Foreign Correspondent Training Course, July 2013 - overview
Dates: 21-29 July, 2013
Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Standard fee: €1,185 or US$1,595 including accommodation
The TOL Foreign Correspondent course was a great introduction to international reporting that teaches participants how to carve out a place in a changing, but still fascinating profession and make it work financially. Course participants were trained by highly experienced foreign correspondents and complete a real-life reporting assignment under their guidance that can generate an invaluable clip for an early-career journalist. Trainees also learnt how to shoot illustrative photos to accompany their articles, an essential skill in a profession that increasingly values multimedia proficiency.
What did participants learn? By tapping into the trainers’ first-hand experiences, participants learnt the essential skills of international reporting, including:
how to break into foreign reporting;
how to quickly get acclimated in a foreign country;
pitching ideas to editors;
when and why to bypass official sources of information;
finding the story no one else has;
staying safe in dangerous and unpredictable places;
common mistakes that even seasoned professionals make;
and much more!
To see how the course really looks, hear from some of the trainers and TOL staff, and view participants as they report their stories, watch the six-minute video below.
Story-writing project The practical story-writing project was an important part of the course, giving participants the chance to apply their skills to a real-life reporting assignment – researching, writing and filing a story from Prague under the guidance of the trainers. Participants needed to do a bit of advance planning and research, so one of our instructors contacted them about a month ahead of the course to help them prepare. (For more information about the reporting project, have a look at Michael Jordan's article in Harvard's Nieman Reports.)
Nedim Dervisbegovic has worked as a multimedia producer for the Balkan Service of Prague-based Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) since 2009. He is responsible for online, multimedia, and social networks and has blogged and written articles for RFE/RL's English page on Balkan politics and other topics. In 2007, Nedim became the first editor in chief of RadioSarajevo.ba, an independent news and community portal, focused on development of civic society and a culture of dialogue. Earlier, he worked for ten years as a Reuters' senior correspondent from Bosnia, covering politics, economy, sports and other issues while also reporting from other countries in the region. Nedim started his journalistic career in 1992 as a reporter at Studio 99, at the time the only independent radio station in war-torn Sarajevo, before joining the UN refugee agency's humanitarian operation. In 1994, he moved to Italy to study media, politics, and international relations at the American University in Rome, where he worked as an intern for the Associated Press and APTV and as a freelance correspondent for the now-defunct Italian daily La Voce Repubblicana. Nedim has a degree from the University of London in Politics and International Relations.
Michael Jordan is a foreign correspondent who has reported from two dozen countries over the past 16 years. He is a long-time contributor to The Christian Science Monitor, earlier serving as the Monitor's correspondent in Budapest (1995-2000) and at the United Nations (2002-2005). He also writes regularly for Foreign Policy. In addition to reporting, Michael has recently taught journalism at universities in Hong Kong, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and trained Romani reporters in Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia. Until June 2006, Michael was the George Polk Journalist-in-Residence at Long Island University in Brooklyn, where he taught and advised the student newspaper. He blogs about journalism and Central Europe at http://jordanink.wordpress.com.
Ian Phillips, AP News Director for East-central Europe, is in charge of text, TV and photos from Polandto theBalkans. Phillips, 42, has reported and edited from Europe, North America, Africa, Latin America and Asia for AP and was Deputy Europe Editor in London prior to moving to Prague in 2011. From the Czech capital, he leads a region-wide group of reporters tasked with finding innovative stories for use across all platforms. Ian joined AP in 1994 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and reported from several South American countries before transferring to Paris in 1998 and AP's London office two years later. From 2001 to 2004 he was day supervisor at AP's World Desk in New York, helping shape and promote coverage for non-U.S. subscribers of events ranging from the Sept. 11 attacks to the Iraq War. Ian was named deputy editor for Europe and Africa in 2004, and from a London base has been at the forefront of the company's efforts to produce cross-format journalism. At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, he was the main coordinator between text, video and photos. He helped lead coverage of major stories ranging from the terror attacks on London's transport
Kitty Logan is an international TV news reporter and video journalist, specializing in coverage of areas of conflict and developing countries. Most recently she has been working as Kabul correspondent for CBS News, covering the latest news out of Afghanistan for TV, radio, and online. She has also freelanced for Sky News for around 10 years – reporting from Beirut, Berlin, Islamabad, London, Tripoli, and many other countries. From 2002-2004 she was Sky News' Afghanistan Producer and from 2006-2007 she was based in Lebanon, covering the Hezbollah-Israel conflict and its aftermath for several international broadcasters, including Sky News and France24. She also covered the 2011 Libya conflict from both Benghazi and Tripoli for several broadcasters, including Sky News and CBS News. She regularly films for international aid agencies and the UN as well, reporting on a range of issues from the refugee crisis on the Egypt/Libya border in 2011, to food shortages in Ethiopia in 2009, ethnic tensions in Kazakhstan, and Angelina Jolie's visit to the Pakistan floods in 2010. She has also contributed to the Guardian and Telegraph newspapers from various locations. She often works alone, using a simple setup of camera, edit laptop, and BGAN to allow her to provide news content from anywhere in the world, even in extreme locations where there are no reliable communications. Kitty is currently based in London, but is most at home in Berlin.
Gordana Knezevic is the Director of RFE/RL’s South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service, specializing in the Balkans. Before coming to RFE/RL in January 2008, Gordana worked as an online editor with Reuters News Agency in Canada, regularly contributing to the Toronto Star and CBC Radio while there. Before relocating to Canada, Gordana lived in Bosnia, where she was the Deputy Editor of Oslobodjenje, the internationally recognized Sarajevo-based daily paper—which never stopped publishing during the Bosnian War. For her work there, she was honored in 1992 with the Courage in Journalism award from the Washington-based International Women’s Media Foundation. Gordana was an elected member of the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression Board of Directors.
Rob Cameron is the BBC’s correspondent in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, covering politics, human intereststories, arts and other issues for the BBC World Service, BBC domestic radio, BBC Online and BBC World television. Rob moved to Prague in 1993 and began his radio career in 1999, when he joined Radio Prague, the international service of Czech Radio. Rob began producing radio packages for the BBC in 2001, and in 2004 became the BBC’s full-time Prague stringer. He has also reported for the BBC from Albania and Russia.
Social and cultural programme
In addition to the training sessions, we've arranged a social program so participants could meet their fellow participants, TOL staff and the course trainers. Activities included welcome and farewell dinners, as well as a concert.
Who applied for the course? The course is designed for anyone with an interest in international reporting. This includes journalism students and working journalists looking to break into the field, as well as others with a genuine interest in the subject.
€1,185 or US$1,595, including accommodation.
What was included? The fee included tuition, accommodation, breakfast, social events and local transport.
What was not included? Travel costs to and from Prague, meals (other than breakfasts and social events), travel and health insurance, visa and personal expenses.
Course participants shared double rooms in the very comfortable, four-star, Best Western Hotel Kinsky Garden. Perfectly situated in a renovated 19th century building, the hotel is located in the peaceful Mala Strana district that is well served by public transportation. Special arrangements were made for those desiring to stay in single rooms.
The course venue was a classroom provided by the Prague campus of New York University, adjacent to the historic Old Town Square. The building is called Richtruv dům, and some parts of the construction date back as far as the year 1400.
What did the participants say about our previous courses?
To make sure that we maintain high standards, we asked students to fill out an evaluation form at the end of each course. We’re pleased to report that 100% of the students who completed the forms for summer 2011 Foreign Correspondent course said that they would recommend it to a friend or colleague. Here are a few quotes from them.
“This has been a really inspiring week. I feel much more courageous. Thank you!”
About the 'life as a foreign correspondent' session: "SO INSPIRING! Made me want to jump on the next plane anywhere. He really opened up the world. Nice balance of realism and optimism."
About the reporting project: “one of the best - if not the best - part of the course. Going in the field and confronting the real situation of being in a foreign country was a tremendous experience! It was the thing I liked the most and I want to congratulate the person who had the idea for this course!”
About the photojournalism session: "A very useful session. I liked that it was a little technical, but not too much. Another aspect I liked was him taking us through a photo essay, photo by photo and explaining each photos purpose related to the others and the general story of the project."
About the 'reporting for radio' session: "I really enjoyed Mr. Cameron’s presentation. Before this, I had not considered working in this medium, but now I am excited to learn more and use this medium to improve income and tell different stories."
About the 'covering conflict' session: "Absolutely brilliant. An honest and informative lecture on what it takes to be a journalist and foreign correspondent.
The aim of the TOL Foreign Correspondent course is to provide practical training to people who are interested in international reporting. The course is therefore open to:
Journalists who have some experience, but would like to increase their skills and knowledge.
College and university-level students. Some journalism experience or academic background is helpful, but not essential.
Non-journalists who are interested in citizen reporting from foreign lands and would like to learn the basics of doing it on a professional level.
"The training of TOL is the best means to meet very interesting people from different countries, to learn a lot about new media and social journalism, to get some technical skills and finally, these courses suggest new ways to use professional knowledge and skills better than before."
Digital Journalism, October 2011
"I liked the idea that you really had to do it yourself. Michael was always there for feedback and for solutions, but the article had to come from yourself."
Henk, The Netherlands
Foreign Correspondent course, July 2011
"Loved everything. Great experiences and memories."
Foreign Correspondent course, July 2011
"It was important to go to another country ... because although I can learn about reporting back home it isn't foreign correspondence unless you're somewhere new."
Foreign Correspondent course, July 2011
"It's perfect when you learn some theory and then put it straight into practice."
Photojournalism course, August 2011
"This course will greatly improve every photo I take from here on"
Photojournalism course, August 2011
"This was the most valuable feature of the training - learning through real-life experience in the field."