The School of Journalism recently welcomed back eight students and three faculty members from Brazil, where they were researching land disputes and developmental pressures in the Amazon and in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.
“There’s no better way to learn how to do global reporting than to explore the globe on your own,” said SOJ Director Peter Klein, who heads up the IRP. “Students had real-life experiences of reporting in the field, including all the difficult, uncomfortable and risky challenges.”
Students began researching events in Brazil back in September, uncovering stories and securing contacts. Once on the ground, their focus shifted to conducting and filming interviews, gathering audio and making on-the-fly editorial decisions.
IRP fellow Farida Hussain admits that she didn’t know exactly what she was getting into when she signed up for the class, but her expectations were high. “I applied for this course with the dream of being a fearless journalist, immersing myself in new cultures and terrains,” she said. “I’ve kept the dream, but also learned the practicalities of visa issues, language barriers, and stomach bugs.”
Despite the challenges she faced on the ground, Hussain found the experience invaluable. “I felt myself transforming from a j-school student into an actual reporter over this trip to Brazil, so it was well worth it,” she said.
David Rummel, an assistant professor and former senior producer for News and Documentary at The New York Times, led one of the student teams on the ground in Brazil.
“At a time of dwindling resources for international reporting among many media organizations, UBC’s Graduate School of Journalism has created a unique course that is training a new generation of reporters to find, report and publish under-reported stories,” said Rummel.
Post-production efforts are currently underway, and members of the program expect to have a polished video piece by the end of the semester. Klein, whose 2010 IRP class won an Emmy for a documentary on electronic waste, is excited about this year’s project.
“We’re onto a really important, strong story that has been largely ignored by most of the media in North America,” he said. “I have high hopes for this project having a real impact.”
Pictured: IRP fellow Jacqueline Ronson, reporting from a Xikrin village along the Bacajá River in Pará, Brazil (photo courtesy of Hassan Arshad)
UBC journalism student Shannon Dooling and IRP fellow interned at New Hampshire Public Radio