To inform, educate and entertain. But also, to question, generate debate, initiate a dialogue. These essential elements make for good storytelling and strong narration, whether it is in a factual 52-minute documentary, a 20-second short, a 300-word news-story, an amateur podcast or a 2000-word specialized, portentous opinion article.
At Ashoka’s Media Studies Department, we teach students how to be responsible and creative in their media making. Our work centres around applying an analytical framework to various communication media (language, audience, representation and context) which is taught through discussion, practice, analysis and debate. Students also develop a range of technical skills required for both constructing and deconstructing media products. The faculty and students study how media technologies tell stories, entertain mass audiences, and educate citizens of the world. We study the media's strengths and abuses. We cultivate an appreciation of the media's special role for citizens and professional media makers working across a spectrum of cultures and political systems. We nurture a universal desire for free and responsible expression.
Global media has seen monumental changes in the last three decades. From old fashioned, even staid, print and broadcast journalism to multimedia, digital storytelling, the spawning of social media and self-styled ‘citizen’ journalists, and thence to virtual reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence. With AI taking over entire newsrooms, the media industry has been transformed - upended and revolutionized in many ways. Production is lean and consumption is on demand. News cycles have exploded, citizen journalism has blurred the lines, digital amplification of disinformation and 'fake’ news has muddied the pond and given a new urgency to the perennial question, what is “good” media? Media has acquired a different meaning and pace.
The Media Studies minor focuses on preparing students and aspiring journalists with a comprehensive understanding of how different layers of the media function in contemporary times. The various courses arm students with rich theoretical knowledge of media processes, an understanding of media history, and the simultaneous application of that knowledge to practical situations on the ground.
Through lectures, field trips, discussions, writing and documentary projects we train students to understand how media ethics, law, context and history play a role in the final media output, whether it's a written, aural or visually driven news report, a feature film, or a social media story. These exercises are vital to understanding how the media functions and how it both reflects and influences change in taste, behaviour and social attitudes. Courses in news reporting and writing, photography, documentary filmmaking, broadcast, and data journalism, ethics, media law, communication theory, or conflict reporting, to name just a few, provide a window to students who aspire to be leading journalists in our uncertain and troubled times.
Our courses in production replicate actual newsrooms. Through a well-equipped Media Lab run by television professionals, students gain hands-on experience of working with audio-visual equipment and learn their craft in “live” broadcast conditions. Our courses in understanding cinema contribute to the growing multi-disciplinary spirit of Liberal Arts at Ashoka University. The minor programme in Media and Film Studies, engages with a rapidly changing global media landscape and prepares students for careers in media, academia, and for work at cultural institutions. The programme invites students enthused about learning why media products are positioned the way they are, the interests they serve, the history behind these rich forms, and how to effectively create these media products themselves.