Drs. Radokkovic and Milivojevic participated in a faculty exchange program in February.

Two Serbian Journalism Professors Spend Month Visiting University of Georgia, Clark Atlanta University

During a meeting with University of Georgia faculty and graduate students in February, two Serbian professors participating in a faculty exchange program highlighted an important difference between journalism education at their home institutions and at the Georgia university.

“Our approach is more theoretical,” said Dr. Miroljub Radojkovic, head of the Journalism Department of the University of Belgrade. At the same time, he added, “social and political changes in Serbia and Montenegro have impacted the media industry, and we will try to redesign our curriculum to respond to this new situation.”

Dr. Radokkovic made those comments in a session he and his colleague, Dr. Snjezana Milivojevic, also a faculty member in the Journalism Department at the University of Belgrade, had near the end of a month-long stay at the University of Georgia.

He said he was struck at times by similarities and differences in the U.S. and Serbian discussions of journalism.

“It is interesting,” Dr. Radojkovic said, “how the same word can have different meaning. When we speak about public media, we have in mind the public service television or radio. Here, Professor (Conrad) Fink spoke in his class about public-owned media as organizations owned by a large number of shareholders.”

The faculty exchange is a part of a three-year project funded by a $195,000 grant to the University of Georgia from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State. Total cost of the three-year project, including the contributions of the three universities, is more than $300,000.

The program has been designed and is coordinated by the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research, a unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. The Department of Mass Media Arts at Clark Atlanta University also is a partner in the project, which involves faculty exchanges in each of the three years of the project as well as a workshop on some phase of journalism education or journalism practice each year.

The Department of Journalism of the University of Belgrade is the most prestigious mass communication education program in Serbia and Montenegro. Journalism is one of four units within the College of Political Sciences. The other units are the Department of Political Science, the Department for Social Policy and Social Work, and the Department for International Relations.

“The month we’ve spent in Athens has been very useful from a professional point of view,” said Dr. Milivojevic. “It will also help us tell our colleagues who will participate in future exchanges what they should expect in terms of living in a U.S. university city.”

“I have been in the United States several times, and it is always interesting to me to examine cultural differences from one region to another,” said Dr. Radojkovic.

The Serbian visitors’ program included meetings with UGA and CAU faculty and students and lectures and informal presentations. The pair also visited the UGA student newspaper, The Red & Black, CNN, and the Athens Banner Herald.

During the visit to Clark Atlanta University, Drs. Milivojevic and Radojkovic met with Professor James McJunkins, who described the curriculum of the Department of Mass Media Arts. The guests also met with Wendy Williams, the general manager of the CAU radio station, WCLK.

“In Serbia, radio is still a major source of information for many people,” Dr. Radojkovic said during the meeting with students in Professor Bill Clark’s radio programming class. “There are radio programs that have adopted a more entertainment-oriented program, based on the U.S. model.”

“The media situation in Serbia is very dynamic,” Dr. Milivojevic said. “There are too many media organizations for a pretty small number of potential advertisers. Only those with innovative managers will survive.”

During the one-month program, Dr. Milivojevic, who is the Serbian director of the partnership program, focused mostly on media management and research, while Dr. Radojkovic’s main interest was media law and ethics.

Every week they had meetings with Dr. Lee B. Becker and Dr. Tudor Vlad, Cox Center director and assistant director, respectively, to discuss the schedule and to plan the next phases of the program.

During these meeting the team made a decision to hold a workshop in Belgrade in May 2005 that would examine journalism education models in the United States and in Europe.

Dr. Becker said the collaboration with the Department of Journalism of the Belgrade University and with the Department of Mass Media Arts at CAU is a major accomplishment of the Cox Center.

“This project is beneficial to all the three journalism programs that are involved in it,” Dr. Becker said. He said one goal is to develop joint research projects that will involve faculty and students.

During that session with graduates and faculty at the end of the visit, Drs. Milivojevic and Radojkovic answered other questions from the audience members about freedom of the press in East and Central Europe, the political situation in the Balkans, media coverage of the inter-ethnic conflict in former Yugoslavia, and the role of the academic environment during a time of political oppression.

“I think we should all reflect on the role of the university in critical times,” Dr. Becker, the director of the Cox Center said. “Think about the period preceding the war in Iraq,” he said.

“Were the UGA students interested in serious debates about the causes and the consequences of a war?” he said. “And were they offered such debates?”