Kim Newton, center, with the UA School of Journalism, discusses multimedia production participants in the Afghanistan Journalism Education Enhancement Program taking place in Hyderabad, India July 4. (Photo by Maggy Zanger)
Two University of Arizona journalism professors are in Hyderabad, India, helping journalism professors from Afghanistan develop a professional curriculum for their journalism departments.
Professors Kim Newton and Maggy Zanger are working with 20 Afghan journalism professors from four universities as part of a two-week workshop emphasizing multimedia techniques that can be transferred to classrooms and to developing student-produced news media. Six professors from other U.S. universities are assisting with the training, part of the $1 million, three-year effort, funded by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, to strengthen journalism curricula in Afghan universities.
“It’s been a great experience to work hands-on with these Afghan professors, especially to understand their needs and be able to modify the curriculum we are working on to meet their actual needs,” says Newton, who teaches photojournalism and multimedia classes at the UA and is developing similar courses for Nangarhar University in Jalalabad, the university with whom the UA is partnered.
Participants in the India workshop are generating multimedia stories that are posted to a website. The professors are in the field producing television news packages, photo slide shows and written stories so they can transfer their experiences to their own students and assist them in gaining hands-on journalism skills.
Most Afghan journalism professors are hired out of college with bachelor’s degrees and many lack professional experience, explained Zanger, director of the Arizona-Afghan project. The objective of the partnerships is to update Afghan journalism programs to international standards.
Zanger directs the three-year project with Nangarhar University, which began its journalism program last September with 158 students; 123 are moving on to the second year of study toward their bachelor’s degree. Another 250 students will begin the program this fall. Three of their faculty members are in India for the training program.
The training so far has been popular with the trainees.
“I’ve learned new things here,” says Ahamd Zia Ferozpur, a professor from Balkh University in Mazar-e-Sharif, who has participated in other training, including at San Jose State University who is partnered with his school. “We’re working here on student media and multimedia to meet the needs of our students.”
Funded by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, the project also teams the U.S. and Afghan universities with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), a media development non-profit organization that has been training Afghans to be journalists since 2004. Zanger started IWPR’s training centers in Iraq in 2003.
At the UA, Zanger focuses on Middle East journalism, specifically on analyzing media coverage of international crises. She also was a faculty member at the American University in Cairo, and the director of the publications program of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University.