Medill's Global Residency Program

The Global Residency Program is an optional fifth quarter of study available to graduate students. It provides the opportunity to build on their subject or technique specializations. Students work in carefully supervised residencies at one of dozens of participating news organizations and publications in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Oceania and the Americas. In some limited, specific situations, students may get approval to do the Global program during their fourth quarter.

Global Residency is a three-unit academic course consisting of a 10- to 12-week residency at a news organization (2 units) and an independent-study project (1 unit) conducted during the residency quarter. Designed to enhance the residency experience, the project will help the student gain an in-depth understanding of current issues or challenges being addressed by news organizations abroad; or to develop journalistic expertise in a subject of importance or keen interest in the city or region of the residency.

Student Placement

Students are placed in residencies after close consultation among the student, the on-site residency supervisor (e.g., editor, news director, bureau chief, production leader) and Medill’s Global Residency coordinator. The goal is for the student to be placed in a residency where the assignments and experiences build on her or his topic or technique specialization at Medill.

Local-language proficiency is required for many residencies. In such cases direct contact between the student and the on-site residency supervisor has proved sufficient to determine that the student has the appropriate language competencies.

Faculty Adviser

Once placed in a residency, the student will be assigned a Global faculty adviser, who serves three important functions: 1) Helping the student prepare for the residency by setting realistic goals, benchmarks and strategies for success; 2) Communicating regularly with the student during the residency and, as appropriate, with the student’s on-site supervisor to ensure that all parties’ expectations are being met – troubleshooting and intervening if necessary; and 3) Overseeing, monitoring and assessing the development and execution of the student’s independent-study project.

The Residency

During the residency students complete a range of assignments similar in quality and quantity to those of an entry-level professional staff member. Through planning, coordination and constant feedback among student, adviser and residency supervisor, the student should benefit from a program of increasingly challenging assignments and professional growth.

It is not unusual for Global students to report and write high-profile stories that get widespread international play. Increasingly, these stories are produced in multimedia formats and prominently displayed on major websites.

The pace of journalism, whether at a small-town daily newspaper or on the international stage, often depends on the news of the day and the state of the world. Students undertaking Global residencies should be prepared for daily and long-term assignments that may be important, exciting or mundane. Students should also be prepared to bring their unique visions to residencies and to use them to generate and execute enterprise stories.

Independent-Study Project

The independent-study project will be developed with oversight by the Global faculty adviser and approved by Medill's director of graduate studies and the Global Residency coordinator. On occasion, multiple student projects may be coordinated to explore the same subject from different parts of the world.

Students have considerable latitude in defining the subject and presentation of projects, although most will be either 1) an analysis of a current issue, trend or challenge of importance to news organizations abroad, presented as a written report; or 2) an in-depth journalistic report reflecting the student’s area of specialization.

Analysis of a current journalism issue/trend/challenge would be based on interviews with leaders of the host news organization and, quite possibly, their counterparts at other news organizations in the residency region. Examples might include practicing journalism and setting priorities in a difficult economy; evolving definitions of audience; convergence of media in developing the news report; changing cost and revenue models; and ethical issues unique to foreign correspondency or different cultures. The interviews and analysis would be synthesized in a written report of 1,000-2,000 words.

An in-depth journalistic project might be produced as an audio slideshow, video report, text-story package or a combination of elements. In depth and complexity, it might be equivalent to a website centerpiece, broadcast special report, newspaper Sunday package or high-profile magazine story. Choice of subject is limited only by the student’s imagination and sense of practicality – and the necessity that the subject be worthy of in-depth treatment. The topic can be hard news or soft; issue-oriented or people-oriented. It is envisioned that such a project would be suitable for publication on Medill websites or by the residency host organization, or that it might be marketed as freelance journalism. A well-executed project should be an important clip or link on the student’s résumé.

Depending on the nature of the project, students may be encouraged to begin work before their on-site residency begins in order to minimize time conflicts. Host-organization supervisors will be aware of the projects and, when possible, offer advice. However, it is the student’s responsibility to manage time and assignments such that the host organization’s needs are met and the project is completed on schedule. In certain approved instances, depending on the student’s plans for the following quarter, extra time may be spent in the residency city to complete the project.

Program requirements

Students must be in good academic standing, both when they apply and at the beginning of the residency quarter. Students prepare for the residency quarter by taking the Global Journalism seminar as part of their regular coursework at Medill. Students also attend pre-residency seminars, conducted by faculty and guest experts, to become better prepared for the issues and challenges associated with reporting from abroad.

Cost

The cost of participating in the Global Residency Program is comparable to the estimated cost of a quarter's enrollment in the Medill graduate program and is relative to the cost of living in the residency city. All participants may apply for additional scholarship funds. Financial aid and the student health plan are available for the Global quarter.

Residencies vary in financial support: Some organizations pay student residents; some provide support for housing or expenses; and some provide no monetary compensation or support.

The Global Residency Program staff actively assists students in finding housing options in residency cities. Each student should be prepared to cover expenses including tuition, airfare, housing, meals and other costs during the course of the quarter.

Further information is available from Bill Handy, coordinator of the Global Residency Program, at w-handy@northwestern.edu.

"The global residency was a major reason I chose Medill. For someone who wants to be a foreign correspondent, there really is no better opportunity."

- Josh Lederman (MSJ11), Reporter, Associated Press