Institute for International Journalism

From August 2013 to December 2015, I worked many different positions with the Institute for International Journalism at Ohio University with director Yusuf Kalyango. I started off as a PACE intern and from there moved up to an ambassador for the institute. During this time, I did social media, advertising, event planning and blogging for the institute. 

Moscow Correspondent Travels US to Study American Media

By Cassie Kelly | October 13, 2013

Simon Kruse Rasmussen, Moscow foreign correspondent for Danish daily Berlingske, visited Athens Oct. 6th through the 10th as part of a fellowship with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Kruse has been covering politics in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Central Asia for the past seven years. During his visit, Kruse spoke to classes about the current struggles of being a foreign correspondent and discussed ways to change the downward slope of the industry. 

Prior to visiting Athens, Kruse's journey has taken him through Washington D.C., New York and Kentucky. Beginning his travels in mid-Sept., Kruse said he has been given a greater sense of how the American journalism industry operates.  He has had the opportunity to meet with such media outlets as: the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post and Buzzfeed.

Kruse found Buzzfeed’s newsroom particularly interesting, because instead of cutting back on hiring correspondents, they have just hired their first foreign editor. He said that although the entertaining cat posts still remain, they are shifting their focus to investigative journalism.

“They are going into serious journalism, and have a very interesting business model,” Kruse said. 
Aside from foreign correspondence, Kruse also has an interest in Environmental Journalism. While on leave from his position at the Berlingske, he has begun work on an energy project for the Daily, taking him to Chattanooga, Tennessee’s 23rd Annual Society of Environmental Journalists conference. His focus is the comparison of fracking and renewable energy procedures to responses found in Europe.

“Europe will probably fall in the footsteps of the US regarding fracking. But, there has been a lot of local opposition,” Kruse said.

With a notable interest in fracking and environmental journalism, the Scripps School of Journalism was a good fit for Kruse’s American tour, making it the first university he has visited in the States. He said he loves how the town is centered around the university, in contrast to many European institutions, and that he greatly enjoyed talking to students. Kruse also spoke with WOUB's Tom Hodsonabout his research and career as a foreign correspondent in Russia.

When speaking to classes about foreign reporting, he referenced a survey he conducted in 2012, illustrating heavy cutbacks in the industry. His study found that Denmark went from 60 foreign correspondents in 1998 to just 39 in 2012. Additionally, the number of Russian correspondents has dropped from five in 1998 to one in 2012— that one being Kruse. One concern he noted is that while he has observed media outlets hiring more freelance reporters, these journalists are unable to make a living.

“If they don’t have a regular contract or can only sell a few stories a month, we risk ending up with a mixed model,” Kruse explained. “The reporters end up writing books or tour guiding.”

Through his fellowship with CSIS, Kruse is trying to find solutions to this dilemma. He believes there is a lot of potential in networking and combining forces with other foreign reporters.
“We are not competitors, we are colleagues,” Kruse said.

Kruse said there is also a huge potential for foreign correspondence in social media where reporters can follow readers and get eyewitness accounts, enhancing their stories.

Kruse also shared his experience as a Danish reporter in Moscow. He said he recognizes having a unique advantage over Russian journalists covering politics, as he does not have to appease the strict Russian government system. He has seen that if Russian journalists find a critical story, they will not publish it because they risk being fired or their paper being shut down.

“They’re always walking the line. Its not censorship, its self-censorship,” Kruse said. “They know what is controversial so many of them will not publish.”

Social media in Russia, on the other hand, is very decentralized, and an instrument for sharing all ideas.
“It’s a really important tool because they cannot really stop it from spreading,” Kruse said, referring to the government.

Kruse’s visit was made possible through a partnership between CSIS and the Scripps School of Journalism, initiated by Scripps Professor Andy Alexander. Kruse’s talks on foreign correspondence will continue out west to North Dakota, Texas and California.

 Read the original post on The Institute for International Journalism's blog, here

Jeff Widener Shares Experiences as Associated Press Photographer

By Cassie Kelly | October 2, 2013

One of the most iconic photos ever taken, “Tank Man” depicts a man halting four tanks during China’s Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. Associated Press photographer Jeff Widener shared his experience capturing this moment, and others like it, during his visit last week to Athens. 

Before his position at AP, Widener worked for various newspapers across the country. He describes his career as a rollercoaster, going from paper to paper without much money in between. Nevertheless, he describes persevering through the ups and downs, always managing to keep in touch with Hal Buell, head of photography at AP.

Buell consistently kept in touch with Widener, telling him whether any positions opened up, but the timing had never been right. One day, however, recently unemployed Widener got a call from Buell. He told Widener there was a position available and asked if Widener could travel to the Philippines. Without hesitation, Widener said yes. In a quick turn of events the offer changed to a position in Bangkok, a place Widener had long-standing suspicions he would eventually end up.

“I just left the job at the LA Sun and I couldn’t afford a pack of gum. The next minute, I’m sipping champagne in the cabin of a 747 to Bangkok,” Widener said. “Just goes to show you how fast events in life can change.”

Widener worked with AP from 1987 until 1995 and considers his position there his greatest accomplishment. While getting dropped into dangerous situations with only his camera, Widener would take the most noteworthy photographs of his AP career, including “Tank Man.”

Widener specifically noted the ever-changing nature of his position – from being pampered in New York staying in five star hotels to flying to dangerous places like Sri Lanka, to shoot the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam riots. Soon enough he began to wonder how much longer he could live through all of the adventures.

“In fact, I started worrying about the fact that I might actually get killed,” Widener said.

When Widener looks back at Tiananmen, he said that while it has opened a lot of doors for him, he wants his legacy to be something greater.

“[I want] to be remembered for a body of work, not just a lucky shot,” Widener said. He is currently working on publishing his first book, which he plans to call “Beyond Tiananmen.”

“I’ve risked a lot in my life. I’d like people to know I was on the planet… Jeff Widener was here,” he added

Widener hopes his book will not only highlight his photos from Southeast Asia, including the Tiananmen uprising, but also depict his experiences while shooting those photos.

During Widener’s visit to Ohio University he explained to students that if they truly wanted something, it would happen for them.

“If you can get passed the obstacles and look at them as challenges and feel good about yourself when you get passed those challenges, than you are definitely going to make it,“ he said.

Widener sees media photography geared more toward quantity than quality these days, which he said he finds sad. He has watched new photojournalists being pressured to take catchy photos rather than capturing a moment or triggering an emotion through their images. His advice to photojournalists is to think visually and more carefully.

“You feel a picture, you don’t shoot it,” Widener said. “If your heart skips a beat, if it reminds you of a lover or an old song, than you succeeded.”

This visit was made possible by the School of Visual Communications, the Institute for International Journalism, particularly with the help of Dr. Bob Stewart, Director of the E. W. Scripps School of Journalism.

Read the original story on the Institute for International Journalism's blog, here