KM Mathew (1917-2010), acclaimed for his journalism with a human touch, was not content with taking Malayala Manorama to the very pinnacle of regional language journalism in India or launching a string of publications, each of which was a runaway success. Nor did he rest on his laurels when he made his successful foray into English journalism with The Week which went on to become the country's best-selling newsmagazine. Even as he pursued journalism that was bold and sound on ethics, winning awards and setting trends, at the back of his mind was always a long-cherished dream that he often shared with family and friends: to set up a journalism school of world class. He wanted journalism to be taught the way it should be: with a hands-on and no-nonsense approach and without frills and hype. His dream was to mould handpicked students into well-rounded journalists with quality training. This dream finally turned into a reality in 2002 when he set up the Manorama School of Communication (MASCOM) which quickly established itself as a premier journalism training centre in the country..
K Thomas Oommen
K Thomas Oommen has been teaching aspiring journalists from many countries for more than fIve decades. He has been on the faculty as Head of Department or Dean at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, the Times Research Foundation’s Institute of Journalism, the University of Swaziland and the Asian College of Journalism. He has also been a visiting Professor at the University of Kerala and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. He was instrumental in setting up the Sri Lanka College of Journalism in Colombo and has conducted workshops in reporting and editing for Sri Lankan journalists. As a professional journalist, he has worked as a reporter or sub-editor for the Free Press Journal, the Ethiopian Ministry of Information, a number of newspapers in the United States, the Associated Press and as managing editor of Down to Earth magazine. A native of Kottayam, Prof. Oommen returned home after a lifetime abroad to undertake on behalf of the Malayala Manorama group, the task of running a worldclass school of print journalism training students for over an almost twenty-year span. The broadcast journalism course which was introduced a few years back has also churned out graduates who found job opportunities in well-known media organisations.
Both the print and broadcast classrooms in MASCOM are equipped with projectors and sound systems to assist the learning process. They are also connected to the Internet giving access to the latest information and lessons.
MASCOM is equipped with a fully automated newsroom and professional studios. Professional video cameras, editing setup, production equipment and software are used by students to learn the latest concepts in electronic media
MASCOM provides state-of-the-art facilities for training. All student workstations have dedicated computers with broadband connectivity. Print students are trained in Adobe Photoshop, InDesign besides standard word processing software. They also use scanners, printers, digital cameras and voice recorders to put together their lab paper which is eventually printed in a tabloid format.
The School has a well-stocked library which also subscribes to major newspapers and magazines. In addition, students can access Malayala Manorama library and digital archives, subject to approval by the Director or the Librarian.
A canteen with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food is available in MASCOM. A variety of south indian food and snack items are provided to the students and staff of the School with good quality at a nominal rate.
We kept the course fee affordable because MASCOM is a not-for-profit institution and is run with a mission. It was the desire of founder KM Mathew that journalism education should be made available to everyone. The institute also provides for regular field trips of the students outside Kottayam, the cash prizes awarded to the best students, merit-cum-means scholarships given to deserving students and subsidised food at the canteen
The MASCOM faculty consists of a core group of instructors headed by the Director. Guest faculty is selected from the best in the media.
The vision of K M Mathew included taking journalism education to people, much the same way he took journalism itself to people with grit and determination, winning readers and their hearts. He was not inclined to set up the journalism school of his dreams in a metro or megapolis and perpetuate media training as the exclusive privilege of the urban elite. He found no better place for the school than Kottayam, a small but vibrant town in central Kerala enjoying distinct advantages. To begin with, Kottayam is the base of his group’s flagship Malayala Manorama, India’s largest regional newspaper which now has a print run of two million copies a day. This would also help students use Manorama's impressive infrastructure when needed. And, being a hub of media, literature and culture in its own right, Kottayam provides an excellent backdrop for serious journalism training.
Our students discover year after year that the small size of the town has its uses. It is less polluted. It ensures easier access to people, which means newsgathering, a key part of the course, is easier. Students chasing stories do not need to go too far: most government offices are minutes away from the campus. Above all, a small town means lower costs. Did somebody say small is beautiful? Our students say small is useful as well.
Chris Jonathan Peters, a MASCOM alumnus now with Reuters in Bangalore, vouches for it. “Our initial worries of finding stories in this so-called sleepy town turned out to be unfounded. The fact that we did not have too many distractions in Kottayam helped us focus better on the job on hand.” Manish Kumar, with Deccan Chronicle in Chennai, quips: “If you find stories in Kottayam you will find them anywhere in the country!” For Manish, a ‘great attraction’ was that Kumarakom, the much sought-after backwater haven, is less than an hour from Kottayam.About Kottayam