September Training for the Youth: from Basic Knowledge to Professional Subtleties

What did you remember this September by? Not just by content training for “media whales” in Kyiv. During the month young colleagues of our partner publications participated in a webinar – professional training as part of “Improving the Resilience of Ukrainian Media”. They defined the main tools and work norms of journalists, discussed the ethics of the profession, work with information, and much more. The trainer was Vivienne Marsh, an international expert, TV and radio journalist, researcher and university lecturer in media and journalism.

Such long-term “stream training” was organized for young journalists at the request of their editors who wanted to find development opportunities for their young colleagues. The objective problem of local publications is brain drain: staff have resigned, relocated or gone to war. The teams of most local newspapers, in the best case, would consist of two or three journalists, including an Editor who deals with every day operational matters and also fills the columns. Replenishment is always welcome, especially with young reporters with a fresh perspective, interest in the profession, and willingness to learn. But do they always have enough basic knowledge and practical skills…

So, they talked about ethics in journalism, public interest and credibility. Is censorship unacceptable or sometimes necessary? The discussion was of legal risks, danger of defamation, privacy and copyright. How to define news, separate facts from comments. It was about how to prepare news stories, check facts, in particular, from social media, and what tools a journalist has for this. How to prepare for an interview, ask questions, work with quotes or reported speech.

“There was a lot of discussion about verification, methods of checking facts in social media. This is not surprising given the urgent need to debunk fake news. Each trainee was also analyzed individually for their media materials. I am highly satisfied with the approaches to covering the topics. But the lack of resources and time are the most serious issues of editorial offices: the material collected via messenger or by phone will never be as complete as during the field work. Another important issue was the use of “overloaded” language; the participants recognized impartiality as an ideal principle, but made it clear that it is impossible to implement it in their editorial offices today,” commented Vivien Marsh on the work with the representatives of the editorial offices.

Here is the feedback of the trainees following the training.

“The basic journalism course was extremely useful for me, even though I had no experience in this sphere. Vivienne, our trainer, explained the material perfectly well, was always ready to answer any questions, and thanks to her, even my understanding of the English language improved. There was never a dull moment.”

“It turns out that not only practice is important in journalism, but also theory. I would really like to see this course extended, or make several separate modules about some psychological aspects in journalism. For example, when an interviewee is aggressive, behaves inappropriately, argues, provokes you, is critical. What do we do when the speaker declines to comment. How do we find common ground?”

“I would love more practical tasks, as well as more team-work. Thank you very much for the course!”

“There is a lot of information, interesting and somewhat new. I would like more experience, how exactly journalists work in other countries.”

The training was part of ‘Improving Media Resilience in Ukraine’ project implemented by IRMI together with Fondation Hirondelle and financed by Swiss Solidarity.


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