Ukrainian journalists and students share experiences

As originally posted here.

Eight Ukrainian journalists visited the Department of Journalism and Media Studies on Oct. 7, to share their life experiences as journalists in their country.

“They’re very curious in what we do and I think we’re curious in what they do,” said Robert Dardenne, chair and associate professor in the journalism department, who hosted the event.

The journalists came from different parts of the Ukraine to learn about journalism in the United States. The group previously toured the Media General building in Tampa, which houses News Channel 8, the Tampa Tribune and TBO.com. The group planned to visit the St. Petersburg Times.

“It was great to meet with the Ukrainian journalists and learn about news media in a different country,” said Amanda Decker, a graduate student in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies. “Seeing an outside perspective gives the students here the opportunity to reflect on our own system of education and media practices.”

With aid from a translator, the group spoke at length about various issues, such as shield laws, access to information, and journalism education in the Ukraine. The group also asked questions about journalism in the U.S.

“I was shocked at the fact that the Ukrainian government has their own government-run news station, although the visiting journalists did say that the government station is not as popular as the privately-owned ones,” Decker said.

Dardenne explained many facets of the American media to the Ukrainian journalists, from the decline in print media to the emergence of blogging as a media force. Students added to the exchange about life in the journalism program.

“The ownership structure of the media around the country always interests me and Ukrainian, and other countries in that area have similar structures or have structures that are far different from ours in a lot of ways,” Dardenne said.

Government-owned media is prevalent in other countries, Dardenne said, though government-produced news is not often popular.

“But they don’t have to worry about advertising, because government pays for it. Then they have corporate-owned media, individual-owned media and independent media,” he said. “They have a much more complex media structure than we do. That makes for a lot of different ideas for sure, but there’s also a lot of competition.”

One common trend American and Ukrainian journalists share is the need for the journalist to be more self-sufficient. One Ukrainian journalist recalled telling an upstart reporter to learn to shoot with a camera.

“Ukraine, like many of the other countries in that area, for a long time were under the influence of the Soviet Union,” Dardenne said. “Institutions in that area were heavily influenced by Soviet ideology.”

The structure of universities began to evolve after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, Dardenne said.

“There are still divisions in those universities between the old Soviet ideologues and the newer Ukraine scholars and academics coming up. Journalism as a practical curriculum is not as prevalent there as it is here,” he said. “It is more theoretical that might be the Soviet influence. It’s more of a theoretical discussion than a practical. I think they’re growing. I’ve talked to a lot of people from that area in the world. It’s changing.”

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About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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