Outdated journalism course still being taught at AIOU
ISLAMABAD: Humayun, a student of journalism at the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), visited the printing press of a newspaper and was taken aback to know that his course of study did not contain any topic on the process of newspaper printing.
When he brought the matter to the notice of his teacher, the latter said as long as the course was not reviewed by the management students had to study the same book.
The teacher tried to pacify the student by saying there is always a difference between education we get and practical work in a profession.
“On page 125 of our book, it is mentioned that there are 35 to 75 ‘Katibs’ in every newspaper and they rewrite the news stories.
During the visit to the newspaper we were, however, told that the Katibs used to work in the newspapers during the 1950s and 1960s who rewrote the news on a transparent paper (transparencies) which were then used for printing the newspapers,” Humayun said.
It is pertinent to mention that Katibs were an essential part of newspapers till 1980s but in the 90s they were replaced by computer operators.
“We also learnt that by the end of the 20th century, the number of computer operators (composers) in newspapers was also reduced because reporters themselves started composing news stories,” he said.
The journalism textbook of master’s level course at the AIOU still teaches students things that have become obsolete with the advancement in technology.
For instance, on page 104 of the book it is mentioned that art editors ‘paste’ news headlines.
But this is now being done by the layout staff on computers.
Art editors were those who used to make a model newspaper by getting news printed on tracing papers and then sending them for printing.
On page 110, it is stated that there is a proof reading section in every newspaper. But once again, in most of the newspapers proof reading is now done at the time of editing a story on computers.
Besides, some software also corrects spelling mistakes automatically.
In the 60s and 70s, Katibs used to rewrite news on transparencies before sending them to the proofreaders to avoid any mistake.
Munir, another student, said on page 125 of his journalism book it is stated that a photography department is also very important section of a newspaper because it develops ‘positives’ of pictures, cartoons, advertisements and other things.
“We were informed that there is a ‘darkroom’ in the photography department in which pictures are developed. But now we have come to know that all these things can be done on a computer as new cameras do not need film roles,” he said.“
Out teachers taught us that newspaper correspondents sent their reports by post. But now everyone knows that email is widely used for this purpose,” he said.
A teacher of the university, who did not want to be identified, said the journalism book in question was written about 26 years ago.
“The book was relevant in the 1980s. Due to the advancement in technology, the process of printing has changed. The textbook should be revised because we are providing our students useless information that has no practical use,” he said.
“I contacted the dean of Mass Communication Department and pointed this issue out. Books should be revised every three to five years and students should be taught those things which can be beneficial to them,” he said.
Head of the Mass Communication Department Dr Syed Abdul Siraj said he had already suggested to the management to revise the books because so many things had changed now.
“We have highly educated teachers who can cover all these issues during teaching. However, in the revised edition, online journalism and electronic media will also be included,” he said.
Bashir Chaudhry, the registrar of the university, told Dawn that he cannot believe that outdated information was being given to students.
“I will check it personally and then will request the vice chancellor to order immediate revision of the course. The executive council of the university has decided to establish an institute of mass communication on the campus. I will make sure that students are educated about current and advanced issues,” he said.