A newly published study by professor Mariam Gersamia of Ivane Javakhishvilli Tbilisi State University in the Republic of Georgia and Knight Center director Eric Freedman examines the journalism accreditation process in that post-communist South Caucasus country.
Since independence in 1991, Georgia has made significant progress with democratization and now has what is considered the freest, most independent and most diverse press among the ex-Soviet Caucasus and Central Asian countries. There have also been improvements in the quality of journalism education as part of a national process of educational reform, but the curricula remain hampered by Soviet-era legacies in content and pedagogy.
Their essay, “Challenges to Creating Vibrant Media Education in Young Democracies: Accreditation for Media Schools in Georgia,” compares a leading university’s curriculum with the UNESCO model curricula for journalism education. It also discusses the purposes and standards of accreditation for journalism and mass communication programs, and concludes that the current accreditation process in Georgia needs improvement.
The study appeared in Journalism & Mass Communication Educator.
A story by Knight Center graduate student Carin Tunney was recently named a finalist in a national Association of Food Journalists competition.
The story “Can tiny livestock solve big hunger” about eating insects in North America appeared in two Knight Center publications: The Food Fix and Great Lakes Echo.
The winner will be announced in September at the annual conference of the Association of Food Journalists in Philadelphia.
Knight Center research director Bruno Takahashi won the top faculty paper award in the Scholastic Journalism Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) conference.
The paper titled “Students’ experiences in an environmental journalism master’s program: An application of knowledge-based journalism principles,” was co-authored with doctoral student Perry Parks.
The paper presents a qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews with graduates from the master’s program in journalism at MSU. The study highlights the challenges faced by journalism students interested in environmental reporting. A main challenges is the perceived gap between communication theory, statistics and research methods, and the practice of journalism.
The paper will be presented at the AEJMC conference in Chicago, August 9 to the 12, 2017.
Journalists around the world face prison for practicing their profession in ways that antagonize regimes, militaries, oligarchs and other powerful interests. What they do after their release — whether in their home country or in exile — is the topic of a new study that Knight Center director Eric Freedman recently presented at the Academic Conference on the Safety of Journalists in Jakarta, Indonesia, sponsored by UNESCO and Hong Kong Baptist University.
His paper is based on in-depth interviews with eight journalists who had been imprisoned and then returned to journalism, communications or journalism education. Six were jailed in their home countries — Syria, Cameroon, Azerbaijan, Eritrea and Ethiopia. Two American journalists who had been imprisoned in other countries, Iran and the Soviet Union, were interviewed as well. The study also incorporates interviews with psychologists Hawthorne Smith and Katherine Porterfield, who work with journalists through the Bellevue Hospital/New York University Program for Survivors of Torture.
While each journalist’s experience during and after prison is unique, some common themes emerged from the interviews:
- Psychological aspects, including post-traumatic stress disorder
- Not working after release
- Being back on the job
- Continued commitment to journalism’s mission
- Understanding the risks
- Career changes
- Being the news
“The findings may help press rights advocates, news organizations, professional groups and fellow journalists better assist released journalists to transition back into their careers,” Freedman said.
The study is part of his research for the past 15 years about constraints on journalism and press freedom internationally.
- Ali Al-Ibrahim, an investigative journalist and war correspondent, was detained twice in Syria, first by the Bashir al-Assad regime in 2011 for two months and then by the Islamic State in 2013 for two months. He is now an investigative documentary filmmaker and freelancer.
- Housam al-Mosilli, a Syrian journalist and translator, was arrested and tortured three times in 2011-2012. Now in Sweden, he writes political articles for magazines and works as a translator.
- Shane Bauer, an American freelancer based in Damascus, was arrested in 2009 after allegedly straying across the Iranian border from Iraqi Kurdistan while on holiday. He was convicted of espionage and illegal entry and sentenced to eight years and is now a senior writer for Mother Jones magazine.
- Dessale Berekhet, a columnist and author from Eritrea, was jailed for six months and tortured before release in 2008. He now works in Norway.
- Nicholas Daniloff, an American, was the U.S. News & World Report magazine bureau chief in Moscow when the KGB arrested him in 1986 on suspicion of espionage. He was jailed for two weeks and then held under house arrest for 1 month. He is now a retired Northeastern University journalism professor.
- Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative reporter and contributor to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Azerbaijan, was arrested in 2014 and sentenced to 7½ years on fabricated charges, including tax evasion and embezzlement. Authorities conditionally released her in May 2016 but barred her reporting at the time of my interview. She later resumed journalism in her country.
- George Ngwa was editor-in-chief of Radio Cameroon when he was arrested in 1983. Authorities interrogated him for two weeks. He is now chief of the meetings coverage section of the UN News and Media Division.
- Tesfalem Waldyes, a freelance journalist in Ethiopia, was arrested in 2014, charged with terrorism and freed in 2015. He now works for Deutsche Welle in Germany
The academic conference was part of UNESCO’s annual World Press Freedom Day conference, “Critical Issues for Critical Times: Media’s Role in Advancing Peaceful Just and Inclusive Societies.”