I am a firm believer in the critical role post-secondary education plays in raising journalism standards in developing democracies. Student publications are the best guarantor of sustainable reform. I have had the honor to launch or, in the case of The Bullet, to nurture the student publications below. Many of the student journalists behind these publications are now leaders in their nations’ journalism communities.
UB Horizon (Botswana, 2007) This, the first student newspaper to be published at the University of Botswana, achieved instant popularity among students and beyond. Journalism students wrote and edited the stories, sold the ads, set up a distribution system and laid out the paper. The page 1 story here set the national record straight on the real HIV/AIDS precedence rate in Botswana. Common knowledge held the rate at around 30 percent. As you can read, a closer look at the research revealed a much lower number. This was a topic that the national dailies wouldn’t touch until the UB Horizon broke the story. The Horizon made a profit on the second issue and is still going strong today. Thanks to the McGee Journalism Fellowship in Southern Africa for making this new newspaper possible.
Dayirman (“The Windmill,” Azerbaijan, 2006) My Baku State University journalism students went straight from their one-semester skills course graduation celebration to an empty classroom to plan the first edition of “The Windmill,” the first independent student publication in the school’s history. They raged against the empire. One student wrote a story asking why students were not allowed to use an olympic-sized swimming pool at the university that was built with public funds. She and some of her colleagues were later summoned to appear before the vice-rector, who told them to retract their stories. They stood by their perfectly accurate stories, and they were not disciplined. BS-U was not ready for press freedom, however, and the paper folded after the second edition. But the students had learned what journalism feels like.
The Searchlight (Cambodia, 2004) This in-house training publication was produced by working journalists from Viet Nam, Laos, Burma and Cambodia to test their skills at the end of a two-month course at the Southeast Asia Media Center, a project of the Independent Journalism Foundation.
Negru pe Alb (Bucharest, 2003) A class of Roma journalists produced this newspaper, “Black and White,” at the end of a basic skills training course at the Center for Independent Journalism, Bucharest. The lead story chronicles the lives of a group of glue-sniffing boys who said they work as petty thieves for a neighborhood handler.
The Bullet (University of Bucharest, 2003) This feisty student monthly published in English and Romanian regularly broke news that the Bucharest dailies followed. The students came up with the name and flag. The reporter that covered the student suicide story on page 1 is now a staff writer in the Reuters bureau in Bucharest. Three of my students went on to earn advanced journalism degrees at American universities. Thanks to the Knight International Journalism Fellowship program for sending me to Romania.
What great work you’ve done in all these places! Working on the UB Horizon was an incredible experience. I learned more there than in all my classes combined, and it’s so good to see it still going strong four years later. Thank you for teaching us how to stand up for the truth and carry out our work with integrity.
Hi Doug, i am very grateful to have known someone like you in my journalism
training path. You have really done so much and the UB Horizon was a crucial
step in shaping not only the UB media studies dapartment but journalism as a
whole in Botswana. . .and i am so happy it appears first in the list of
student publications you have helped set up. The vacation job you initiated
helped me a lot. I am now working for Mmegi and there is still a lot to learn on the ground. .. Thanks once again
This paper has made a lot more difference in the University of Botswana, for example, the library at the University of Botswana did not have a place where to keep student’s bags while they enter the library. Bags were not allowed to enter the library. Students would be compelled to leave their bags in front of the library, most of them lost their personal belongings due to theft. A UB Horizon journalist carried an article on the issue, after several attempts by students to convince superiors to come up with a solution on students bags which were laying in front of the library, exposed to theft and even rain water. A couple of months the UB library constructed a storage for student’s bags. UBH journalist stood for what they believed was the truth… I learnt a lot from Doug’s classes. I know I am not the only one…Thanks Doug 🙂