(SPOKANE, Wash.) -- A unique international media training program for students from Gonzaga University and other mostly Jesuit universities seems to have captivated American journalists and educators alike. The program offers the opportunity for a four-week, summer boot camp immersion experience in Cagli, Italy or Armagh, Ireland.
In fact, Arielle Emmett, a former Temple University journalism professor who is working toward a Ph.D. at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, writes in the current (December/January 2008) issue of the American Journalism Review of her experience teaching multimedia storytelling in Armagh this past summer.
Gonzaga communication Professor John Caputo, who also taught in the Armagh program this past summer, said this isn’t the first time the Gonzaga University Graduate Summer Institute in International Media has drawn interest from stateside journalists and journalism programs. Caputo says the program also was discussed regularly last summer in TVSpy.com’s “ShopTalk” [www.tvspy.com/shoptalk.cfm], a daily Web-based newsletter sent to some 30,000 mostly broadcast media professionals. Also, classes at Columbia University, Syracuse University and others required “ShopTalk” as daily reading.
Caputo has taken Gonzaga undergraduate students to the programs in Italy and Ireland for the past six years, and for two years has brought GU students from the master’s program in communication and leadership studies.
The blueprint for the program was created seven years ago when Andy Ciofalo, a journalism professor at Gonzaga’s fellow Jesuit school Loyola College in Baltimore, offered 20 students the opportunity to be involved in the first program in Italy. Ciofalo then invited some of the other 27 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States to get involved. Gonzaga faculty and students jumped at the chance, as did their counterparts at Creighton, Loyola College in Maryland, Marquette and Fordham universities, along with various professionals and a smattering of students from public universities.
In the AJR article, Emmett described the activity in Armagh last summer:
In less than four weeks, 20 American college students of just about every color and ethnicity tramped around the oldest city in Ireland, the tiny seat of the High Irish Kings and St. Patrick, and made it their own. Like New Age private eyes, these young and inexperienced reporters carried pens and notebooks, digital cameras and video equipment, backpacks loaded with Macintosh laptops. They pried where they shouldn’t, listened where they could and wrote and produced multimedia stories of uncommon variety and beauty.
Their subjects? Check out the Web site (www.InArmagh.net), where Kyle Saadeh wrote about the discovery of Vikings in Armagh. Lauren Hicks and Janine Quarles climbed more than 410 steps to interview the 82-year-old carillonneur (bell ringer) of the Catholic St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Then the two did the same thing at the Anglican (Church of Ireland) St. Patrick’s.
Emmett notes, “The students explored Bramley apple orchards, the Neolithic remains of Navan Fort, the town’s 18th century astronomical observatory. They interviewed priests, archaeologists, barkeeps, Uilleann pipers, Gaelic football players, Sinn Fein Council women and a former Irish Republican Army rebel who once bombed the very art gallery space he now owns.”
Extolling the virtues of the program, Emmett couldn’t pinpoint one thing that made the experience so compelling, but said the program “managed to do what most multimedia reporting classes of full semesters don’t seem to do: create high-energy, motivated journalists who uncover rich tapestries of stories and manage to tell them (quickly and convincingly) with digital tools.”
Emmett describes how she struggled to express why the program was so different from conventional, semester-long multimedia programs and how Ciafolo, her boss in Armagh, told her the key to the program is experiential learning.
“Like eating honey with sharp provolone (which Ciafolo does), you savor the moment and evaluate later,” Emmett wrote. “There are very few distractions in a small town that locks up tight at 5 p.m., a place where everyone has a big story and everyone wants to talk to you.”
Ciafolo notes in the article that his goal is not to produce cookie-cutter foreign correspondents wannabes but students who hunger to find great stories and express them with fresh eyes.
For Caputo, the two Gonzaga international media programs relate directly to his career-long professional interests in globalization and ways to improve international and intercultural communication.
On Gonzaga’s brochure for the Summer Institute in International Media is a quote from Marshall McLuhan, the communication theorist, philosopher and scholar who is known for coining the expression “the medium is the message” and for his frequent use of the term “global village.”
The quote reads, “Today, after more than a century of electronic technology, we have extended our nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned.”
Caputo agrees, saying the world has been made smaller and more accessible with nearly every corner of it now the possible subject of endlessly fascinating stories ripe for modern storytellers.
“Now the computer is what’s making this possible,” Caputo said. “Through the portable technological revolution, we at Gonzaga can be at the crest of it.”
For more information, contact Professor Caputo at (509) 323-6656, via e-mail at or visit the following Web site.
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