Diaspora Media Initiative
Globalization, migration, and increased media consumption and communication technologies present interesting dynamics in trying to understand the shifting mediascape of communication among Diaspora communities, their homelands, and host countries.

Diaspora Media Initiative explores how journalists in the Diaspora are contributing to global understanding in a networked world and how Diaspora media supports the diffusion of knowledge about other parts of the world.
Diaspora communities notably migrants, refugees, sojourners, exiles, expatriates, and all immigrants make use of the news media in different ways. Immigrant journalists and civil society activists engage in the production and distribution of content that reflects their cultural experiences and identities. The relationship of media and people on a global basis has implications for national media and cultures, international cooperation and solidarity, good governance, and evolution of global citizenship.

As part of its Diaspora Media Initiative, Center for Media & Peace Initiative and Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration have developed curriculum for a certificate program on Media and Governance. The project was preceded by a major conference on media and democratic governance which targeted international journalists.

Caption for 2nd photo: From L-R: Kevin Whitmer, Editor of New Jersey’s Star Ledger, Dr. Michael Gershowitz, Prof. Sheila Coronel, Director of Stanbile Center for Investigative Journalism, Columbia School of Journalism, and Dr. Uchenna Ekwo, President of Center for Media & Peace Initiatives

Conference on Media and Democratic Governance
Journalists from the around the world will converge on Rutgers University campus in Newark on June 8, 2012 for a one-day conference to improve reporting in and from countries that are hostile to an open press. Newspaper, radio, TV, and online journalists from 20 or more countries are expected to participate. The conference is co-sponsored by the Center for Media & Peace Initiatives, a New York-based organization of journalists from around the world and School of Public Affairs and Administration, Rutgers University.

Dr. Marc Holzer, Dean of the School of Public Affairs and Administration, said “journalists are essential links between government and citizens. How they report the news can inhibit or promote governance that is honest and effective. We therefore look forward to developing a relationship with news people who seek to improve how their countries are governed.”

“Diaspora journalists have the capacity to inspire change in undemocratic countries with news sources of information to scrutinize their home governments, orchestrating international pressure against unpopular policies”, Dr. Uchenna Ekwo, President of CMPI said. “Most journalists are trained in the art and science of reporting, but they have not received training in the content of government or public affairs. Our partnership with Rutgers is designed to fill that gap.”

The June 8 conference is the first in the series of a planned series of events to improve reporting in and from countries that lack free press. It will be followed by a week-long institute, featuring more in-depth examination of the issues, and a four-course online certificate program taught by Rutgers faculty.

The courses, each five weeks long, are:

1. Public Performance Measurement – tools for assessing government efficiency and effectiveness
2. Journalism and Government – the relationship between reporters and media, working with bureaucrats and public agencies.
3. Political Culture – how to understand and work effectively within the culture of the reporters’ home countries.
4. Policy Analysis – how to understand and report government plans and actions, including public budgets.

Many journalists around the world report in or to countries not known for good governance. Corruption, inefficiency, authoritarianism and constraints on the press are common.  As a result,  journalists from these places are not acquainted with performance and integrity except as abstractions.   America, by contrast, is a democratic society generally considered to experience good governance as well as an open and inquisitive press.  This project will educate journalists in Diaspora notably from five continents, but especially from sub-Saharan Africa, in good governance and how to inspire positive social change in their home countries.  As a result, they will develop skills for analyzing their home governments and advocating for improved transparency and productivity.  The beneficiaries will be editors and reporters representing newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations and online media.
To implement this project, CMPI approached the School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) at  Rutgers University in Newark, NJ.  Together, we designed plans for a weeklong face-to-face institute and a semester-long online certificate program.  SPAA is the 7th ranked public administration program in the nation, out of about 300 (US News & World Report, 2012).  Rutgers-Newark is also ranked 1st in the nation in diversity.
A committee representing DJF members and SPAA faculty developed a program of instruction that will improve the journalists’ ability to understand effective governance and advocate accountability on the part of public officials.  Details of the programs follow:

The Institute holds in summer on the Rutgers-Newark campus. It features a series of two-hour sessions conducted during one intensive week.  Some are led by a single presenter, while others use a panel format.  All are interactive and aimed at building skills.  An important benefit of the face-to-face format is that it enables journalists from around the world to network with one another to share ideas and experiences.  Immediately following the on-campus program, there are three days of field trips to meet with American journalists in the Metropolitan New York area.  The field trips include visits to newspapers, radio and TV newsrooms and online sites.  We expect journalists to attend the institute, and the field trips.  To keep costs down, room and board will be in Rutgers student dormitories which are unused in the summer.
The online certificate program will be four courses.  Persons satisfactorily completing all four will be awarded a Rutgers diploma-style certificate and an official transcript.

The certificate courses are:
1.       Public performance measurement – tools for assessing government efficiency and effectiveness.
2.       Journalism and government – the relationship between reporters and media, working with bureaucrats and public agencies.
3.       Political culture – how to understand and work effectively within the culture of the reporters’ home countries.
4.       Policy analysis – how to understand and report government plans and actions, including public budgets.

Courses will be offered online, asynchronously.  This makes them accessible to journalists with busy schedules and located in different time zones.  Each course will be five weeks in duration, with one week between courses.  The program duration will thus be about six months.
Both the institute and the certificate program will bring about lasting, visible change in how news is reported.  In preparation for their careers, journalists everywhere learn the craft but not the news content.  Most start out as generalists.  Some eventually come to specialize in public affairs, but learn the subject on-the-job, without formal education.  The institute and the certificate program will give those who take them substantive knowledge that will indelibly change their perspective.
Newark, New Jersey is 10 miles from downtown New York, a 20-minute train ride.  This proximity is desirable, since New York is a media capital of the world.  Yet, being in Newark rather than New York enables lower pricing for meals and housing.  In addition to SPAA’s 25 full-time faculty and adjuncts, resources include the faculty of Rutgers’ American Studies program which includes journalism major and a well-resourced reference library.

For more details please visit: http://libguides.rutgers.edu/diaspora




Leave a Reply