South Africa gets beneath your skin. That was my experience in 2004, when I joined a group of students led by former Medill dean Loren Ghiglione as we landed together for a 10-week stint in South African newsrooms. Sometimes shaking yourself out of familiar surroundings is what it takes to clarify the value of good journalism.
South Africa is the only country in the world where democracy, globalization, and the HIV epidemic arrived around the same time. And it's the only emerging democracy in the developing world that has had to live with the consequences of the peculiar system of racial separation known as apartheid while trying to achieve economic and social justice in a new, modern dispensation.
Students doing the Journalism Residency in South Africa face a triple challenge, much like any correspondent setting off to report across lines of ethnicity, language, culture, and national identity. They immerse themselves in South Africa politics, media, society, and history in a preparatory course and in their own reading. They struggle with the challenges of reporting in South African news outlets for South African audiences. And they strive to produce first rate work while members of those newsrooms, during a quarter in the country.
Our students have reporting on every conceivable subject -- from AIDS activism to crime to township life. They've met icons like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, interviewed key leaders of the African National Congress and opposition parties, and covered hard news of every conceivable kind.
The residency is a serious challenge, and it's not a good fit for every student. It's recommended only for juniors and seniors who have done well in preparatory courses, and who would like to explore international journalism. Only students with substantial experience in U.S. newsrooms may apply.
The best way to decide whether you would like to apply is to explore the media organizations online and to read carefully what previous participants have to say about the program (below). Along the way, you'll notice what our students have accomplished along the way – the contribution they've made during their stints in the country, to the journalism in this country.
- Douglas Foster, Faculty Adviser, South Africa Journalism Residency
Read student testimonials