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2020 Kip Fellows Offer COVID-19 Coverage Advice

 

As journalists worldwide struggle to meet the demands of covering the COVID-19 virus and its impact on our health, cultures and economies, this year’s Kiplinger Fellows, all working in the field on these stories offer other journalists some advice on how to manage stories, sources, time and personal health. 

We are grateful for them for sharing and caring. 

  

Kristi Eaton, freelancer, Tulsa, Oklahoma: 

 As a freelancer, I’m always thinking of story ideas and looking around for ideas. Lately, I’ve been culling ideas from friends and family and using social media, even more, to gather ideas and learn about what editors are after for coverage.  

 Tegan Bedser, digital media specialist, SABC, Johannesburg, South Africa: 

 It is an extraordinary time. There are challenges, but there are also opportunities. Use it to embrace change, upskill and innovate.  

 Amelia Robinson, columnist, Dayton Daily News, Dayton, Ohio: 

 My advice to other journalist is to pace yourself. There are one million angles to this story and you can run yourself ragged trying to do them all. Don’t do that. There is only one you.  Concentrate on what you can reasonably do and do it well.  

Mark Oprea, freelancer, Cleveland, Ohio: 

 As a journalist here in Cleveland who has lost, since March, all six of his main clients, my only piece of advice to freelancers is to open up their minds to other sources of income. For example, I was just awarded one of PEN America’s Emergency Fund grants, which I’m super, super thankful for, and also have a potential gig lined up at a local university.  

Times are tough. As of now, I haven’t sold any big pitches. Almost no publication here is accepting them or doling out assignments. Nearly  every reporter covering the coronavirus must, therefore, ask themselvesHow I supplement the limited income I may receive from my Covid-19 stories with work I may not do otherwise? How can I put aside my writer pretension and put my finances before career advancement?  

Marianela Toledo, reporter, CNN Espanol, Miami, Florida: 

 First, question the narrative. Although there is no clear answer to how the virus mutated and spread among people, we – as journalists- should have to start to question the story of the bat soup a while ago. This is not hard to do; numbers usually tell a different story or show clear gaps.  

Ask for numbers and figures, they not only help views/readers to understand but also, as I said help you find gaps and question the narrative. 

Our industry has changed. I can do so much with the cellphone, we need to be prepared with digital tools more than ever.   

Sage Van Wing, executive producer, Oregon Public Broadcasting, Portland, Oregon: 

 My advice is good writing can go a long way to fill in the gaps. It’s getting harder and harder to find good scenes for audio stories these days, and our ability to go out in the world is restricted. There’s a lot of creativity that we’ve been able to harness – such as asking subjects to record audio from their lives for us – but fundamentally, the best way to get around that is to write creatively into the audio you do have. And to be transparent with a listener about what you were able to get and why. 

 La Risa Lynch, Independent Journalist, Chicago, Illinois: 

 It’s hard to get color over the telephone. Asking people to describe their empty coffee shop seems counterintuitive. I didn’t realize how “personal” journalism is. Making personal connections with the person you’re interviewing is very germane to the storytelling process especially when you ask people to bare their soul about how Covid-19 is affecting them. 

 

Beatriz Pascual Marcias, Reporter, EFE News Agency, Washington, D.C.: 

 Don’t give up when you are trying to do a video story on vulnerable communities, such as immigrants in rural areas or those who are in prison. Their stories are always worth telling.  

Take into account that they may not have internet access and if you want to use Zoom, you will need to find some help. Your ally can be a younger family member who has a smartphone or activists that would be willing to lend his/her laptop to the interviewee for a couple of hours. 

Be aware that sometimes video might not be possible, but maybe you can use some photos of the interviewee with audio. Just don’t let difficulties deter you and… use your imagination! 

Michael Ertloutput editor, BBC World Services, London, England: 

 Science does not have all the answers about Covid-19 (yet). Neither do politicians or journalists. Yet, in a crisis like this, the public turns to us for answers about possible treatments, vaccines, and what lies ahead in the coming months. As in any piece of reporting, we need to “get it right” – despite the uncertainty inherent to a new disease like this.  

The pandemic is a challenge and an opportunity to question how we approach this uncertainty. More than ever, we need to be humble and clear in our reporting about what we know and what we do not know, to scrutinize governments while being fair and transparent about the questions we cannot answer. 

Sharon Lindores, editor/producer The National Post, Toronto, Canada: 

 Overall, this experience seems to have reinforced the importance of some basics – preparation, accuracy, sources and good communication.  

 Preparation: This experience reminds us all that we should always be ready to work remotely and to have a Plan B if technology doesn’t run smoothly. (I’m thinking of how quickly our newsroom was sent home and that many people hadn’t worked from home before, which brought some unnecessary challenges in an already challenging time.) 

Accuracy: There’s a lot of information being thrown around and at a critical time like this it’s even more important than ever to be extra careful about everything. Are numbers accurate and up-to-date, are claims of what medications might be able to do backed up by science etc. 

Sources: Good sources can be very helpful at a time when everyone’s scrambling and also when the government may be restricting comments to daily briefings etc. 

 

Communication: It’s always important, but even more so if the entire team is working remotely and in a challenging time. Try to be clear and efficient, but don’t forget to make an effort to be human too. Sometimes calling others, or setting up one-to-one chats can be better than emails. With everyone working remotely there’s not the same everyday chat and exchange of ideas as there is in a newsroom. And also, everyone is dealing with the stress of the situation differently – not to mention some are now caring for children, or elderly/vulnerable friends and family, or may be isolated on their own and may be immune-compromised themselves, etc. in addition to juggling work from home. Checking in with others, just to see how they’re doing, can be helpful and go a long way to keeping things running smoothly.  

Todd Van Luling, senior culture reporter, Huff Post, Chicago, Illinois: 

 The increased workload during this time of coronavirus has forced me to figure out better time management.  

One of the things I’ve learned in this pursuit is that repeatedly switching between tasks can decrease productivity. For years, I’ve used reading the news on my RSS feed as a momentary break when I’ve reached a particularly tricky task. Now, I push through on those tasks instead of giving up. I save looking through my feed for a bulk reading session at the end of the day. I might miss out on the breaking stories of the day for a few hours, but I’ve found my productivity has caught up to this challenging moment. 

Kevin Z. Smith, executive director, Kiplinger Program, Athens, Ohio:  

With so much information circulating, not just online by the public, but by the professional media working everywhere from global wire services to small daily newspapers, it’s a lot to digest.  

Sometimes that information can be conflicting and confusing. This virus is only a few months old and there is a lot we don’t know about it. It’s okay for professionals not to be certain, and it’s important for them to say that if that’s the case. And, it’s okay for us to report that we still don’t know a lot.  

Professionals in disease and health care are being interviewed and offering assessments that might contradict what other medical professionals are saying. It’s not that they’re lying, it’s that there is so much more to learn about the disease. I think qualifying statements by professionals help. This is what we know to date. Research is still ongoing. Think about what was said about the coronavirus eight weeks ago and how much it’s changed. Keep in mind it will change again.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2020 Kiplinger Fellows announced

Twenty-two journalists representing 10 nations will make up the 2020 class of Kiplinger Fellows in Public Affairs Journalism when they visit the Ohio University campus in late April for a week of intense digital media training

The Fellows were selected from a pool of hundreds based on journalism experience, their body of work, desire to improve their digital media skills and willingness to share the knowledge with colleagues.

The journalists from the U.S. hail from Portland, Tulsa, Miami, Chicago, San Antonio, Biloxi, and Washington, D.C., as well as Cleveland, Columbus, and Dayton, Ohio.

Besides 12 selected from the United States, 10 journalists representing Canada, Cuba, Costa Rica, England, Germany, India, Kyrgyz Republic, Nigeria and South Africa were chosen.

“Once again we are proud to announce an outstanding group from around the world who will be this year’s fellows,” Kiplinger Executive Director Kevin Z. Smith said. “The value of our fellowship in digital media stretches to the four corners of the globe, and we are delighted to have such talented and accomplished reporters, editors, producers and managers in our fellowship learning ways to improve journalism.”

The fellows will be on OU’s campus at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, April 19-24 and will be recognized at the Scripp School’s year-end banquet. In addition to the professional training schedule, planned sessions with Scripp students will take place.

“The Kiplinger Class of 2020 provides our students in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism the opportunity to engage with journalists of very diverse backgrounds,” Dr. Robert Stewart, director of the school, said.

The 2020 Kiplinger Fellows include, from the U.S.:

David Martin Davies – Texas Public Radio

Kristi Eaton – freelancer, New York Times, Ms.

Kantele Franko – The Associated Press

Anita Lee – Biloxi Sun Herald

Todd Van Luling – The HuffPost

La Risa Lynch – freelancer, Austin Weekly News, The Final Call

Beatriz Pascual Macias – EFE News Agency

Mark Oprea – freelancer, OZY

Paola De Orte – freelancer, O Globo

Amelia Robinson, Dayton Daily News

Marianela Toledo – CNN Espanol

Sage Van Wing – Oregon Public Broadcasting

International Fellows include:

Tegan Bedser – SABC – South Africa

Kattia Bermudez – La Nacion, Costa Rica

Michael Ertl – BBC, England

Sunny Freeman – The Canadian Press

Sharon Lindores – The National Post, Canada

Erkinbek Kamalov – Content Media, Kyrgyz Republic

Natalia Messer – freelancer, Deutsche Welle, Germany

Pradipta Mukherjee – Bloomberg, India

Habib Oladapo – Civic Media Lab, Nigeria

Julio Batista Rodriguez – Periodismo de Barrio, Cuba

This will mark the third year the fellowship has been held at Ohio University. The program formerly moved from Ohio State University in February where it had been for 47 years. This is the 10th year the fellowship has focused on digital media training.

The Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism was established in 1972 by the late Austin Kiplinger, heir to the Kiplinger publishing business created by his father, the late Willard Kiplinger, a 1912 Ohio State University journalism graduate. The Kiplinger mission is to train journalists in necessary professional skills and to do this by giving them a reprieve from the pressures of the newsrooms. Willard Kiplinger’s grandson, Knight Kiplinger, is the program’s current benefactor. 

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Active shooter training prepares journalists

Twenty-two journalists representing 10 nations will make up the 2020 class of Kiplinger Fellows in Public Affairs Journalism when they visit the Ohio University campus in late April for a week of intense digital media training. The Fellows were selected from a pool of hundreds based on journalism experience, their body of work, desire to improve their digital media skills and willingness to share the knowledge with colleagues. The journalists from the U.S. hail from Portland, Tulsa, Miami, Chicago, San Antonio, Biloxi, and Washington, D.C., as well as Cleveland, Columbus, and Dayton, Ohio.  Besides 12 selected from the United States, 10 journalists representing Canada, Cuba, Costa Rica, England, Germany, India, Kyrgyz Republic, Nigeria and South Africa were chosen.   “Once again we are proud to announce an outstanding group from around the world who will be this year’s fellows,” Kiplinger Executive Director Kevin Z. Smith said. “The value of our fellowship in digital media stretches to the four corners of the globe, and we are delighted to have such talented and accomplished reporters, editors, producers and managers in our fellowship learning ways to improve journalism.”  The fellows will be on OU’s campus at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, April 19-24 and will be recognized at the Scripp School’s year-end banquet. In addition to the professional training schedule, planned sessions with Scripp students will take place. “The Kiplinger Class of 2020 provides our students in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism the opportunity to engage with journalists of very diverse backgrounds,” Dr. Robert Stewart, director of the school, said.  The 2020 Kiplinger Fellows include, from the U.S.: David Martin Davies – Texas Public Radio Kristi Eaton – freelancer, New York Times, Ms. Kantele Franko – The Associated Press Anita Lee – Biloxi Sun Herald Todd Van Luling – The HuffPost La Risa Lynch – freelancer, Austin Weekly News, The Final Call Beatriz Pascual Macias – EFE News Agency Mark Oprea – freelancer, OZY Paola De Orte – freelancer, O Globo Amelia Robinson, Dayton Daily News Marianela Toledo – CNN Espanol Sage Van Wing – Oregon Public Broadcasting International Fellows include: Tegan Bedser – SABC – South Africa Kattia Bermudez – La Nacion, Costa Rica Michael Ertl – BBC, England Sunny Freeman – The Canadian Press Sharon Lindores – The National Post, Canada Erkinbek Kamalov – Content Media, Kyrgyz Republic Natalia Messer – freelancer, Deutsche Welle, Germany Pradipta Mukherjee – Bloomberg, India Habib Oladapo – Civic Media Lab, Nigeria Julio Batista Rodriguez – Periodismo de Barrio, Cuba This will mark the third year the fellowship has been held at Ohio University. The program formerly moved from Ohio State University in February where it had been for 47 years. This is the 10th year the fellowship’s has focused on digital media training.  The Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism was established in 1972 by the late Austin Kiplinger, heir to the Kiplinger publishing business created by his father, the late Willard Kiplinger, a 1912 Ohio State University journalism graduate. The Kiplinger mission is to train journalists in necessary professional skills and to do this by giving them a reprieve from the pressures of the newsrooms. Willard Kiplinger’s grandson, Knight Kiplinger, is the program’s current benefactor. 
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2019 Kiplinger Fellows are diverse class of professional journalists; 22 selected from around globe

 

Twenty-two veteran journalists from newsrooms around the world will make up the 2019 class of Kiplinger Fellows at Ohio University.

The newest class includes staff from national newspapers, large-market television and radio outlets, major daily newspapers as well as exclusive online journalists from the U.S. and abroad.

Eight fellows were chosen from outside the United States – England, Spain, Pakistan, Moldova, Costa Rica, Belgium, and two from Canada. Nearly 400 journalists applied for the fellowship program, which will take place April 7-12 at the Ohio University Scripps School of Journalism in Athens.

“The talented pool of journalists wanting to participate in our fellowship is inspiring, but makes the selection process all the more challenging,” executive director Kevin Z. Smith said. “It’s always a difficult process to select the few who come. We believe this class is a great representation of the current state of global journalism with freelancers, online producers as well as those from legacy media coming to Ohio. These are 22 excellent fellows.”

Smith said the fellowship’s mission is to train and return the Kiplinger Fellows to their newsrooms (or home offices) armed with a new set of digital skills and the motivation to train others and improve the level of journalism worldwide.

The international 2019 Kiplinger Fellows are:

  • Andrea Baillie, managing editor, The Canadian Press; Toronto, Canada
  • Jane Gerster, national features reporter, Global News; Toronto, Canada
  • Waheedullah Massoud, production executive, BBC; London, England
  • Madalin Necsutu, editor-in-chief, Evenimentul Zilei; Chisinau, Moldova
  • Ali Rashid Panhwer, sub-editor, Associated Press of Pakistan, Karachi, Pakistan
  • Cindy Regidor, correspondent, France 24; San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Teri Schultz, freelance reporter, NPR, Deutsche Welle; Brussels, Belgium
  • Miguel Toral, director, sinfiltros.com; Madrid, Spain

 

The U.S. 2019 Kiplinger Fellows are:

  • Bethany Barnes, investigative reporter, The Tampa Bay Times, Tampa, Fla.
  • Kate Cook, city editor, Herald-Citizen; Cookeville, Tennessee
  • Beth Fertig, senior reporter, WNYC public radio; New York, New York
  • Joe Hernandez, reporter, WHYY public radio; Trenton, New Jersey
  • Jon Horn, reporter, KGTV; San Diego, California
  • Srividya Kalyanaraman, editor, BostInno, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Luz Lazo, transportation reporter, Washington Post, Washington, DC
  • Ginny McCabe, freelance reporter; Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Megan Pratz, producer, Cheddar; Washington, DC
  • Maria Luisa Rossel, correspondent, UNO-TV; Washington, DC
  • Colleen Shalby, engagement editor, Los Angeles Times; Los Angeles, California
  • Deepa Shivaram, associate producer, Meet The Press; Washington, DC
  • Charlotte West, freelance reporter; Seattle, Washington
  • Max White, digital producer, WXYZ; Detroit, Michigan

The Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism is in its 46th year, spending the first 45 at Ohio State University. It has evolved since its founding, transitioning from a nine-month master’s program to a digital media fellowships in 2011. In addition to the weeklong fellowship, the program offers workshops and training across the globe. In 2018, the Kiplinger Program training reached nearly 1,200 journalists. Full information about the Kiplinger Program is available at www.kiplingerprogram.org.

The Kiplinger Program was endowed at Ohio State in 1973 by Austin Kiplinger in honor of his father, W.M. Kiplinger, one of the university’s first journalism graduates in 1912. W.M. Kiplinger pioneered a new kind of journalism when he became publisher of The Kiplinger Letter and later Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. He has been described by his son as “a dedicated journalist, a muckraker and an inspiration to young journalists… a very original thinker.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Empowered Myanmar Women’s Struggles, Contributions Come to Life in New Book

Kiplinger Fellow Jennifer Rigby (Class 2015) returned this year from a nearly three-year stay in Myanmar where she chronicled life in the Asian nation, particularly focusing on the empowering women who gained prominence after years of oppression, the “other ladies” of the oftern chaotic nation.

Here is a recent Q&A with Jennifer who is back in her native England with husband and child.

 

Q1. Give us some background how you found yourself in Myanmar and for how long. And, when did the idea of the book come to you?

 

I moved to Myanmar with my now husband, who is also a journalist, in 2015. It was a compromise: we both wanted to live and work abroad, but while I suggested somewhere pleasant, like Denmark, he suggested Syria. Myanmar was a mix of the two: reasonably safe, for foreigners at least, and a fascinating place to live with some heartbreaking, challenging and important stories to tell, too.

 

We also moved there at a time of great hope. After decades of oppression at the hands of a military junta, the first free and fair elections were taking place (in November 2015), and the human rights icon Aung San Suu Kyi was set to win. She did win, but it hasn’t been quite so hopeful since. Her government has overseen what has been widely called a genocide of the Rohingya people, and as I write, two Burmese journalists working for Reuters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, have been sentenced to seven years in prison just for doing their jobs. It’s not the democratic future she was expected to herald.

My book was originally inspired by Suu Kyi – affectionately known simply as “The Lady” in Myanmar – and the hope she inspired in the Burmese people and around the world. But a lot had already been written about her, and I didn’t want to add more to that. Then, over the next 18 months or so living in Myanmar, I found many more people and stories in the country that embodied hope almost as completely as she did.

 

So I decided to write about them instead – the ‘other ladies’ of Myanmar of the title. And it’s a good thing I did, because with every day that has passed and every atrocity that has taken place on Suu Kyi’s watch, these women have become more than an addition to her. Rather than her backing singers, as they perhaps were in my original idea of the book, they have now become the headline act; they are carrying the whole tune, and with it, hope for Myanmar’s future.

 

Q2. How did the book materialize?

 

I had the idea for the book, but for a freelance journalist to take time out from making money with stories is a precarious business. So I applied for and got a grant from the International Women’s Media Foundation, which enabled me to focus on all of the women’s stories in depth – traveling to meet them, shadowing them, spending days with them. That was brilliant, and essential to give me time to do the book properly. At the same time, I pitched it to publishers, and the Institute of South-east Asian Studies took it on.

 

Q3. Was there any time you were concerned about portraying these women given they were rebellious of sorts and you were giving them attention?

 

The women were all totally aware of what was going on when we were speaking, and the fact that the interviews would end up in a published book. For some of them, their rebellions are not contentious – the refugee sexual heath nurse, for example, or the acid attack survivor – while they are bravely fighting for change, they aren’t fighting for the kind of change that will wind up an increasingly authoritarian government.

 

That’s not the case for some of the more overtly political campaigners, such as the Rohingya human rights activist, Wai Wai Nu. She is perhaps in a more precarious position, but it’s a place she has incredibly courageously chosen to put herself many times since she got out of prison. As an activist, she uses the local and international press to try to raise awareness for various causes, and so I think – I hope – my book can be part of that for her. But I do think she and a few of the other women had to be careful in what they said at certain points.

 

Q4. Myanmar is a complex country that seems perpetually mired in conflicts of politics, war and religion. How much of the turmoil factored into your decision to approach a book from these unique feminist views?

 

Myanmar is spectacularly complex, and I don’t claim to understand it. However, what I did notice as I lived there, learned more and read more books about it, was that any attempts to understand it or explain it came from the male viewpoint, the male voice.

 

Apart from Aung San Suu Kyi, I just felt that the perspectives of women in Myanmar were completely unheard in the wider world. And at a moment when it seemed the country was about to undergo a historic change, it seemed to me that they were going to play more of a part in its future, and in making it a feminist future. So I wanted to hear from them, and I wanted the international community to hear more from them.

 

Q5. Were there some figures or topics that were just too sensitive to approach in a book? Did you ever think “officials” might be staring over your shoulder as you interviewed them? Anyone who wanted to talk with but couldn’t?

 

I didn’t really feel that there was anything too sensitive for me to approach, but that’s probably because as an international journalist, I was able to leave Myanmar whenever I wanted. Although I did write the book outside of the country, and I haven’t been granted a visa to return since.

 

Until recently, I would have said writing it in Myanmar would have been fine anyway, because it really seemed like press freedom was on the up since the dark days of the junta – but the recent sentencing of the two Reuters journalists has called that pretty seriously into question.

 

Otherwise, I spoke to everyone I wanted and didn’t feel anything was out of bounds – apart from Aung San Suu Kyi herself of course, who I would have loved to speak to but who doesn’t really grant interviews with the international (or indeed local) press that much anymore. Another great sign for a democratic leader…

 

Q6.  What’s the one takeaway you hope for someone reading this book?

 

I hope people reading the book see beyond Aung San Suu Kyi into the nuanced, wonderful, sad, frustrating, inspiring and fascinating country of Myanmar, and realize that there are women there –  as there are anywhere in the world – fighting the good fight to make sure our world is an equal one.

 

Q7 What the reaction to the book been like, so far?

 

It’s been positive, which is great. I hope to do more promotion in the next few months as I finish a few other bits of work, but I’ve had some good criticism and some good reception from a few editors for reviews and articles. And for now my husband is keeping track of the Amazon sales (it nearly topped the gay and lesbian bestsellers for a few days, which is cool but a bit odd, seeing as it doesn’t fit into that genre really in any way).

 

Q8. Plans for more travels or books coming up?

 

I’m about to have my second child (due in January), so I won’t be travelling much or writing after that for a year or so. Otherwise, it might just be because it is occupying my thoughts a lot at the moment, but I’d like to do a series about birth around the world: the different approaches of different cultures to this fundamental life event that everyone goes through.

 

I’d also love to get back to Myanmar when I can, partly to promote the book and also to discuss whether there is any interest in translating it into Burmese. Otherwise I’ll see what lies ahead!

 

Here’s the link to buy the book btw – any promo appreciated! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Other-Ladies-Myanmar-Jennifer-Rigby/dp/9814818259

 

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