By Randolph Reforma, second year Journalism student
In the first term 2013, publishing came alive for second year Journalism students thanks to guest lecturers from the publishing industry invited by our lecturer, Avantika Agrawal. These visits from industry experts lent real world insights that coincided with the concepts and theories of the course, including an optimistic view of the future of the magazine business.
Odelia Xavier, deputy editor of the events and lifestyle magazine, Mondanite, emphasised the importance of ‘doing homework’ towards building a career. It isn’t enough to know the specific publication to look out for; it is equally important to know the competition, especially the big names of the industry. Getting acquainted with what they’re doing and how they’re doing is valuable knowledge companies look for; not just in publishing but also across the entire employment landscape. Furthermore, self-branding can mean the difference between getting hired and being rejected. Odelia stressed the importance of investing on self-improvement and the urgency of first impressions. Students were also encouraged to start weblogs that may open doors to future employment.
Arabia.com’s Rana Al Hadi was the judge and guest lecturer for the Magazine Launch week. Students worked in groups and developed a magazine proposal, incorporating the module’s theoretical and business concepts. Rana gave a lecture on the business end of publishing, highlighting the role of advertisers and three important considerations: content, numbers/readers and sales. Her lecture’s emphasis was on online publications. Publications are now able to gauge what the audience, not just their target demographic, read on the internet. She explained the use of social media in mapping people’s interests and using that information for writing content that people will read. Scanning event calendars is also essential for budding journalists, according to Rana.
Students studying the Magazines module also had the opportunity to explore printing with a visit to the Atlas Printing Press, once again arranged by Avantika. Students were first given an overview of the company’s start and progress. Owner and CEO, Amit Radia, explained the structure of the Atlas Group, from the numerous clients to the expanding infrastructure that houses their productions. Students were handed over to a representative who explained the printing process, from aluminium plates to the finished product. The processes included layout, followed by printing on aluminium plates, assembling of these plates around cylinders, folding, cutting and trimming. One of the larger printers runs 4,000 prints per hour. The close look at the printing process illuminated the implications on publishers, showing that both industries are inseparable and must work symbiotically with each other.
Industry experts gave journalism students a first-hand look into their future careers. The lectures and field trip walked future journalists through the real workings of the print media industry, fleshing out the concepts and theories taught in the module. In the long run, students had a better understanding of the practical requirements, business mechanisms and the relationships that intertwine throughout their chosen career.