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Making Media Education & Training Truly Affordable and Relatable

Shooting straight from the heart...

Event: 'Dynamic nature of Media Platforms' organized by Callidus Academy, Pune Day & Date: Saturday, 18 June at Patrakar Bhawan, Pune

He made the house roar with laughter with each of his anecdotes...and today his every single turn of phrase and line would have given any stand-up comedian a hard run for their money. Vijay Gaikwad introduced himself as a trained foundryman who accidentally ventured into journalism at 45. A brief counseling session with Pankaj Ingole, one of the founder-directors of Callidus Media & Arts Academy, Pune, four years ago convinced him to try his hand at journalism.

Narrating in an inimitable rustic style, Vijay said that after patiently going through the marketing pitch by Pankaj on how the KFC founder or Abraham Lincon achieved success in their forties, he was still not convinced and not sure if he wanted to invest in such a course. Pankaj then assured him that he could pay the full amount only after the completion of the program. That too, only if he was fully satisfied and placed. But giving it a funny twist, Vijay was quick to add that in that case, he would have to pay an extra thousand bucks.

Vijay was one amongst a few other star alumni who were felicitated at the event 'Callidus Samwad' and who found their true calling after studying at Callidus, Pune. The long list of alumni boasts of anchors and reporters now working at all of the leading news channels and publications. Shivani Pandhare (ABP Maza), Prarthana Vyavhare (Successful Blogger), Shrishti Kashyap (Intern Zee News), Asim Kagdi, and Samir Jadhav (PR for Rohit Pawar, NCP) to name just a few.

Media-bashing is a given in any function

Taking the entertainment quotient a notch up, one of the chief guests, the firebrand speaker, and Editor at Lokmat, Sanjay Awate, a.k.a 'Swami Sanjayanand' on FB, did not mince words while commenting upon today's state of politically motivated journalism. He praised Pankaj and Poonam Ingole for giving 'voice to the voiceless', i.e., media aspirants coming to the city from rural areas and far-flung districts in search of quality media education.

He cited how the then US Presidential candidate John McCain had belittled Barrack Hussein Obama in one of his speeches by questioning 'Can 'anybody' become the US president ?'. To which, Obama had profoundly replied that 'the beauty of the nation was, yes-anybody can dream and become the president here,' and won the hearts of millions with simplicity. The point was, back then journalists had warned that Obama will not win the elections, but history decided otherwise. So, let not just a handful of elite journalists decide what's right for the audience. It's time to break the hegemony and Callidus is doing just that. The right way.

Today's Media and the Magic Multiplier Effect

That's what we commonly refer to as something going viral in today's parlance. Sanjay said that to be successful, one needs to be 'as curious as a cat' about everything going around. One needs to be really 'nosey' as well and not just sit content and mind their own business. Most importantly, one should constantly be hungry for some sensible dialogue. The metaphor of a cat, he said, is attributed to the versatile playwright Vijay Tendulkar. Just like a cat, we should dip our mouths in every vessel. Lastly, find out how good a storyteller do you think you are? Because that's what is going to create bonds with your listeners.

Learning to Play with the Media Monster

Speaking about Dr.Kavita Rane, (Anchor ABP Maza) one of the guest panelists, who could not attend the event, Sanjay said back then she went to Rajasthan to work with an NGO in the education sector leaving behind a cushy job at ABP...This gives us some idea about the vast scope of the opportunities in the media landscape. So also, media aspirants should aim for the various Communication Consultant jobs at the UN agencies and international forums.

Running a Youtube Channel is sweat and blood

Adding a dash of glamour as a panelist for the event, was the successful YouTuber Harshada Swakul. Making a decision to leave a booming career at ABP as an anchor and join her engineer husband in faraway Australia was the toughest part, so she thought, that is until she started working on her own youtube channel.

Her initial research took her to the kitchens of Subway, where she learned to make sandwiches and earn a side income just the way she did some freelancing with UberEats delivering food at homes. Her rationale: nothing comes readymade on a platter. You have got to learn the hard way. It is this kind of experience that gives you the strength to express yourself. So, always have a parallel source of income before diving headlong.

My perspective is my content

Talking about creating meaningful and relatable content, Harshada said she had to carry out research on the ongoing debate surrounding equal rights law for about 2.5 weeks to create that video. It's easy to get millions of views on hateful content. But, the new media has given us the power to make the change. Citing another interesting anecdote, she said she had made a video on how ginger was being sold for fifty times the existing price in India at some point. Soon she was inundated with requests from farmers from Maharashtra on how can they export their ginger produce to Australia. This prompted her to do some more fact-finding on the export policy and get back to her followers. She added that information can be shared simply and problems are the same across the globe.

'Sant Vaangmay'or the Saint Literature as a 'Treasure Trove' of Content

Shrirang Gaikwad, Editor-Gyanba Tukaram, was the 'been there done that' guy on the lively panel. From working as a security guard to being a daily wage earner and teaching at clock hour basis, Shrirang did all kinds of odd jobs to support his family and went on to complete his Ph.D. Talking about the richness of content, he pointed to the immortal poetry of saint Janabai and others of her ilk, which continues to add meaning to our lives even after 700 years.

All are sharks in a media pond

On Training rural students, Pankaj admitted that he looks for passion. Many people come with the notion of acquiring some sort of media power. "We do not encourage such an approach. Language is diverse and so we have to go the extra mile to accommodate them all. We believe it's important to take sides. But at the same time, people want your opinion. They are tired of bytes after bytes of sparring politicians," he said.

Sanjay reminisced that several years back, the legendary activist P Sainath, who then worked in ToI, was sneered at for taking up agriculture and rural development as story subjects. However, unfazed Sainath retorted back to the person in authority, "When have you last met your readers to tell me what they would like to read?"

It's time budding journalists should take a leaf from experimental forms of journalistic expressions such as Indie Journal, Bai manus, Think Tank, and Bolbhidu.

The time has come, for us all to speak with passion, they all opined. @PankajIngole @SanjayAwate @HarshadaSwakool #journalism #journalismacademy #journalisminstitute @lokmat #mediaeducation #mediaeducationinpune

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