Teaching Examples

Journalists can apply for Fulbright grants
May 18, 2007, 1:28 pm
Filed under: education, international, journalism, journalists

This is off-topic, but I feel so strongly that international experience is one of the best things you can ever give yourself — I hope you’ll excuse the interruption.

Journalists (who are not educators) are eligible to receive Fulbright funding to go abroad to selected countries. You must be a U.S. citizen when you apply. The deadline for applications is August 1, 2007. Check the Guide to Awards Open to Professionals: 2008-09 and look for journalism. I found 24 different countries that are seeking professional journalists.

There are also up to nine lecturing, research or combined lecturing/research awards for journalism educators during the 2008-09 academic year in Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Israel, Maldives, Syria or the West Bank. Go to this page and start by choosing either a country or a discipline.

The application form is long, but you can complete it in little bits and pieces. It is all online, and you can save it safely many times as you work through it.

I went to Malaysia on a Fulbright (lecturing/research) from November 2004 to July 2005, and it was absolutely one of the best and most wonderful things I have ever done. Do I speak the Malay language? Sadly, no. Many Fulbright grants are open to people who are fluent only in English.

You can apply for only one grant per year, so you must select the country and the award that interests you most and apply for that one. Awards are tied to specific countries.

The deadline for U.S. students applying for a Fulbright is Oct. 19, 2007.

For journalists, what could be a better way to go abroad and research and produce the story of your dreams? You would be funded, and you’d be your own boss.

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Telling the whole world about citizen media
March 28, 2007, 1:02 pm
Filed under: citizen journalism, hyperlocal, international

Proponents of so-called citizen journalism want to maintain the momentum and spread the idea:

OhmyNews plans to establish a global network of international citizen media Web sites … while developing a global resource site of citizen journalism with relevant contents in the future.

The well-known Korean Web site (which is often touted as one of the most successful citizen journalism efforts anywhere in the world) dangles a free trip to Seoul as a carrot to entice people to research and write about citizen media in their home country.

OhmyNews would like to open up research into independent citizen journalism Web sites around the world and introduce them to our global readers. And we intend to conduct this research the OhmyNews way — open source and collaborative. For the successful implementation of this project, the participation of our international citizen reporters is absolutely required.

The article invites you to contact Todd Thacker, senior editor, or Jean K. Min, communications director of OhmyNews — but there is no contact info included.

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Why Al Jazeera English is blocked in the U.S.
March 28, 2007, 4:05 am
Filed under: international, journalism, journalists, news

Finally, I’m happy that I watched an episode of Frontline’s “News War” series on TV. The first three were very disappointing — stuffy, predictable, old-fashioned and dull.

In the fourth installment, “Stories from a Small Planet,” the series focuses on something that is not old and stale. It is the biggest uncovered story in the U.S. — the rest of the world.

The first half focuses on Al Jazeera and some other Arab or Near East-based television networks, including Alhurra TV, the U.S. government-funded network (where our tax dollars are hard at work, spreading propaganda abroad). While not quite as informative as the documentary Control Room (2003), “Stories from a Small Planet” provides a decently paced overview of broadcast journalism outside the Western countries. The second half skips around and ignores Latin America and Africa, but briefly looks at the Philippines and China.

Now, as to why the whole of the United States is prevented from receiving the global news channel Al Jazeera English — via cable or satellite network. Look no further than Accuracy in Media. Yes, the ultra-conservative media watchdog organization. There they are, proudly showing off letters from their campaign to inform every U.S. cable and satellite provider about just how harmful and dangerous Al Jazeera English would be if it were broadcast in the U.S.

Since when are Americans opposed to an open marketplace of ideas?

I’ve said it before — I would pay a premium to get Al Jazeera English on my cable TV lineup. I would like to hear other points of view. Not because I am anti-American, but because I don’t think we can know what’s true if opposing views are censored.

There’s a ton of supplemental material online for “Stories from a Small Planet” at the Frontline/World site:

Update: Here is what Accuracy in Media published about Al Jazeera English in November 2006:

The American people do not want Al-Jazeera International in their homes or businesses. In fact, a recent poll revealed that 53 percent of people oppose Al-Jazeera International, while only 29 percent support the channel. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has not responded quickly enough to the rise of Al-Jazeera International, and it was recently reported that the network will launch on November 15, though at this point there are no U.S. cable companies that have announced plans to carry it. When asked to comment on the new Al-Jazeera, Wadah Khanfar, Director General of the Al-Jazeera Network, stated ominously, “The new channel will provide the same ground-breaking news and impartial and balanced journalism to the English speaking world.” Indeed, Khanfar sardonically supports Kincaid’s assertions that Al-Jazeera International and the Arabic Al-Jazeera are entirely similar. Kincaid warns that this issue is of the utmost importance, and if Al-Jazeera makes waves on American cable, then the possibility of suicide bombers in America could lurk close behind.

It is interesting that they refer to a supposed poll and never name the poll or provide any information about who sponsored the poll, when or where the poll was conducted, or what questions were asked in the poll.

If 29 percent of Americans polled supposedly “support” the channel, why is not being carried on any U.S. satellite or cable service?

And how is it possible that a supposed 53 percent of Americans “oppose” Al Jazeera — when they have never even seen it? How can you oppose something that you have no experience with — an information source you have never seen? Do they oppose it because the poll-takers described it to them as the network that will create “the possibility of suicide bombers in America”? Hm?

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How press censorship works
March 23, 2007, 4:15 pm
Filed under: blogs, censorship, free speech, international, journalism, malaysia, press freedom

Although Malaysia is a small country (about 26.6 million people, or less than 10 percent the population of the U.S.), its press and broadcast policies are worthy of study. Take the recent government edict issued to a dozen mainstream newspapers and five television stations telling them to ignore any and all online information that might be considered anti-government. (More about the Malaysian issue at Malaysia Today: Bloggers controversy keeps journalists busy, March 23. More also at Jeff Ooi’s blog, March 21.)

I have met some journalism students (and even some mature editors) who think this way: How can you decide which online sources are telling the truth? Well, it can be hard to be sure. So these cautious folks decide they just won’t consult any online-only sources. Ha, that solves the problem, doesn’t it?

A journalist’s job is to find sources and verify them. That means checking and cross-checking. You can do that with online sources — if you’re not a lazy slug.

Sometimes you will hear people calling for stronger oversight of the news media in the U.S. On this subject, we can learn from a country like Malaysia. What does “stronger oversight” amount to?

The biggest muzzle on the press is a license to publish. They have these in Malaysia. You cannot print a newspaper of any kind unless the national government has given you a license to do so.

The license is like a sword hanging over your newspaper’s neck — and that neck is permanently stretched out on the chopping block. Every editor in Malaysia knows this. How do I know? I lived there for eight months and interviewed several of them, both formally and informally. Not one of them agreed to speak on the record.

Why journalists act like chickens

The first threat is personal. Say a government official complains about a story in your newspaper. Maybe it’s a matter of so-called national security, or maybe it’s just about the incredibly expensive mansion the official built for his second wife. If you are the editor who permitted that story to be published, you probably won’t be hauled off and shot (Malaysia isn’t that kind of country). But you could lose your job. And even more subtly, you might just not get that plum promotion you had been guaranteed.

The most interesting thing I was told: If you have children who are not yet of college age, what you’re afraid of is that they will not receive a place at one of the better pubic universities. The national government determines all placements in all public universities in Malaysia. Journalists actually believe the government will send their kids to an inferior school in the hinterlands if they, the journalists, make someone mad by publishing something undesirable.

That one really amazed me.

The second threat is worse: The government can take away your newspaper’s license, and there’s no way to appeal the decision. Your paper must shut down the presses, apply for a new license, and just wait, wait, wait until they think they have punished you enough. Everybody loses his or her job.

What happens when a government is immune from criticism? I mean, your editor is too scared to let you follow up on a story about a legislator’s suspiciously huge income from unknown sources — let alone anything more pervasive or dangerous to the idea of fair government or equality under the law. Malaysia does call itself a democracy, and it holds free and fair elections, and the legislature meets and discusses policy and passes laws. On the surface, the country appears to function like a democratic republic — just like the U.S. or Britain or any other “modern democracy.”

No democracy without a free press

Living in Malaysia, I learned how much of a difference a free press can make. Sure, the U.S. news media have a long, long list of failings. But at least when they do decide to fulfill their watchdog role, the government won’t swoop in and shut down the whole newspaper.

Malaysian officials will be very quick to tell you that you can, and will, read negative news about the government in Malaysian newspapers. That is true. But if you live there for a few months, you’ll start to get the big picture. Malaysians like to read two or three newspapers a day to try to figure out what’s really going on. Part of the way they figure it out — they call it “reading between the lines” — is to compare how the same story is handled in different papers, especially comparing the English-language papers with the vernacular (Malay or Chinese) papers. You’ll sometimes see a very different emphasis in each version, and that lets you know which political faction is pushing the story forward. So the negative news is spun by some power within the government, just as much as the positive news.

Now, back to that edict about ignoring online sources.

In a country such as Malaysia, the only freedom of speech to be found in any mass medium is online (there is also an underground network of SMS — because everyone sends text messages all day long, even grandmothers and small children).

Because the government has pledged not to censor or control the Internet — in the interests of attracting Western business and not seeming to be too backward or paternalistic — what is the best way to combat the truths found only on blogs and other online sites?

  1. Try to convince everyone that the Internet is full of lies.
  2. Try to convince people that there is no way to separate truth from fiction online.
  3. Make all bloggers out to be crazy people, unreliable, and certainly never experts.
  4. Forbid all journalists to use information found online.
  5. Repeat the age-old assurances that the government itself will tell the people everything they need to know.

Well. I think we can all learn from the Malaysian example.

Is anyone you know convinced that we cannot find reliable sources online?

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Training citizens to be journalists
January 13, 2007, 1:01 pm
Filed under: citizen journalism, international, journalism, online, participation

The Press Institute for Women in the Developing World “trains women in developing countries to serve as reporters and writers in their own communities.” This is where the rubber meets the road for citizen journalism — where people who have something important to say finally get a platform, a channel, in which to publish and broadcast.

Thanks to Robin Sloan at Snarkmarket, found via Martin Stabe.

Robin wrote that “a pilot program in Mexico is up and running, with citizen journalists there writing stories every month” and “a new program is slated to start in Nepal in March.”

I read a PIWDW story about abortions in Mexico that was well researched (and worthy of attention). Abortion is mostly illegal in Mexico, but that doesn’t prevent 850,000 abortions being performed there each year. Almost one-third of those result in the death of the woman.

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Support this child’s laptop for only pennies a day
January 11, 2007, 4:09 pm
Filed under: innovation, international, online, tools

The One Laptop Per Child program has my full support. But my support, unfortunately, is just a warm feeling in my heart. Jeff Jarvis has suggested that the project subsidize the distribution of laptops to children in developing countries by selling us wealthier folks the same laptops at an inflated price. Now the BBC reports that the OLPC group might launch a “buy 2 and get 1” deal.

One Laptop Per Child

While I would like to fondle one of the laptops for a day or two, I don’t really want to own one. What I would love to do, though, is add OLPC to my annual charity donations list. I’m telling you, I believe in this program! I think it can change the world.

So give me a way to do what those “you can sponsor a child for just $24 a month” campaigns purport to do. Send me a picture of a kid with the laptop I bought for her. Make a Web site, for heaven’s sake, so it’s fully transparent and all of us donors know we are not all getting the same photo of the same kid. (Imagine the database: name of child, country, date laptop received, photo of child with laptop, donor ID number. Nothing could be simpler.) I would pay $150 (or $200, or $250) to buy a laptop for a child in India, Kenya, Cambodia, Brazil … you name it. Heck, once the kid has her laptop, she can send me an e-mail!

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Iraqi bloggers discuss execution
January 2, 2007, 7:43 pm
Filed under: blogging, blogs, international, news

Riverbend (of Baghdad Burning) reacts to the hanging of Saddam. She has this to say about the CNN coverage:

Shame on you CNN journalists — you’re getting lazy. The least you can do is get the last words correct when you write a story about an execution. Your articles are read the world over and will go down in history as references. You people are the biggest news network in the world — the least you can do is spend some money on a decent translator.

Zeyad (of Healing Iraq) provides a summary of several Iraqi bloggers’ posts (with links to their original posts) at IraqSlogger.

Another summary with links by Hamid Tehrani at Global Voices.

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