Two master’s degrees, two countries, at the same time

Sona Kocharyan

Sona Kocharyan is a journalism student from Armenia. She’s beginning her MA program in Journalism and Media Management at CSJMM and she’s simultaneously finishing her MA program in International Relations at Yerevan State Linguistic University. Sona enrolled in the International Relations MA program in order to give her an area of expertise when she gets a reporting job. She speaks Russian, of course; in addition, she both speaks and writes English very well; Spanish was her second foreign language in school; and she also needs to learn enough Georgian to find her way around Tbilisi. I’m impressed.

Her passion is journalism—especially writing stories in English. In early 2010, Sona was an intern at Yerkir Media, and then the television station hired her full-time in May. In 2011, she attended a training program in Prague, in the Czech Republic. Building upon her training, Sona began writing for an online magazine—TOL .org—that has correspondents from 29 post-community countries of Europe and the former Soviet Union. In her first ever story published in English (with photos), she reported that in Armenia the law requires 2nd-graders to study the game of chess two times a week. Soon, Armenian students will also study chess in the 3rd and 4th grades. Check it out:

I wanted to talk with Sona because she did particularly well on an assignment for CSJMM’s Reporting II class. To begin the assignment, students were told that an airplane had crashed at Tbilisi International Airport. Then at a mock press conference, four individuals were made available for interviews. Students had 30 minutes to ask questions and then another hour to write a 250-word story. Here is what Sona wrote:

202 passengers were killed, 25 others were injured because of the air crash in Tbilisi International Airport on Friday. Boeing 747, a Georgian Airways major commercial airliner, coming from Amsterdam, exploded after hitting the edge of the runway at 2:55 p.m. though it was due to land at 2:30.

The cause of the air crash is not known yet. “This is the first case for the Georgian airlines and the national police has already started the investigation,” says Tamar Kakulia, the Public Relations manager of Georgian Airways.

Margaret Freaney, the investigator for the Georgian national air-transportation safety board, says they are looking for the black box and are going to examine the plane.

The names of the fatalities or those injured are not known yet, but they promise to announce them soon. Among 227 people in the plane there were 218 passengers, the pilot, two copilots and other 6 crew members on board at the moment of the explosion.

“Everything was going fine. Then all of a sudden the plane started. At that moment I was looking at the window and saw the fire coming and then heard a boom”, says John Smith, a 45-year-old survived passenger of the plane. In his words there must be two children among the survived passengers.

All the injured people were taken to hospital. “The ambulance arrived immediately after our call,” Sopho Altunashvili, the director of the operations of Tbilisi International Airport says, “all the other coming flights are cancelled or diverted to the nearby airports”.


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.

2 Responses to Two master’s degrees, two countries, at the same time

  1. bazian says:

    She is also very amiable and beautiful young lady from sunny Armenia:)

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