Professional Media Training in the CIS and Russian Far East

Article excerpt

Journalism training programs in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are numerous, and are not monitored by any one body internationally or even nationally. This massive training effort, a sort of mini-Marshall Plan, is being undertaken by many organizations, in many different countries, on a piecemeal basis.

Alaskan training activities

In 1992, USIA put out a Request for Proposals for the CIS which included a media training component. The Journalism and Broadcasting Department at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks received $82.220 for a project for journalism and media management training in Yakutsk, Sakha Republic. The project began in June 1993, included a 30-day training visit by eight Russian journalists to Fairbanks, and will conclude in May 1994 with a training and evaluation visit to Yakutsk by three American journalism faculty members and six local media professionals.

During the month's training in Fairbanks, all eight trainees spent the first two weeks in the Department of Journalism and Broadcasting. Three faculty members lectured on all aspects of American journalism, including theory, history, law, ethics, criticism, advertising, and public relations. Each afternoon they were trained to write news stories on computers equipped with Russian fonts. During the last two weeks, the four print journalists spent each day at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner learning from the editorial, business, advertising and distribution departments. The four broadcast trainees spent the last two weeks in the studios of KTVF, the CBS affiliate. Here they learned mainly from the station manager and the advertising manager, although they spent some time observing local news production and electronic editing on new equipment. Two news pieces were produced and aired on this television station.

These journalists and media managers were excellent students. They absorbed everything, continually asked questions, engaged us in constant debate on the merits of our commercial media and freedom of expression, and on the problems facing their newspapers and television stations. Many training sessions turned out to be a wonderful exchange of information. We provided them with audiovisual and written materials in Russian, computer programs for use at home, and textbooks in their areas of interest. It was an intensive, exhausting experience but very satisfying. We also took them sight-seeing, to cultural events, and on tours of the local media.

The department received a $81,000 extension to this grant from USIA through the newly created American Russian Center in Anchorage. This second phase will build upon the initial project. Six journalists from radio, television, and newspapers will spend six weeks as interns in Alaska in July and August 1994. These interns will learn aspects of management as well as news-production techniques. The grant also includes funds for one of our faculty to visit Yakutsk for three months, to assist with the development of a new journalism department at Yakutsk State University. A side-visit to St. Petersburg will enable study of the journalism department, perhaps for use as a model. The station manager of the local CBS affiliate who worked with the trainees last summer will accompany the faculty member. She will continue to train independent television station managers for a month.

The Department of Journalism and Public Communication at the University of Alaska at Anchorage will soon begin a training and exchange program with journalists from Magadan, Magadan Province, in the Russian Far East. Journalists from Anchorage will visit Magadan and assist the media with business reporting. UAA received a $70,000 grant from the Russian American Center in Anchorage. Contact: Dr. Fred Pearce, (907) 786-1506.

Anchorage's public radio station KSKA-FM is training 10 radio journalists from Magadan, and Provideniya and Anadyr, Chukotka Province, in the Russian Far East, supported by a grant of $110,000 from USAID through the Eurasia Foundation. …