. Devdas: "Oh yes, the curriculum that we have designed is in association with the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. Ours is the only institution in India that has a formal and working association with Columbia. Professors of the school are assigned to our institute to interact with our core faculty, which itself is the cream of journalism and academic talent in India."

As if having remembered something, suddenly, Mr. Devdas says: "Oh, you should see our student area in the top floor." He gently leads us to the stairs close by. We walked passed the auditorium, reading area, a couple of classrooms and cut down our pace instinctively in front of the library, as if to pay our obeisance to the storehouse of knowledge. Mr. Devdas was quick to remark: "We are also building a sophisticated online library system. Our students are the research scholars. The journalism community in India and abroad are our regular contributors. You too can forward anything interesting that you read to Our students have independent workspaces and are all on Pentium III, with high speed 24 hour online Internet connections." Having said that he rushes with a certain teenage enthusiasm to the workspace of students and the New Media laboratory. We had to just follow suit.

A grand surprise awaited us: Neat cubicles, workstations, pinup boards, carefully angled blinds and a whole range of newspapers and magazines scattered all over the tables, coffee mugs and on one table even a neatly wrapped packet of sandwiches waiting to be eaten. And of course, the fluorescent wastepaper bin with full of chocolate trash. The air-conditioned hall and the sophisticated gadgetry would put any newsroom to shame, we thought. But, strangely, we noticed Mr. Devdas was wriggling his hands. He apologetically said: "Please don't mind a bit of chaos here, the problem is our students work till late in the night. Also, their online mentors abroad are awake when it is time for us to sleep. They have to squeeze in a lot in just a year you see?" We truly did not know how to react, but quietly stepped out.

There was a long silence until we climbed down and moved towards the faculty area. We were getting conscious of our next appointment in the city, but were feeling terribly upset about our indiscretion for allotting so little time to the place. But how should we know that IIJNM would turn out to be such a magnificent surprise? More than the issue of time, how could we cold-shoulder the enthusiasm of a 75 year-old gentleman who was so energetically showing us around the place?

We made our apologies and decided to quickly walk down the faculty area. Surprise and delight had become cliché by now. The construction of the whole area wonderfully converged with light, with knowledge alone, we thought. It seemed to emphatically suggest light at the end of the tunnel. The soothing blue on either wall was like the expanse of the sky. Mr. Devdas's question came back to our mind: "Does that explain our philosophy?"

As we walked past the faculty offices we peeped through the glass of a door, we saw a pastel work of a pensive mask hanging. "Don't worry go in, they will not mind," Mr. Devdas prodded us. The humane smile of the Buddha etched on black metal and a dancing screen-saver on the Dell Pentium III co-habited the room. Among the many files and papers that lay stacked on a designer circular table, there was a book kept supine - the memoirs of the Latin American poet-laureate and Nobel Prize winner, Pablo Neruda. Out of sheer curiosity we picked up the book and read the fluorescent marking on the page, datelined Neruda's 1950 visit to India, the early days when the nation was being built. The description was of a nuclear research centre: "…clear, bright, luminous places where men and women dressed in gauzy white circulate like running water, crossing corridors, steering their way around instruments, blackboards and tray… the visit was a purifying bath… I have a dim memory of seeing what looked like a bowl with some mercury in it. Nothing more surprising than this metal, which displays its energy like some form of animal life. Its mobility, its capacity for liquid, spherical, magical transformation, has always caught my imagination." We wondered if we had not experienced a similar energy at IIJNM.

Digital dialogue

Deccan Herald, 20 May 2001

Shweta J Pavar

'Mysore University Senate, after some discussion, turned down a proposal to introduce a course in journalism... but it is seriously open to question whether university courses in journalism are really valuable. There is a great deal more in journalism than a mere faculty in writing. All too often aspirants to the profession show a marked unwillingness to go through the mill ... to acquire grounding for the work. Rather than start at the bottom, as all the greatest newspapermen have done...'

This curious bit of news from the dog-eared pages of the 27 November 1934 edition of the Times of India, Bombay, reaches the inbox of through a very special channel. Krishna Prasad, an avid collector of journalistic trivia and Special Issues Editor of Outlook magazine, has forwarded it. Similarly, Meenal Baghel of Indian Express, New Delhi, forwards a transcript of the address delivered by war correspondent Christiane Amanpour at the Murrow Awards Ceremony: ‘I remember the day I arrived at CNN with a suitcase, my bicycle and about 100 dollars... I have spent the past ten years in just about every war zone there was... I have made my living bearing witness to some of the most horrific events of the end of the 20th century.’

Besides Krishna and Meenal, British writer Jeremy Seabrook, Washington correspondent of the Times of India Chidananda Rajghatta, media critic Sevanti Ninan, linguist S N Sridhar of the New York State University, Indologist Robert Zydenbos of the Munich University, Paul O Muiri of the Irish Times, Sreenath Sreenivasan of the Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University and a host of other well-known journalists and academicians are in regular touch with the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) through its amazing online library network.

The online library system is an ambitious project that the students and faculty at the IIJNM have taken up since February 2001 and there are already 2000 articles sorted and archived in their database. It is a project, which aims to support on the intranet, the physical library of the institution and also, a couple of years later, a journalist in any newsroom across the globe through the internet.
"The project was initiated by our Dean, Dr George Abraham, last August. We took it up seriously when our infrastructure was ready and moved to our Kumbalgudu campus in mid-January” said Prof Narayana and Prof Subhash Rai, who work as editors on the online library system, besides teaching at IIJNM.

"As journalists in Indian newsrooms, we had always felt the need for a systematic storehouse of information. We had also wondered how to make information easily available for a conscientious reporter or sub-editor at his desk. We have all faced the problem of being inundated by dusty clippings file. Internet tools seem to have solved the problem. What we are trying to develop could be a ready reference base for any journalist, anywhere in the world," Narayana explains. “We are not trying to create an encyclopedia on the net. It is a database that we are trying to create with the media professional in mind. Probably, one could call it an encyclopedia of news. Having been journalists for so long, I think we know what exactly one needs while reporting even the simplest of stories that gets buried at the bottom of page three."

Rai, who has invested his technical skills in the project, said: "My colleague Girish Bhadri has created an uncomplicated browsing design for the library, but we are working on an innovative search engine. Each of our students have a Pentium 3 with an always-on Net connection, this helps them delve into cyberspace for useful information."

Creating a network of contributors to the library was the toughest job for the editors, which they innovatively solved by appointing their students as research scholars and relying on the contacts of their senior colleagues.

"Students are our real assets. At any given time after August 2001, when our second entry point recruitment is finalized, we will have around 40 of them on the campus. Even if the students send across two articles each day we will have 80 articles to select from. Our present batch of students did a brilliant job recently by compiling a dossier on the expose. All the important articles printed on the armsgate controversy in the world media are stored in our media section. Similarly they are compiling a dossier on the recent stock market scam," he added.

The online library concentrates on all elements that constitute classical journalism. Therefore the collection will include well-written obituaries for significant public personalities -- they have added the ones on ‘Busybee’ Behram Contractor, profiles, and interesting ‘letters to the editor’. The Times of India brought out a very interesting volume of ‘letters to the editor’ to celebrate their sesquicentennial year. On the whole, the contents of the online library are a certain reinvestment of faith in public service journalism. They are striving hard to create a parliamentary and assembly poll database and a database on major calamities.

Since IIJNM maintains a new media focus, the online library project is also seen as an extension of the core courses of computer-aided reporting and new media issues. Besides this project, IIJNM also plans to take up many digital projects in the future that will serve the media community. It is committed to improving the quality and stature of journalism in India and will work at the grassroots level to systematically induce an academic rigour in handling information within the newsroom.

Selection of media reports on the Investigative Journalism workshop:

Baat-cheet with Bahl The Statesman 30 May 2001

Sunirman Ray and Narayanan Somasundaram report on the recent workshop on investigative journalism organised by the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media.

A tall man stood unassumingly dressed in cargo pants and checked shirt. His smile had a strange magnetism. It pulled us towards him and the next moment we found ourselves shaking hands with him. This was our first encounter with Aniruddha Bahl, prime investigator in the Tehelka armsgate expose that shook the nation from its deep slumber. He was in Bangalore to participate in a workshop on investigative journalism organised by the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media for the media community.

Post-Tehelka, we, students of journalism have realised that the career we have chosen is exciting. It holds the prospect of an ordinary reporter turning into a hero almost overnight. So by 9 a.m. sharp we reached the venue, excited about the days proceedings. Besides us, there were quite a few young reporters and senior editors who sat sprinkled among the audience.

"Tehelka has become a generic term, a verbal noun, in the Indian context today. Their investigation only demonstrates the rigors of journalism and its inherent capacity to serve the cause of the public. Tehelka has happened at a historic moment when the central institutions of formal democracy seem tired, and even archaic," declared Sugata Srinivasaraju of IIJNM, setting the tone for the deliberations.

Bahl himself recalled how a woman construction worker was overheard telling another that Tehelka has invented a machine that will catch the corrupt. In Bihar, he said, an irate bus passenger threatened to inform Tehelka if he did not get his change back. Bahl admitted: “Being recognised by the people at the lowest rung of the society was my greatest moment."

The footnotes and trivia of the historic Tehelka investigation was something that added an exciting dimension to Bahl’s narrative. Their phones were tapped, movements were monitored, sources were interrogated, and once in October last year, the CBI even came knocking at the door of Bahl’s Falstaffian deputy, Mathew Samuel. Lucky for Samuel, his wit helped him out. He was questioned about his contact with a senior army officer. Pat came the reply, "We play football together." This left the CBI speechless. Bahl attributed the success of the operation to Mathew’s tactics and his connections in the top brass of the government.

Speaking of the essential qualities of an investigative journalist, Bahl said: "It's important to have a nose for investigation... to be able to extract information out of a person who his unwilling to talk...".

He also spoke of the right attitude and courage that a reporter needed to have. What about the resources? spent Rs 15 lakh on Operation West End. How many editors are prepared to spend that kind of money on investigations? Bahl’s answer was: "You should be able to convince your editor. It’s very important that an editor develops trust in his reporter".

For those who had figured out by then that they did not possess these qualities, the only consolation was the belief in luck. "Luck is the X factor that helped us in this investigation. Superstition also played a role - a ten rupee note, which remained under a Ganesha idol (given by Bahl’s mother) in the office, still remains there."

We were curious to know more about the equipment that were used for the operation. No, Bahl would not tell us about it. "I cannot let my team down". An important question was raised as four panelists took over the dais from Bahl. Was the Tehelka expose investigative journalism at all? A Jayaram, special correspondent of The Hindu said it was "entrapment journalism," as veteran journalist MV Kamath had dubbed it. The Bhagalpur blinding case, Bofors kickbacks, stock market scam in 1992 and even the cricket betting scandal had elements of investigative journalism in it. "What Tehelka did was to entice leaders and officials with a bribe. Tehelka created a scam. It did not expose one," was his firm opinion.

The audience for their part added to the drama by chipping in some views of their own. “So what if it is enticement or entrapment? It still proved how vulnerable and corrupt people in responsible positions are in India," remarked a student of IIJNM.

Then came the ethical question. Dr Narendra Pani, senior editor of The Economic Times said, in the Tehelka case, for the first time, the integrity of the people involved in the investigation has been questioned. It is also for the first time that the expose has come to be known by the name of the publication rather than the scandal itself. This, according to Dr Pani, could be the trend for future exposes. AVS Namboodiri, senior assistant editor of Deccan Herald, and Ravindra Reshme of the Kannada weekly, Lankesh Patrike, disputed the argument that privacy of the people have been invaded in the Tehelka expose. The investigation did not invade the private life of any individual, but was only concerned with the public life of the persons involved, they said. However, Reshme was of the view that a journalist must refrain from creating scandals and quoted profusely from his 21 years of experience as an investigative journalist, which at one point even led to the fall of the Ramakrishna Hegde government in Karnataka. The ideas of Krishna Prasad, special issues editor of Outlook, who lent academic support to the workshop, reminded us of a line from a Tagore poem - "we search for something all across the world when it lies at our very doorstep".

Prasad, best known as one of the two journalists who broke the cricket match-fixing scandal talked about the possible scams that could be busted: drugs in sports (including cricket), durability of new cars, industrial pollution, aviation safety, the sudden spurt in caesarean births and so on. We left the workshop with a reply in the affirmative to - "Why shouldn't a journalist don the mantle of a thief to nab a thief in the interests of the public?"

Tehelka man, Bahal, throws more light on scam

The Asian Age, 13 May 2001

Aniruddha Bahal, who played a key role in the defence expose by, said in Bangalore on Saturday that a "prominent political leader" could not be implicated because of the absence of audio recording in the tapes used for the expose, unlike former BJP president Bangaru Laxman.

Mr Bahal also felt that the defence deals should have been ideally exposed by the Intelligence Bureau or the Central Bureau of Investigation.

"The CBI has been politicised and senior officers of the bureau are dancing to the tunes of their political masters. It takes lot of courage to say no to political bosses," Mr Bahal said, while referring to the "Yes minister" attitude among bureaucrats.

He was critical of the "archaic" Official Secrets Act and said the right to information was necessary without which no society could progress.

Aniruddha Bahal & Krishna Prasad taking questions at the workshop Mr Bahal was speaking at a media workshop on investigative journalism on Saturday. The workshop was organised by the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media. Mr Bahal has refused to avail the security provided by the Union government. He however said he perceived a threat to his life from some quarters adding there were chances of him being killed in a couple of months. He however did not elaborate.

Mr Bahal also said his moves and those of the chief executive officer of Tarun Tejpal Were being closely watched by the intelligence agencies. 

Recalling Operation West End, Mr Bahal said: "The biggest challenge faced by the Tehelka team was ensuring that the Intelligence Bureau did not know about our operations."

"The Tehelka team has spent around Rs 15 lakh for bribing and entertaining several prominent persons over a period of ten months to secure the needed information," he said.

Special issues editor of Outlook Krishna Prasad, who was also present on the occasion said there were several grave issues related to science, public health, the automobile industry and sports which also should be the subject of investigation.

IB was biggest hurdle in operation: Tehelka scribe


“Our phones were tapped, our movements were monitored, our sources were interrogated, but we did not give up till we achieved what we wanted. The biggest challenge of the Tehelka team during the sting operation was not the investigation itself but escaping the hawk’s eye of the Intelligence Bureau,” investigative editor of Aniruddha Bahal said here Saturday.

A panel discussion on Handling a Scandal Speaking at a workshop organised by the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Mr Bahal said that the Intelligence Bureau was always breathing down the neck of Tehelka investigators.

“We were always in the paranoia of being caught but luck was with us and everything went on well,” he said offering a blow-by-blow account of the sting operation. The officials of Intelligence Bureau gave ‘unnecessary trouble’ to Mr Mathew who was posing as a defence dealer in the sting operation. They even bothered Mathew’s family in Kerala, he said. In fact, the whole operation was carried out over pre-paid mobile phone cards in order to evade the IB, he added.

There were quite a few loopholes in the investigation but all went off well in the end, he recalled.
The IB even tried to fix the Tehelka investigative team in controversies but was not successful, he said.
When Tarun Tejpal, the editor of, tried to meet Hindujas in London in connection with content for one of their web sites, the IB tried to spread the news that Tehelka has links with Hindujas, he narrated in his account of the sting operation.

The inside story

The Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media maintains a delicate balance between academic rigour and practical experience. Vinu Syriac and Chitra Bonam report from Bangalore.

Our first sight of the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) was unforgettable. The road meandered up and down several hillocks. Suddenly the sight of a ship on ground struck us. Well, that’s how the IIJNM building is designed. Like a ship. Painted in shades of gray. We set sail in the last week of January 2001 and hope to reach our destination by the final week of December 2001.

Situated in the outskirts of Bangalore, the institute “aims to achieve excellence in journalism,” says Dr Abraham M George, the Dean. Lofty words, but we feel IIJNM has taken steps in the right direction. The IIJNM is different.

Okay friends... we can almost hear you yawning. But just hear us out, will you?

The curriculum here is unique... there are absolutely no exams. Aha! Caught you, didn’t we? We are graded on the assignments we turn in, for the software skills we pick up, writing and editing abilities, classroom participation, new ideas, keeping deadlines and publications among others. The grading is a year-long process with the faculty entering the grades each week.

The institute works in close association with the Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University at New York. Now, we hear of such associations and collaborations every day... so naturally we were apprehensive. Later, when we checked out the web sites of the Columbia University and IIJNM, the first thing that struck us was the logos. They were similar. Columbia had not just approved the syllabus; it had also permitted a similar logo. We were impressed.

Our faculty is quite experienced. From the very first day we were asked to address them by their first names. Rather embarrassing for us, but that’s the sacrifice we had to make in order to get a Columbia-level education.

More than teachers they are ‘facilitators’. They say they pamper us because we are the first batch. Of course, we stoutly deny any such thing! The process of learning here is not limited to the classroom. Our understanding of the reporting and writing classes is put to the test through the beat reporting assignments. Tuesdays and Thursdays are the beat reporting days when we are out in the field to do stories. Sometimes we are sent to the city and at other times we report on our neighbourhood communities.

It’s through beat reporting that we first felt the power of journalism. It’s not just politicians, businessmen, religious heads and editors of newspapers or the CEOs of dotcoms who are willing to speak to us but we also have the opportunity to speak and interact with those who live in the surrounding villages. Beat reporting also sharpens our eye for stories. It’s become such a habit that even when we go shopping, we end up thinking about possible stories that we could do!

An individual study area with imported computers (no desi assembled stuff for us please!) airy classrooms and spacious hostel rooms are our rights. By December we should be well acquainted with software packages such as Pagemaker, Photoshop and QuarkXpress among others. A 24-hour Internet connection and a Pentium III computer for each student makes it convenient to float in cyberspace.

Our perks include a view of a fabulous sunset every evening, serene surroundings to sit and let the mind wander, solitude for the discerning writer, winged neighbours who are an ornithologist’s delight and the rarest of them all — unpolluted air.

Almost every week we have a distinguished guest either from Bangalore or outside. Our visitor’s book has distinguished names like Barbara Crossette of The New York Times; Shekhar Gupta, the editor-in-chief of The Indian Express; Ravindra Kumar, the managing editor of The Statesman; celebrated British writer Jeremy Seabrook; media consultant Derek Cooper; Chidananda Rajghatta, the Washington Correspondent of the Indian Express and Indologist Robert Zydenbos among others.

The first batch of IIJNMs have come in from different parts of the country. From Durgapur in West Bengal to Horsley Hills in Andhra Pradesh, Gandhinagar in Gujarat to Madurai in Tamil Nadu. For us IIJNM is a melting pot of varied backgrounds. We are learning about each other as we learn journalism together. IIJNM has New Media as its core course component. The course teaches us to get comfortable with technology, how to look for reliable information quickly and also to present news in the best manner on the Web. We presume New Media is the way everybody is headed.

A definite advantage IIJNM has over other institutes is its policy of admission. It has a dual entry point — one in January and the other in August. A graduate of any stream can apply and age is no bar. Thus we have a 20-year-old Arts graduate sharing classes with a 30-year-old civil engineer. All that’s required is a good command over the English language and an urge to express oneself through writing.

Our other activities include maintaining an online library, a fine database of articles and references. Even as graduate students we are listed as research scholars in the credits section of the online library.

Every Friday we gather in our open-air amphitheatre and debate over a current topic. We have christened it the “Amphi-Adda” and it’s easily the most eagerly awaited event each week. In a way, these are informal group discussions. We, the students, decide the topics to be discussed. Here we’ve discussed about everything from banning national movie awards to beauty pageants to celebrity participation in social causes. We work on our Master’ s project throughout the year and have mentors who are among the top guns in the media in India.

IIJNM is setting a precedent by trying to maintain a delicate balance between academic rigour and practical experience. At the same time, we are also introduced to the idea of journalists having the right attitude — the drive to know and the attitude to question everything. Sometimes this is more important than one’s writing skill. The result is we should not be just journalists but complete writers. To what extent this will be successful will be reflected in its students. And you evaluate us. Keep these names in mind... you’ll definitely hear about us again


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