Media Literacy Summer Camp Brings Prominent Journalists on AUBG Campus

July 08, 2019

20 high school students from all corners of Bulgaria arrived on AUBG campus for the week-long Media Literacy Summer Camp June 30 – July 7. Jointly organized by the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) and the Fulbright Commission, in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria, the project brought together Bulgaria’s aspiring journalists and media professionals from around the globe.

U.S. Ambassador H.E. Eric Rubin, AUBG Interim President Dr. David Evans and Angela Rodel, Executive Director at Fulbright Bulgaria and member of the AUBG Board of Trustees, welcomed the camp’s participants at AUBG’s Balkanski Academic Center July 1. Rubin, who himself spent two years working as a training journalist at New York Times, spoke about the principles of media ethics, the must-have qualities of a successful journalist and the opportunities and challenges for the profession.

The Media Literacy Summer Camp has two major aims, Rodel said. “One is giving people the idea of how to be smarter about their consumption of media,” she said. “There is also a smaller subset of students who want to become journalists. [The project] aims to give them a realistic view, to give them training, to inspire them, to put them in touch with some of the leading Bulgarian journalists so that they get a sense that they are part of a community. (…) We hope some of these kids will be the next faces we see on Bulgarian television, the next investigative journalists.”

The 20 participants in the project were selected following an essay competition on Scool Media, a platform where students create journalistic content with the help of professional editors. During the media camp, the high school students got the chance to learn from some of the most recognizable names in media.

Simon Adler, producer at popular U.S. podcast channel Radiolab, taught them how to make a podcast; BBC News YouTube Editor Marko Zoric revealed the secrets to successful digital storytelling; Freelance journalist, poet, literary critic and translator Dimiter Kenarov told them how to find stories; TV host at bTV Ivan Georgiev spoke about the role of public interest journalism; Boryana Dzhambazova, freelance journalist and member of AEJ Bulgaria, gave her insights on successful interview techniques; Robin Brinkworth of UK’s first school newsroom network The Student View spoke about debunking disinformation online; founder of AEJ Bulgaria Maria Cheresheva outlined the journalistic genres and the successful storytelling techniques; digital specialist Fani Bachvarova discussed journalism in the era of social media and Boris Pintev of bTV and human rights photographer Jodi Hilton hosted video and  photography workshops.

At the age of 17, camp participant Boryana Simeonova already has journalistic experience working as a radio host in her hometown of Stara Zagora. “[The media camp] seemed like the perfect opportunity to gain more knowledge and develop my skills,” she said, adding that she wants to work as a journalist in Bulgaria. “Bulgaria offers opportunities for journalists. The key is to work hard and with passion.”

Aleksandar Ivanov, 16, from Burgas also wants to help advance journalism in Bulgaria and said the camp helped him improve his skills and knowledge. “I learned how to spot fake news; I learned how to find stories and how to write stories; I learned about social media in journalism and how to use social media platforms to spread news.”

Both students said they hope to study Journalism and Mass Communication at AUBG upon graduation. The Media Literacy Summer Camp taking place on AUBG campus was “a natural partnership,” Rodel said. “Of course, AUBG is a fantastically beautiful place and it also has a really strong Journalism and Mass Communication, it is known as one of the best places for media education in Bulgaria,” Rodel said. “It is great for high school students to come here and experience the campus life because I think a lot of AUBG’s mission is critical thinking, asking questions, learning how to write, learning how to process and present information.”

Story by Dimana Doneva

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