Estremera: Communication arts and relevance

I WAS looking at the curriculum of the BA Communications program of a big university in Mindanao, and I can only shake my head in incomprehension.

Student interns have been saying as much, but since they do not bring the full curriculum when they come over to learn at the office, I never understood when they say, “Puro introduction man lang ang sa multimedia and information and communication technology man lang, ma’am.”

Coming from a heavily technical course where one subject is a pre-requisite of two to five more, all building up to a relative expertise before graduation, that a major subject is but an introduction just does not make sense.

Only general courses were introductions — like introduction to philosophy (since my course was architecture and philosophy plays a part but not on centerstage). The major subjects come one after the other every semester, building up what has been taught before, you’d be having nightmares about them over and over again.

Our company president is more scathing: Forget everything you learned in school. That’s what she’d say to young communication graduates who are just getting their feet wet. It hurts, especially if you’re a graduate, but it’s true.

In several of my lectures, I’ve pointed out how fast a curriculum can go stale in the communication field setting an example mobile phones and how often a brand upgrades. These upgrades come with fascinating additional apps and capabilities.

Like I only shifted to iPhone at iPhone 5 and 5s. The photo and video quality between the two were very distinct. And that was just within one year. The next ine came after the two were all ready to give up: the iPhone7. It was wow. Like I thought it wascool that I can write my articles, take photos, do some minor editing, send and receive photos, and blog from my phone.

But with iPhone7, you can do almost all kinds of multimedia communications just on your mobile - video, sounds, graphics, graphics, and layout.

There is but two years separating 5 and 7, and yet the difference is stupendous.

In the meantime, mass communication students are using a textbook that’s on its 13th edition onwards and only has three units each for multimedia communications and fundamentals of software, and we’re not even talking of who the teacher is.

Given the pace of life that the information and communication age has brought, what we can stimulate is the passion of students to learn outside the classroom setting, and explore what the Internet has in store. Focusing on grades instead of lifelong learning will create dinosaurs of communication that is no longer relevant to an audience who has the communication medium on their hands as well. They who believe that media practitioners are the only ones who can thresh out the truth and those who also believe that those outside media can only propagate fake news.

The focus should thus be on journalism and its discipline of verification and thrust to inform and arm the audience with actionable options, not the media. The medium will change but the discipline and thrust will remain to a true journalist.

Humans will always want to read, hear, and listen to a true story, but there will always e the tendency of the receiver to embellish that truth. That’s how myths and epics came to be. Speak your truth anyway, and explore all means to deliver these.

Remember, the tools and methods will always change. saestremera@gmail.com
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