Allison Shirk Collins (at right in the photo in Morocco) called me from her home in Chattanooga, Tennessee on a peaceful Sunday afternoon with her “fur baby,” as she affectionately calls her dog, Ginger, on the couch next to her and her new husband in the kitchen. Collins, 26, is a local business reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press— not the job she might have expected while a journalism student on the SIT Study Abroad/Round Earth Media program in Morocco.
CASABLANCA—At the edge of the city sits Les Abattoirs, a crumbling cathedral of art-deco architecture that served as the city’s slaughterhouse for more than a century. After the last generation of butchers left in 2002 the nearly 14-acre complex became the unlikely home of a public art movement in a city where art, fighting uphill against a lack of space, funding, and free expression, struggles to be accessible. Les Abattoirs changed that, bringing free performances, workshops, and concerts to the industrial, working-class neighborhood of Hay Mohammadi.
You’re in for a treat! Please meet Round Earth’s magnificent interns — all from my alma mater, Carleton College. They decided to ask each other questions — about working at Round Earth, about journalism, and more. Here they are!
Ellie Zimmerman: I am a sophomore at Carleton College hailing from Washington, DC. I’m probably going to major in either History or Religion, but who’s to say, really?
That’s me, very early one morning this week (and a little sleep deprived), connecting with our team in South Africa. Saam Jalinous is shown here, a student at Wesleyan. In the audience — our other American journalism students and two of South Africa’s most acclaimed professional journalists (the students’ Round Earth mentors), Martine Barker and Jonathan Ancer. The students presented their feature stories — and their experiences reporting them —
Sexual harassment, threats, attacks, government oppression, a stubborn glass ceiling, unequal pay, accusations of fake news and a growing mistrust of the media all threaten press freedom around the world. And female journalists often feel the greatest brunt of these attacks. In fact, the number of female journalists killed in 2017 more than tripled from the year before.
As tempting as it is for Americans to focus attention inward as American democracy feels like it is imploding, it is vital to remember that the United States is still a power that reaches into lives, and sometimes deals death, around the world. If Chinua Achebe’s famously wise words were right, if evil really does thrive best in “quiet, untidy corners,” then foreign correspondents must persevere there.
That’s Christina Goldbaum, a 2014 college graduate and a new reporter with The New York Times.
Legacy media is in trouble. Over the last ten years, ad revenue abandoned newspapers and magazines. Hedge funds and private equity firms bought up newspapers and, with their unrelenting focus on the bottom line, cut newsroom staff even further. Many newspapers found they could no longer cover their communities. Despite some hopeful push-back from journalists themselves (at theDenver Post journalists are fighting backagainst their owners), the future is not bright. Print revenue is expected to continue to decline with years of more losses.
I began reporting for NPR in the 1970s, just a few years after the network was founded. In those halcyon days, we had a lot of time to fill and so we were encouraged to do long interviews and highly produced, sound-rich stories. Those days are gone, except when it comes to podcasts which now — to my delight — have gone global. Especially in regions of the world with rich story-telling traditions.
As you know, Round Earth Media is based on the idea that the best international journalism is created in partnership. An American and a journalist from the country where the story is taking place, working together in equal partnership, their important, under-reported stories reaching audiences in both countries.
Guia Baggi and Zanna McKay joined up as reporting partners for Round Earth in Italy in 2013. The first story they covered was for PRI’s The World and Wired.it about an Italian rapper who brought the struggles of unemployed Italian youths to the fore.
They’re calling it “the Trump effect,” a surge in the number of students enrolled in journalism schools. While there is no national data yet, a recent story in The Washington Post reports the following:
At the University of Maryland, freshman enrollment in the journalism school is up 50 percent.
At Northwestern University’s journalism school, undergraduate applications rose 24 percent.
At Syracuse University, more students are signing up for investigative and political reporting classes that in recent years had been cancelled for lack of interest.