Can I get a journalism job? Do I want one?

After Tiko Tsomaia’s Diversity Reporting class, I went to lunch with four students and we talked about a variety of topics. Of particular interest was the lament that after graduating, students may not want to work for journalism organizations in Georgia and Azerbaijan (and by implication, Armenia). Here’s their line of reasoning: CSJMM students receive a quality education in journalism, often by people working for Western news organizations such as Reuters, so CSJMM students would like to apply what they have learned in a free and ethical news media organization. But they can’t because the news media in Georgia are not independent of government and they are not following a professional code of ethics. If students practice what they’d been taught, they’ll be fired. So why are they paying for an education at CSJMM and spending two years of their lives learning the way that journalism should be practiced?

One student had a suggestion—CSJMM should expand its radio operations and add a television station (maybe even create a newspaper), which would create jobs for professional, independent, ethical journalists (such as these four CSJMM students).

Great idea, I think. In fact, IREX’s G-Media program (http://irex.ge/programs/media/gmedia) includes a project to improve the school’s radio station. “Improvement” includes involving more students and it might include making the station a hybrid commercial-educational radio station. As far as I know, there are no plans yet to begin a television station, but a hybrid commercial-educational station might be an excellent idea.

Another lament was that the southern Caucasus countries have no higher educational programs that provide in-depth professional instruction about shooting and editing video. One student claimed that the demand for such a program is high, but the problem is lack of funding from both government and non-government sources. If people in Georgia, Azerbaijan, or Armenia have enough money, they can study in Europe or the United States. If they come from families with “normal” incomes/wealth, then there are NO options. Wouldn’t it be great, she asked, if a team of videographers from the three countries could work together to produce documentary films?

Indeed, that’s a great idea!

CSJMM is a possible solution, if it gets more video equipment, more experienced instructors who can teach video, and more money to support these budding documentary filmmakers as they get their education and make their first films.

That’s a lot of “ifs.” On the other hand, whomever tries to start something new and worthwhile will encounter a similar list of obstacles. We need to be idealistic enough and determined enough to persevere during the startup period.

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About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

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