Dr. Lee Becker at the Uzhhorod workshop.

Workshops in Ukrainian Cities of Lviv and Uzhhorod Focus on Trends and Problems in Journalism Education

Journalism educators from universities in Western Ukraine joined in workshops held in the cities of Lviv and Uzhhorod in April to discuss curricular trends in journalism education around the world, the difficulty of finding funds to equip laboratories for broadcast journalism and approaches to teaching journalism.

Ukrainian participants came from the Department of Journalism at Franko National University, the Department of Publishing and Editing of the Ukrainian Academy of Printing, and the Department of Military Journalism at the Polytechnic Institute all in Lviv, and the Department of Philology and Journalism at Uzhhorod National University in Uzhhorod.

The workshops were organized by the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research and IREX ProMedia/Ukraine.

The Cox Center is a unit of the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication of the University of Georgia. IREXProMedia/Ukraine is a program funded by USAID and is designed to foster the development of independent media in Ukraine. It operatesPress Centers in the Ukrainian Capital of Kyiv and Simferopol in in Crimea.

Workshop participants explained how journalism was taught at their universities and engaged in exercises to develop model curricula in journalism generally and in the specific area of online journalism, that is, journalism for news sites on the Internet.

The Lviv workshop was held April 8 to 10 at the Internet Access and Training Program operated by IREX in Lviv and April 11 to 13 at the School of Economics of Uzhhorod National University in Uzhhorod. Eight professors participated in the Lviv workshops and nine professors participated in the workshop in Uzhhorod. In addition, two students in their final year of studies at Uzhhorod joined the discussions.

During the workshop, Dr. Tudor Vlad, Visiting Research Scientist in the Cox Center, outlined the curriculum he developed at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, after the fall of communism, and Dr. Lee B. Becker, Director of the Cox Center, explained the curriculum of the Grady College at the University of Georgia.

Dr. Vlad explained that one key difference between his curriculum and that at American universities is that students take all their courses during their four years of study within the Department of Journalism, while in American students typically take only about a third of their courses within the journalism unit and take the rest from other departments throughout the university.

Dr. Vlad explained that as department head he invited professors from law, economics and other fields to teach specialized courses in journalism for his students. The strategy did not always work, he said, because the professors sometimes taught their normal courses rather than one's designed specifically for the journalism students, making the courses comparable to those taught to students in America.

Dr. Vlad also explained that he developed a specialized curriculum for advertising and public relations at his university because of "pressures from the market." He said that many companies in Romania have the need for trained professionals in these areas, and students, realizing the job opportunities, asked for courses in advertising and public relations.

Considerable time was spent both in Lviv and Uzhhorod talking about the difficulties of offering broadcast journalism, which is expensive because of equipment needs, demands for specialized space, and the requirement that the journalism department hire trained technicians.

Dr. Vlad told the group that he arranged for journalism students to use the facilities of the local broadcast media in Cluj-Napocca by negotiating with the directors of the local media. In some cases these directors became the instructors for the courses.

Most American universities also struggle with the expenses of equipping broadcast studios, Dr. Becker said. He said that the Grady College was fortunate to have received government and industry support for its facilities, but he said many other universities, including some where he has been a professor, have been much less successful in solving this problem.

At Uzhhorod, the journalism program has made arrangements to use the studios of the local broadcast media, but several faculty said the directors of these studios were reluctant to let students actually use the equipment, which is expensive and can be easily damaged.

Dr. Becker said some American universities have dropped broadcast journalism from their curricula because of the expense and instead teach basic journalism courses without reference to technology. Students are taught the basics of reporting, which should be basically the same regardless of whether for print or broadcast or even the Internet, and then taught the differing writing styles for the various media.

The workshops also included discussions of the importance of ethnic diversity in journalism education and using student-centered learning techniques.

Dr. Vlad indicated that he developed autonomous programs in his Department of Journalism at Babes-Bolyai University for students using Romanian, Hungarian and German languages.

Workshop participants discussed the limitations of a lecture format of instruction and the advantages of engaging students actively in the learning process. The goal of a student-centered instructional approach is to help students gain critical thinking skills and become life-long-learners, Dr. Becker said.

The workshops in Lviv and Uzhhorod were the third and fourth offered by the Cox Center in collaboration with IREX ProMedia/Ukraine. In 2000 the Center organized a workshop in Yalta on audience research methods and in 2001 the Center presented a workshop in Kyiv on reporting about environmental health issues.

"We feel we have a lack of experience and resources in journalism education," Yurij Bidzillya, head of the journalism program at Uzhorod said at the workshop. The Uzhhorod program was started only five years ago. "We want to be responsive to the new trends in journalism education."

"I am extremely impressed with the journalism faculty we met in both these cities," Dr. Becker said. "It was a pleasure to talk with them and learn of their programs and their interest in what in happening in journalism education elsewhere."

"If we really want to address the issues of journalism in emerging democracies," Dr. Vlad said, "We have to raise the level of journalism education."

The Cox Center houses a program of research on journalism education in the United States. Each year the Center conducts research on enrollments in U.S. journalism program and tracks the graduates of these programs once they leave the university. These surveys are referred to as the Annual Surveys of Journalism & Mass Communication. The Center also is engaged in study of midcareer training in journalism.

Timothy P. O'Connor, resident adviser for IREX ProMedia/Ukraine, accompanied Drs. Vlad and Becker on the trips to Lviv and Uzhhorod and participated in the workshop discussions.

At the end of the workshop, Prof. Mykola Palinchak, Director of the Institute for Public Administration and Regional Development at Uzhhorod National University, presented certificates of appreciation to Tim O'Connor and Drs. Becker and Vlad. Prof. Palinchak has visited the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government as part of a program organized by the International Center for Democratic Governance of the Vinson Institute and initiated the contacts that led to the Uzhhorod workshop.