Making a Shift Toward International Journalism

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The United States needs more international journalism in its news diet. Recent revelations from Pew Research show public interest in foreign news has been declining, and one likely reason is the increased attention Americans have been giving to domestic problems. (We are paying more attention to Asia than to Europe, but if you live in another part of the world — sorry.)

I don’t much care to blame the public for the typical “they don’t want it, so the media won’t give it to them” argument. It’s the news industry’s responsibility to offer a healthy dose of important news and analysis from around the globe. Provide a solid journalistic product, and I believe the audience will follow.

West Texas A&M’s journalism program is doing something about that. We’re increasing the opportunities our students have to study international journalism academically, follow it professionally, and actually report from different countries.

We made a significant stride toward this focus on international journalism last summer when we took 10 students on a two-week Travel Writing experience to South Korea and Japan. We’re planning on repeating the Study Abroad course again in South Korea during summer 2015.

Travel Writing Through Asia

We’ll soon be sharing some of these reports, and other stories from our students’ and faculty members’ experiences abroad, in a special web section of The Prairie. (Note: The Prairie is undergoing a significant redesign, so be sure to check back in several weeks when it debuts.)

Prairie Logo

WT’s journalism program is also partnering with the Society of Professional Journalists to curate information about global journalism issues and share them via social media. SPJ’s International Journalism Committee has relaunched its Twitter feed, and WT journalism students will help search for and post interesting content. The IJC (I’m a committee member) also plans to have a presence on other social media platforms soon.

IJC Twitter

In addition to all of this coolness, we’ve added a core course to WT’s journalism sequence, aptly titled International Journalism. It’s designed as an undergraduate class, but we’ll be offering a graduate version this summer. The point of this course, and of the increased attention our program is paying to international journalism, is to give our students an opportunity to better understand — and experience — journalism on a global scale.

And speaking of global scale journalism, WT’s Mass Comm Program is preparing for just such an opportunity this spring. I need to keep it under wraps for the time being, but if it all comes together, you’ll be hearing about it soon.

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