Round Earth Media

An explanation!

July 1, 2016

Some of Our Journalists are Students

Hello to my friends and the friends of Round Earth Media,

Some of you have been asking — so you work with students? Well, not only students but mentoring, training and supporting student journalists is indeed one of the most rewarding – and groundbreaking – aspects of our work. Here’s an explanation.

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Journalists we mentor, train and support are all under the age of 35. Some of those journalists have been working for years — others are students. The students come to us via a partnership with SIT Study Abroad in the following programs:

Morocco: Field Studies in Journalism and New Media is a semester long journalism program.
Serbia, Bosnia, and Kosovo: Peace and Conflict Studies in the Balkans offers a journalism track
South Africa: Social and Political Transformation is our new program, launching a journalism track in Spring 2017.

Round Earth’s veteran journalists guide these students to produce journalism of the highest professional and ethical standards in a range of mediums including print, radio, photo and video. But that’s not all. When a story is exceptionally good, the journalists at Round Earth help place the student’s reporting in top-tier media outlets, ranging from The New York Times to NPR to the Chronicle on Higher Education. Students on our programs major in journalism, of course, but also in international relations, English, history, anthropology, philosophy, the sciences and more. Proof positive that undergraduatesf1f11da0-a381-4d08-a8ab-654e42de5abb can produce important and compelling journalism, while receiving a powerful experience in cross-cultural learning.

These pioneering programs are especially important at a time of declining international news coverage (the disruption in financial support for journalism, has resulted in declining foreign news coverage). Our amazing students step into the gap, producing journalism from under-covered countries and regions, news and information that reaches huge global audiences.

Read a student story in The New York Times.

Photo top left: Kirsten Kortebein, photographing the “toughest footrace on earth” in the Sahara Desert. Her photos from our program were published in The New York Times and Outside Magazine
Photo above right: Student partners Kelsey Hanson and Assia Labchara

What Students Are Saying
For aspiring foreign correspondents, this boots-on-the-ground program is unparalleled. You’re working with veteran media professionals with access to some of the country’s most valuable sources. ~ Ben Bartenstein (Macalester College)
We were not just students, we were journalists who had the opportunity to write about something that matters. ~ Kacie Graves (Illinois Wesleyan University)

Transformative cross-cultural partnerships
We were always together to discuss every detail. The idea of partners is very important. ~ Moroccan journalism student Youssra El Hassani

We believe deeply in the power of cross-cultural partnership – we pair each SIT student with a student or early-career journalist from the country where the program is taking place. Mentored by the veteran editors who work for Round Earth, partners work together on the same under-reported story. Story topics are wide-ranging and include education, women, politics, the arts, the environment, health, and much more.

Many student partners become close friends. They help each other with language study, attend social events together, share their different tastes in music, all while debating, tackling and reporting on challenging issues.

66feea5a-8fe6-4ca8-8f72-1ae8d1506c80Read HERE about the experience of partners Anna Squires and Marija Pajkovic in the Balkans (photo left).

As for the in-country partners, they benefit greatly from the “opportunity to work under the supervision of professional journalists,” said Khadija Zizi, a professor at ISIC (L’Institut Supérieure de l’Information et de la Communication), the journalism school in Rabat and our partner in the Morocco program. In this way we help train the next generation of in-country journalists to the highest standards – right alongside the Americans. In our new program in South Africa, for example, the South African journalist-partners will publish their reporting in outlets affiliated with the Times Media Group, that country’s most respected media outlet.

But our idea is not only to train a future generation of foreign correspondents; we especially want to cultivate a culture of communication, understanding, and mutual respect between the United States, Morocco, the Balkans and soon South Africa.

An Eyewitness Reflection
It is 3 p.m. and a dozen SIT Study Abroad students arrive at the ISIC journalism school on the outskirts of Rabat, Morocco’s capital city. They’re about to meet a group of Moroccan journalism students 7f1c183f-0092-4a1b-b8b1-83952ecb56edwho will become their partners. In a split second, the neat rows of chairs are thrust aside; there’s a rush of bodies up and down rows. Small groups take shape in the corners and a general buzz fills the classroom. The camaraderie is instantaneous; the energy—palpable. In an hour, almost everyone has found reporting partners. Names, emails, and cell numbers are exchanged. And then, the mark of true success for this generation — the students announce creation of a new Facebook page, the Moroccan American Journalism Partnership, dedicated for coordinating and exchanging information about their reporting projects.

A great deal of credit for the success of these partnerships – and the journalismthey produce — goes to the students 225fbad1-17e7-435d-bfd6-3f3e6784a8dband SIT’s experiential model. However, I believe that their ultimate success rests in having advisors and mentors from Round Earth Media, veteran journalists who bring well-honed reportorial skills and deeply held professional values to the task of shaping the next generation of global journalists. ~Nancy Fushan (Fushan has had a long career as an award winning journalist and a program officer for major American foundations, now working as a consultant with Round Earth.)

Photo above left: Partners JP Keenan, Sutton Raphael, Loubna Fouzar, and Rim Boudkir
Photo above right: Partners Ikram Benaicha and Karis Hustad

Enduring Impact
Walid and I had a final goodbye coffee just before I left, and had a long conversation about how lucky we feel to have had the opportunity to work on a project like the one we did together. I am certain we will be in touch, likely for the rest of our lives. ~Maddy Crowell (Carleton College)

Maddy Crowell continued working with Round Earth Media the summer after her semester in Morocco. It’s not unusual for Round Earth editors to mentor and support young journalists sometimes for years after the end of the program. Maddy Crowell traveled to work in Ghana where Round Earth helped Maddy and her Ghanaian reporting partner, Jamila Okertchiri, file stories for The Economist Magazine in the United States and The Daily Guide in Ghana. Maddy was subsequently awarded a much-coveted Overseas Press Club Fellowship to report from India and will enter the Columbia University graduate school of journalism to begin work on a master’s degree this fall. 37cb54f4-d8bf-4ce2-8046-1e96d54ef040(Photo at left: Pamela Howard and Maddy Crowell. Howard, of the Scripps Howard Foundation, endowed the Overseas Press Club scholarship awarded to Maddy.)

Maddy is not alone. Our students have gone on to careers in journalism in both the U.S. and abroad, some have received Fulbright Fellowships along with other academic grants and awards, and many continue to work with Round Earth Media, seeking our advice, mentoring and support as their careers in journalism unfold. We have assisted our young journalist-partners from in-country to garner scholarships for advanced degrees in journalism in the U.S. They will return to their home countries as more accomplished and ethical journalists.

There is enduring impact on young people who participate in these remarkable programs and on their countries as we support and encourage the next generation of independent journalists committed to telling the world’s stories.

Warmest regards,

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Mary Stucky

Round Earth media is a non-profit supporting young journalists around the world, enabling them to find and tell stories the world needs to hear.

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