Rediscovering Excellence in Journalism: Journalism Mentor

"In journalism, there has always been a tension between getting it first and getting it right," so said veteran American journalist & Pulitzer Prize winning syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman.

In today?s highly commercialised world, this conflict has become even more crucial. The very profession of journalism is being looked at through a cynical lens. It is hence, imperative that young aspiring journalists receive the right guidance and training so that they uphold the highest principles of journalism without compromising on newsworthiness and immediacy.

Journalism Mentor (JM) ( is a-one-of-its-kind mentorship based programme for post graduate journalism in India which promises to provide that guidance to aspirants. The institute, located in Mumbai, was founded four years ago by veteran journalist Shishir Joshi and Dr. Aloke Thakore as a not-for-profit organisation.

The institute was recently featured in a New York Times? article on journalism education in India. It is perhaps the only institute in India which places no age or no language barrier.

Interestingly, both founders do not take any salary and are working for the sheer passion that drives them for this cause. While there are some students who pay the entire fees (in three installments), there are others who pay fees once they start earning their salaries. In some cases fees have been waived off in entirety, on humanitarian grounds.

Shishir Joshi

Speaking exclusively, Journalism Mentor programme director Shishir Joshi says: "Both Aloke and I felt that the gap between what is taught and what skills are needed is wide. Those entering the profession, whether in print or television, or multimedia, flounder. The need for proper education is more than ever. Senior journalists have shared this need and some of them are supporting this initiative as mentors. For me teaching has been an abiding interest and we have ensured that this programme delivers the best in journalism education."

JM has an impressive line-up of visiting faculty which is paid even more than existing standards Joshi revealed. Shillong Times editor & Padamshree Patricia Mukhim, Outlook editor Krishna Prasad, Mumbai BBC bureau chief Zubair Ahmed, Divya Marathi chief editor Kumar Ketkar, former NDTV bureau chief South & currently The South Reports editor TS Sudhir are some of the reputed personalities associated with it.

JM Foundation partners Martin Luther University to reach Shillong for a workshop on Journalism, citizens role, Media ethics and practice.

The institute is an off-spring of the JM Foundation for Excellence in Journalism which is engaged in journalism education, archiving and journalism research. The foundation has trained more than 600 citizen journalists across five states and will soon be announcing its expansion to the North East.

In addition to this, JM programme has now partnered with Martin Luther Christian University in Shillong, India, which will accept Journalism Mentor credits from students who wish to pursue a postgraduate diploma or masters in journalism.

Joshi admits it has been a struggle at times. He elaborates: "It is not easy to sustain an organisation like this. When we started, we dipped into our pockets. We do have our limitations if we have to invite a guest speaker from outside of Mumbai as we cannot afford to bear their travel or stay costs at times."

Joshi added that their dependence on fees from students is high. Sometimes other not-for-profit projects of the foundation help make ends meet for JM.

"We are now a registered charitable institution and are approaching CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) divisions of various institutions to come forward and support us, through endowments or even sponsoring the education of students. Many of our books have been donated by well wishers."

Apart from total fee waiver for genuinely needy students, JM offers two other scholarships; one for the North Eastern states and one for Jammu and Kashmir.

The institute maintains a clear and transparent approach for donation and has it displayed as a wishlist on its website

JM is gaining prominence and recognition gradually. The official Facebook page has a commendable twenty thousand likes. Besides, students from well informed backgrounds like young graduate Parth MN, son of renowned journalist Nikhil Wagle, are opting for this over other popular institutes.

Joshi reasons: "What sets us apart from the hordes of other institutes is our approach. We will not induct more than 25 students a year and we give special attention to the skills and needs of each student. Besides, the faculty is well connected with the industry. As a result, after the programme, our students get placed in reputed organisations."

JM has had 22 graduates over a span of three years and with the exception of three, all students have been employed in news organisations like NDTV, Times Now, Mumbai Mirror, The Telegraph, Careers 360, Hindustan Times, Mid-Day, The Afternoon Despatch & Courier, Deccan Chronicle, Lokmat Times, Dainik Bhaskar, Saamna and Mahanagar.

The 14-month programme also includes 15 day project of conflict reporting which gives students a real insight into the practical and challenging demands of this profession. "We do not guarantee jobs but we definitely guarantee valuable education", Joshi concludes.

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