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Home > Publications > Quill > Global: Here or there, media training is everywhere


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Friday, August 1, 2008
Global: Here or there, media training is everywhere

By Bruce C. Swaffield

We pretty much know what to expect when it comes to journalism courses and programs in the United States. But what about training and education overseas ? You might be surprised to learn that there is more available than you think.

“It is hard to generalize about journalism programs in Latin America,” said Silvio Waisbord, author of “Watchdog Journalism in South America” and editor of the International Journal of Press/Politics at George Washington University.

“Some are similar to the average programs in the U.S., but some are very different, as they mainly focus on theoretical issues and offer few practical, skill-oriented courses. It varies from country to country and school to school.

“Lately there have been some interesting partnerships between private schools and large newspapers. These programs offer curricula that are closer to newsroom expectations, give students a chance to intern in major dailies and have faculty who are currently working in the main news media.”

At first glance, the new International Journalism Programme at United International College in Zhuhai, China, might appear traditional in its approach to reporting and writing. Yet a number of unique subjects stress the growing importance of globalization and technology: Computer Aided Reporting, World Media Systems, International News, Social Aspects of Media Technology and Globalization. (See more at uic.edu.hk/en)

One of the most exceptional classes being offered at UIC is News Translation. According to the program handbook, “This subject aims at enhancing the student’s ability in handling information for news purpose in the bilingual context of Hong Kong. Emphasis is put on developing the student’s sensitivity to the difference between the Chinese and English language and awareness of the cultural role of the news translator.”

Let’s hope more schools, both here and abroad, begin to implement a similar course in their curriculum. Reporters today must do more than translate; they need to know the cultural context of words and phrases when reporting about events in another country.

The Institute for the Advancement of Journalism in Johannesburg, South Africa, allows practicing journalists to improve their skills and abilities. A wide variety of daylong courses are offered each month on a rotating basis. They include: Working the Web, Handling the Media, Live Interviews and Stand-ups for TV, Mitigating a Media Crisis and Great Sports Writing.

In addition to working with professionals, the IAJ developed two other programs to promote media awareness throughout the country.

“We have created the Community Radio Training Project to take broadcasting skills out to the South African media’s most under-resourced sector in the rural areas. And through the school’s Newspaper Project, we work with school children and teachers from townships and suburbs, bringing them together to develop and share media skills.” (Read more at IAJ’s Web site: www.iaj.co.za)

One continent East is the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media in Bangalore, India. The non-accredited school is open to all who have a standard, higher secondary education (the U.S. equivalent to high school). Students share common courses, but take slightly different courses depending on their level of education.

But the Indian Institute is more than a technical school.

“The curriculum has been developed in association with Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism,” according to the Web site (www.iijnm.org). “The purpose is not to train candidates for the next job in the field, but to educate them for significant careers.”

The yearlong program allows students to choose one of four concentrations: television journalism, radio journalism, print journalism or Web journalism.

In Russia, the Faculty of Journalism at Moscow State University has the largest such program in the country. The division’s Web site (www.journ.msu.ru/eng) adds that, “About 15,000 mass media specialists, who currently work in different editorial boards, television and radio stations, news agencies in Russia and abroad, have been educated at the Faculty of Journalism.”

Students can choose one of 10 areas of specialization in the four-year program. Courses consist of International Law, World Journalism Studies, Economical and Political Geography of Foreign Countries and Media Systems in Foreign Countries. In addition, students must learn two foreign languages.

As you can see, there are some good places “over there” that train people how to be journalists. And there’s no doubt dozens more will spring up as the public’s appetite increases to know everything going on everywhere each minute of the day.

Bruce C. Swaffield is a professor of graduate studies in journalism at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. He holds a B.S. from Kent State University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Miami. In addition to working as a professional journalist for many years in South Florida, Swaffield has been teaching journalism and writing since 1983. He is a member of the SPJ International Journalism Committee and may be

contacted at brucswa@regent.edu.

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