Journalism students from Qatar and Evanston collaborate on enterprise projects
April 19, 2017
Students from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, along with two faculty members, traveled to Qatar to collaborate with NU-Q’s Enterprise Journalism class during their spring break. This was the first time such a collaboration has taken place between the two campuses.
The Evanston and Doha-based students worked in teams to come up with and report on local stories within Qatar, based on the theme “Millennials at a Crossroads of the Middle East.” They decided on their story ideas before actually arriving in Doha. Their final portfolio will include two projects: a video that deals with major issues that millennials in Qatar face and a television news package on the main characters that are featured in the video.
“Medill has been expanding its global programs, with the ultimate goal that every student in the school should travel abroad at least once during their time with us,” said Craig Duff, professor at the Medill School of Journalism. He said it was the administration’s desire to collaborate with their counterparts in Doha that led to the creation of the spring-break program.
“We like to have the cross-pollination of bringing students from Evanston, who have a different way of looking at things, learn about students from NU-Q, who have different cultural sensitivities,” said Mary Dedinsky, the director of the journalism program at NU-Q.
Jordan Moreau, a sophomore at Medill, worked with his partners on the topic of sports and identity. “With my partners, we reported on the topic of Qatari national sports and how lots of teams are made up almost entirely of foreign athletes,” he said, explaining why many of the “national” teams do not have any Qatari citizens on them.
Fatima Hassan, a sophomore at NU-Q, worked on a story about the intersection of fashion and female empowerment. Other stories that emerged included immigration and migrant workers.
According to Justin Martin, assistant professor of journalism at NU-Q, another principal objective for the collaboration was cultural exchange. The students also engaged in international reporting that propagated an enhanced global understanding of the media and its influence.
“I had never traveled outside of the United States before, so I was a little nervous at first about going to a new country where I didn’t speak the language and didn’t know my way around,” said Moreau. He described Arabic as being the only challenge for him during his time in Qatar, and he relied on his partners to lead the interviews and make contact with their sources. Because the students from Evanston were unfamiliar with reporting in Doha, the students from NU-Q were “in charge” of the process of reporting, he added.
Ayah Awartani, a journalism sophomore at NU-Q, said that some problems did arise. “The collaboration was somewhat unorganized…we made it work, but we hope the collaborations for the upcoming years can be smoother,” she said.
“I think organization of the class was a major challenge. If we do it again, we will do a lot better,” Dedinsky said, agreeing with Awartani.
But students said that overall the experience was worthwhile.
“I never would’ve gotten to know my amazing Qatar partners and fellow Evanston classmates without this class, and I wouldn’t have my first, and hopefully not last, international traveling experience,” said Moreau.
Dedinsky is currently in talks with various news networks such as NBC and Al Jazeera to publish the projects that the students worked on and said she hopes for many future collaborations between the two campuses.