MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: Why did the Asian School of Journalism have to move out of Bangalore and be relocated in Madras? Unbelievable as it may seem, because adequate and suitable accommodation could not be found for it in Silicon City.
In an interaction with mediamen on Sunday, ACJ founder T.J.S. George said that after a point, the New Indian Express offices in Bangalore, where the ACJ was originally located, began to get a little too small. And all efforts to find a suitable place for its expansion went in vain.
“Myself and the late YNK (Y.N. Krishnamurthy, editor of Kannada Prabha) ran from pillar to post meeting all and sundry for getting a suitable place. We even met H.D. Deve Gowda, then Chief Minister of Karnataka. It was of no avail,” George said.
Some space in the present Jnanabharati complex of the Bangalore University was suggested. When the matter was broached with the concerned, a hint of a bribe of Rs 5 lakh was given. “It was at this stage that I said ‘Go to hell’ and gave up the idea of developing the ACJ in Bangalore.”
An offer came from a group of mediamen in Madras, including Sashi Kumar and N. Ram of The Hindu, and it was agreed to relocate ACJ in that City, where it is growing. It was not a commercial transaction but a mere relocation, George said.
The ACJ, the founder recalled, was planned to be different from the training available in the University streams: “In the universities, the journalism is clubbed with public relations. But we believed that journalism and public relations could not go hand in hand. Journalism is basically anti-public relations and we concentrated only on journalism.”
Two improvisations made in the training programme helped the ACJ to make its mark.
“One was that we deliberately kept out the retired journalists as faculty members. And secondly we shunned the PhDs, who are only good in theory. A practising journalist was picked up, sent for training at the Thomson Foundation, and the person turned out to be a good teacher.”
On the prospects of the experiment being replicated in the interest of providing professional training to Kannada journalists, George said: “We have shown the way. It is for others to pick up thread. I have done my duty. Yes, the shifting of the ACJ was indeed a loss for Karnataka.”