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Experiments in Capacity Building for Science Reporting on TV

For the last one and half years, I have been focusing on the capacity building of people with PhDs to report Indian Science. And I am satisfied with the results. We now have a trickle and a minor push now can convert it into a torrent. We are almost ready to break through the barriers of print media in India.

So it is time to look at TV – work on print, radio and TV have to be synergised to get optimum results since India still has too many illiterates and semi-literates, though first generation learners have burgeoned in recent decades. Thus it was that an experiment was conducted at the Amrita School of Arts and Sciences, Kochi.

Last year, I had done a one-week workshop there for M A students in Journalism and Mass Communication and the results were pleasing. So I was invited to conduct a course on Science Communication as a paper for their M A Visual Media students.  The course was conducted in my typical immersive workshop format. But given the complexity of the technology and techniques used in TV, I requested for two one-week workshops separated by a month or two and the authorities were flexible enough to allow me that freedom.


Can students of Visual Media who had no exposure to science after 12th standard, learn to read and understand scientific papers and write about them? Will they be able to report advancements in science on TV medium?

The first workshop produced content scripts for news based on recent papers by scientists working at Kochi and Ernakulam. These content scripts slowly evolved into shooting scripts and the students started shooting. Fourteen students made news stories and compiled them into a news bulletin during the second workshop. The amount of learning-by-doing that happened was incredible. The students used their own DSLR cameras to shoot and recorded the interviews on their cellphones. Only two of them had any previous exposure to TV production.

The output was surprisingly good. Take a look at the news bulletin.

What difference would there have been had I trained people with PhDs instead of students who had exposure to science only up to the 10th or 12th standard?


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