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Writing for Media Class at AUBG Examines International Press Freedom

March 12, 2019

Home to students coming from over 40 countries, every year AUBG celebrates diversity with a series of events known as International Week. This semester, the writing for media class taught by JMC Professor Laura Kelly decided to take part in the week-long event with a project that investigates media freedom around the world.

The International [PRESS FREEDOM] Week is a collection of stories that offer insights into the current state of media in 22 countries. The students based their research on Freedom House’s Freedom in the World report for 2019 and the Reporters Without Borders’ latest World Press Freedom Index.

“I like to make assignments that have something to do with the real world,” Kelly said. “So, I assigned everyone a country and the students made all these stories. I chose countries that have either dramatically changed or are doing pretty poorly so that the students have to invest a little bit more into the political situation in these countries.”

Cynthia Addoumieh, a JMC student from Syria who wants to work as a war correspondent and political documentary film-maker, researched the state of media freedom in Saudi Arabia. The Middle East country was put under the spotlight of media attention after a Saudi journalist was killed in Turkey last year. “I already knew about the media situation in Saudi Arabia because it was all over the news,” Addoumieh said. “But I didn’t know the numbers of journalists arrested or imprisoned there. (…) During the assignment, I learned more about other countries, I learned more about Bulgaria, I learned a lot of new media watchdog organizations that I didn’t know much about.”

Olena Dmytrenko, AUBG senior coming from Ukraine and majoring in political science, took the class in journalism to challenge herself. “I am used to writing these academic papers and writing for media is very different,” she said. “We have to write in a style that is more accessible to more people.” Dmytrenko was assigned to research Eritrea—a relatively small country on the coast of Africa. “I found out that it is one of the countries that suffer from lack of media freedom,” she said. “In fact, Eritrea only competes with North Korea for the last place.”

The class assignment aimed to achieve two main goals, Kelly said. First, to teach students to “take sources of information and weave them together, to make sure they are credible, to take information and present it in a smooth and understandable format,” she said. And secondly, “make all of us more aware of what is happening around the globe.”

Story by Dimana Doneva

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