Industry experts have stressed on the need for going beyond talent for television news media while speaking on the topic ‘Need for Talent in the Biggest Medium – Television’ at the IMPACT Careers 360 Conference. The session was moderated by Ajit Sahi, Editor-at-Large, Tehelka, while the panellists included Anuradha Sen Gupta, Ex-Features Editor, CNBC TV18; Ravi Mohan Khanna, Author/Analyst and Former South Asia Bureau Chief, VOA; Somnath Sen, Associate VP, WWI; Ashok Ogra, Director, Apeejay Media School; and Mehraj Dube, Anchor and Associate Editor, NDTV.
Gupta noted that earlier there were only a handful of media institutes that were involved in training and educating new talent; today, that number has increased 10-fold. “We have managed to create an assembly line of pool of good people, but the need of the hour is for original creative thinking,” she said. She further said that media schools are not giving the power and sense of ‘ideation’ to students. “Talent in the media agency needs to be focused on ideas, rather than skills, at the moment, which is already present,” she appended.
Is glamour and power the only two things that highlight the aura of television media? Gupta felt that while television media needs ideation rather than skills, the competitive edge as per the industry is all about putting one’s skills forward and learning ideation on the job. “Shouldn’t a journalist be skilled as well as creative?” asked Sahi, while putting a point forward that journalism has the least penny in the start, which has now grown in the country. “Why is it then that the Indian media still looking to the West?” he wondered.
Having had an experience of the foreign media, Khanna remarked that content is not as good as it should be in the country, the reason being that people have the herd mentality. Citing an example, he stated that when a single TV channel starts start promoting an exclusive story or a product, others do the same and eventually harm the equity of that product. “There is no perspective; the same anchors do the top show host and the anchoring as well. Reporters are pushed down below, and there is a certain kind of connivance of the editors in doing that,” he said. Khanna also pointed out that music playing during the airing of a news report has become a “drama”. “News is reality, not a drama,” he maintained.
The crux of the initial discussion was that money making is not everything; credibility making should be the focus. The aim should be training the reporters better and become empowered within the news channels.
Bringing up the subject of remuneration, Ogra said that HT had a news article which said that Delhi University is taking in 95,000 students instead of the aspect that the cut-off marks are high. “These students, who have the scores and achieved the highest degrees and numbers, would eventually want a high paying job in the media as they move out of their colleges. Nowadays, one sees institutes operating out of DDA flats; another problem is that of the role of the teacher, there should be a role reversal,” he said. Orga appended that ideas should be generated in the labs of the institute, while innovations should happen at the cross-roads of different disciplines.
According to Dube, one needs to separate products and people. “Talent management is not being done in a proper manner, which is the need of the hour. Most of the industry is cutting costs and merely surviving in the market. There is a bigger side to education, and talent management should be done scientifically,” he added.
The speakers also agreed that the ‘nobility’ factor is gone from the business of journalism and media. There used to be a pride in the industry and an authority. Nowadays, everything is sold on just glamour. Also, due to this whole non-nobility factor in the industry, Sahi argued, one cannot survive in the media industry for 20 minutes if he/she has earned the displeasure of the bosses.
Meanwhile, Sen pointed out that the new generation is the digital generation. This is the visual generation and wants to be taught when they want to be and what they want to be. One should tell the students to innovate and create the future that they themselves are going to be using, living and consuming. “We should look at students as ‘educatees’ and help them think beyond the aspect that institutions would just act as means to the end for getting a job,” he said.
The panel also threw light on how to categorise talent and what are the basic need-gaps in the industry when it comes to television media. Citing a KPMG report, the experts said that 70-75 per cent of people are not trained in their core competency, but it is not because they are not talented. “We are moving into an era of content creators and generators, and the jobs have changed their profile of being ‘blue collared’, rather journalism should be taken as a profession with immense power, which is priceless,” the experts added.
The IMPACT Careers 360 Conference on Future of Talent in Media and Mass Communication Industry was presented by Zee Entertainment and Vasudhava Kutumbakam, powered by Alchemist, which also unveiled India’s Best M-School Rankings 2013, a first by the exchange4media Group and aimed at bringing a sense to the battle for talent in the media industry.