- NL Sena
‘Most job leads have dried up.’
The coronavirus pandemic has crippled economies the world over. And, like any other industry, the media has been profoundly affected. In India, major media houses have already , while some have .
This has created a sense of insecurity among journalism students who are looking for a place in the industry.
Across the country, journalism schools organise recruitment drives for media organisations to hire their graduates. Many students depend on such drives to secure employment. This year, the lockdown has led to the cancellation of placement drives, leaving thousands of students who have graduated or are about to complete their courses worried.
“It all just happened in a flash, we were asked to pack our bags and sent home. This is the last thing we needed,” said Abhimanyu Hazariya from the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai. “I can deal with this, but I know a lot of batchmates who are under an incredible amount of stress since we all wanted to start our lives with some security after graduating. And now, everything is so uncertain.”
Varun Mennon, a final year student of audio visual media at Symbiosis, Pune, said, “It was already tough to get into media production and this crisis has only made it worse. Even earlier, the job offers we got during college placements were either internships or basic roles which weren’t with what we were looking for.”
Students and teachers from several colleges told Newslaundry that campus recruitment has been deferred indefinitely. The ACJ is unlikely to host a placement drive until mid May at least. The Indian Institute of Mass Communication is keeping their placement cell active over a Google group but have not secured any job offers yet. The media organisations they have contacted have not responded or have few positions open for graduating students.
“There’s not one person that can definitively say what is going to happen,” said Varun. “The placement cell is active but the number of jobs out there is not entirely in their control. Most of the leads have dried up.”
‘Print media was already dying’
The ongoing lockdown has been disastrous for the print media industry. As the demand for newspapers has dried up, advertisers have pulled their spending, the main source of revenue for the print media. Given the scale of the crisis, it is unlikely that many job opportunities would open up for young job seekers.
Tanishka Sodhi, a print media student at the ACJ, said she is stressed because of the job crisis. “Over the past few years, placements for our college have become a little tougher, especially in print media because there are lesser job opportunities in the field. And then, the pandemic happened. There is next to no hope for us to secure a well-paying job. It’s as if our lives have been paused.”
Underpaid jobs or unsuitable roles
The few students who have received job offers in recent weeks said they aren’t satisfied with what they have been offered.
“I think I have been luckier than most because I got more offers after the coronavirus outbreak than before,” Ishaan, a media student at Symbiosis, said. However, they are roles that he doesn’t “wish to sign up for” or “pay too less”.
He added, “One of those opportunities was turned from a fulltime job to an internship due to the economic loss that the media outlet experienced.”
Can colleges help in other ways?
What can the colleges do to help their students cope with the pressure and anxiety in these tough times?
Newslaundry spoke to Babli Moitra Saraf, head of Multimedia and Mass Communication at the Delhi University’s Indraprastha College for Women, about the ways in which colleges can help address the issue.
“I’m very cognizant of the fact that there is a sense of anxiety among our students that there are not enough job opportunities for the graduating classes, not just in the media but in all the streams due to this looming economic crisis,” she said. “I think the best thing that I can offer as an educator, and as someone who has the opportunity to touch so many lives, is to mitigate the pressure my students may feel and to offer my emotional support.”
Saraf said she has implemented various measures in her college to mitigate the anxiety of her students. “We have our teachers on standby at all times, so they can help the students with anything,” she explained. “We have also shifted our counseling centre online so that our students have someone to reach out to if they need help grappling with their emotions in these bleak times.”
Surbhi Dahiya, course director of English journalism at the IIMC, Delhi, has a different view. The economic fallout of the pandemic will indeed adversely affect the Indian media, she argued, but only in the short run.
“The Indian media kept going even during the 2008 recession and managed to make profits,” she said. “Although the Covid-19 crisis has affected all aspects of our lives, including the media, I believe once we recover from this crisis, Indian media will pull through.”