Difference between Mass Communication and Journalism: A detailed analysis

Would you like to begin by doing a mind exercise? Take a few seconds and think about your daily routine. You wake up in the morning, do the chores, check your mobile phone for messages, scrolls down through social media news feeds, and some of us still stick on to the habit of reading a newspaper. On the way to college, you might listen to the radio or music on your phone. Some might tune in to TV channels for news and entertainment. We cross innumerous billboards, posters, and videos of ads. Every day, we interact with content in various forms. I guess this retrospection is more than enough to realize how much the magnificent world of media has succeeded in taking over our lives.

Then comes the significant question – how to build a successful career with the media and become a part of this boom? Most of the career advice you receive for this question would be to do a course in ‘mass communication and journalism’. How does this course help? Are ‘mass communication’ and ‘journalism’ two interchangeable terms or are they only used in combination? It is time to bust some myths.

What is in a mass communication degree?

Before we dive in to the academic prospects of mass communication, it is important to understand what the term means. Mass communication, in the simplest terms, is the process of communicating with the masses. Anything and everything that involves reaching out to a large number of people comes under the umbrella term of mass communication. It could be advertising, public relations, media practices, film making, entertainment industry or social media management. 

Hence, mass communication students are trained to interact with various media platforms to create and manage the content that goes out to the masses. Students who study mass communication as a bachelors or masters course gets to experiment with news and entertainment content in TV, radio, print media, and digital media. They also earn a chance to practice advertising and public relations campaigns, and can thus identify their genuine interest and stronghold. 

Mass communication courses in India

Many colleges and universities provide Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in mass communication. Some courses are purely practice-based, and some involve a theory-oriented curriculum as well. When some of these course providers allow the students to choose a stream of specialisation, some instructs to complete an inclusive package of all streams. 

Following are some courses that can be opted by students who have a keen interest in mass communication:

  • BA in Mass Communication
  • BA in Media Studies
  • BA in Mass Communication and Film making
  • Bachelors in Mass Communication (BMC)
  • Bachelors in Multimedia and Mass Communication (BMMC)
  • BSc in Mass Communication
  • MA in Mass Communication
  • Post Graduate and Undergraduate diploma courses in Mass Communication

What is in a journalism degree? 

Journalism as a term is indeed familiar. It is the practice of pooling in news, verifying it, editing it, crafting it in a way that can be consumed by the people, and then disseminating it in the most appropriate way. This practice can be carried out on multiple platforms including newspapers, magazines, television, radio, websites, social media and many more. Needless to say, journalism is still considered as one of the mightiest and fanciest professions, since it has the power to influence public opinion and reaction.

When a bachelor’s or master’s degree is offered in journalism, it means that the college acts as a prep-school for future journalists. They train students in basic journalistic practices and ethics. Students learn how to work on the field and behind the desk for a news media house. Right from identifying what could become the news, up to its publication and follow-up, students are tutored in various streams.

Most importantly, journalism courses provide insight into the change in news format according to the media type. That is, placing of news stories in traditional media like TV and newspaper can be studied along with those in new media platforms. Each media requires distinct specialisation. The course and college have to be chosen wisely, since this is one of the most responsible careers one can enter.

Journalism courses in India

Following are a few courses available in India to study Journalism:

  • BA in Journalism
  • BA in Convergent Journalism
  • BA in Development Journalism
  • BA in Journalism and Communication Studies
  • Bachelor of Journalism
  • MA in Journalism
  • MA in Convergent Journalism
  • Post graduate and Undergraduate diploma courses in Journalism

Mass communication v/s Journalism

Apart from the courses that we discussed, there are some other courses offered by some of the leading prime institutes and universities. These courses, that are undoubtedly the most opted and best offered in India, are the following:

  • BA in Mass Communication and Journalism
  • Bachelor of Communication and Journalism (BCJ)
  • MA in Mass Communication and Journalism
  • Master of Communication and Journalism (MCJ)

Since these are the popular courses, there is a widespread misconception that mass communication and journalism are more or less the same. However, as you would have realised by now, this is not true. The course structure, career prospects, and job profiles associated with these two streams are vastly different. Even when these courses are provided together in BCJ and MCJ degrees, they act similar to a dual-degree program. Students often prefer these courses out of indecision and doubling of opportunities. 

It is also not right to say that journalism is one of the many sub-streams that come under mass communication. By definition, this argument might hold. However, journalism needs a wide canvas and intense practice. Hence, it can be developed into a complete course of two or three years. If you have already realised that you want to become a journalist and are sure about it, then it is feasible to go for a degree in journalism alone. On the other hand, if you haven’t really decided what shall be your specialisation in the media, then a degree course in mass communication would help.

Mass communication vs Journalism: Syllabus, Scope, Payscale

Well, if you still do not know where you fit in, it is important to learn about the curriculum and career options associated with both the streams before the final decision is made.

The syllabus of mass communication courses and journalism courses can be totally different. Many subjects and topics shall overlap, but the core content and pedagogy differ to a great extent. Also, the syllabus can vary according to colleges and universities. However, the broad topics listed below are common for almost all the institutions. 

Mass Communication (Bachelor’s)Journalism (Bachelor’s)
  • Communication Theories
  • Print Media, Electronic Media, Digital Media
  • Development Communication
  • Advertising
  • Radio and TV Production
    Reporting and Editing
  • Media Management
  • Media Laws and Ethics
  • Intercultural and International Communication
  • Public Relations/ Corporate Communication
  • Media Research/ Communication Research
  • Film Studies
  • Photography
  • Fundamentals of Journalism
  • Reporting
  • Editing Methods
  • Print Media
  • Audio-Visual Media
  • Radio Broadcasting
  • Television Broadcasting
  • Internet and New Media
  • Magazine Journalism
  • Media Laws and Indian Constitution
  • Ethics
  • Writing for Media

Career options available after the course also varies. Students of mass communication can move into many different modes of profession ranging from teaching to advertising. According to the area of interest identified during the course, they can become PR professionals, filmmakers, photojournalists, Radio/Video Jockeys, content writers, copywriters, social media managers and many more. Most of the reputed news media organizations now hire reporters and multimedia journalists from the pool of mass communication graduates, mostly due to the normalcy gained by combined BCJ and MCJ courses.

Dedicated Journalism courses, on the other hand, can promise a successful career for those who have realized their nose for news. There are many news media groups who prefer aspirants with a bare minimum experience on the field as reporters. Graduates in Journalism would definitely have the on-field experience because they have studied journalism full-time, not as an allied course. Studying journalism can help students identify the kind of media they’d like to work with. Journalism graduates can move into reporting, editing, news presentation, news program producer, etc.

Another decisive factor that might help students in choosing between mass communication and journalism is the pay scale. For journalists, the experience is key. A fresher with zero experience on field might be paid as low as 2,40,000 to 3,60,000 rupees per annum. However, with the increase in experience over the years, journalists can gain around 12,00,000-18,00,000 rupees per annum and even higher. Rather than the payment, the social acceptability and respect promised by this career is found attractive by many.

Mass communication graduates can make an initial earning ranging from 1,50,000 to 6,00,000 since the course is a gateway to many different kinds of jobs. Basic content writing and translation jobs that can promise basic sums, and copywriting jobs that might pay you according to your command over the wordplay are all part of this spectrum. Pay-scale also largely depends on job providers and individual skills.

Where to study and what to expect?

Both Mass Communication and Journalism courses, may it be bachelors or master’s, are mostly practical courses. On-field experience is necessary to learn interaction with media. None of the topics offered in both the curriculums can be taught within the four walls of a classroom. So, it becomes important to select the appropriate college or university which offers more practical sessions and has more advanced equipment.

Since both these courses are highly preferred by the students, many institutions try to provide them even without adept equipment such as studios, editing suits, video cameras, and microphones. Leading institutions that provide journalism and mass communication courses as a master’s degree include central universities like University of Hyderabad, Pondicherry University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Tezpur University, and Jamia Millia Islamia.

Indian Institute of Mass Communication under the central government is also an important institution. All these universities conduct separate entrance exams, and aspirants have to qualify to secure their seats. The fee is considerably low in these institutions.

Colleges that offer mass communication/journalism courses

However, if you wish to do a bachelor’s degree course in mass communication or journalism, the following are the best options. Most of these institutes provide both these courses, and they fall under the same school or department. Fee per semester can range between 40,000 and 1,00,000 here. 

  • Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune
  • Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Bangalore
  • Xavier Institute of Communication, Mumbai
  • Manipal Institute of Communication, Manipal
  • Asian School of Journalism, Chennai
  • Mudra Institute of Communication, Ahmedabad
  • Madras Christian College, Chennai
  • Christ University, Bangalore

PG Diploma courses in journalism provided by press clubs can also be opted since the necessary field-reporting skills are a significant part of their training. Many of these institutes have campus recruiting, and leading media houses like Times group participates in those. Media houses hire both mass communication and journalism graduates since most organisations now run multiple media platforms. There are more options available for graduates in mass communications and journalism. You just have to send in your resume clearly stating all the experience you have, and if your institution is a widely recognised one, then you stand high chances of getting an interview call!

Conclusion

One thing common to both mass communication and journalism courses is that your professional experience is the key to a successful career. Software expertise and ability to handle the equipment would also add to your employability along with subject knowledge. Hence, make sure you choose your course and college wisely after ample research and homework. Also, do not forget that mass communication is not the same as journalism. So have you decided which one to choose yet?

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