Master of Journalism students who are taking Assistant Professor Thomas Abraham‘s JMSC 6048 International News class are recording their articles on a newly-established class website, World Watch.
“The international news class trains students to report on the global issues that influence and shape the world today, ranging from conflicts, wars and political change to the threats posed by resource shortages,” said Abraham.
“The course has a strong practical element, and students report on these issues for World Watch, the class website.”
Articles have covered such wide-ranging subjects as justice for victims of human rights abuses in Columbia, a Filipina maid winning a landmark court case on immigration in Hong Kong and the failings of the Afghan police.
Evelyn Ho, from Singapore, chose to write about a protest that failed to take place in Burma last month.
“The planned protest was to commemorate the Saffron Revolution of 2007 but it was aborted without any bloodshed — something of a rarity in Burma given its recent history,” said Ho.
“What I was hoping to examine was whether this was a baby step that Burma was taking towards democracy.”
Ellen Cheung Oi Lun, from Hong Kong, covered China stepping up its warning to America over sales of arms to Taiwan.
Cheung used Reuters as her initial source.
She then studied the story in the Chinese press, the BBC website and looked at the White House’s foreign policy guidelines.
Cheung was pleased to see her report appear on the World Watch website.
“This is a means to put what you have learned from the course into practice,” she said.
“After covering a story, you know what you are good at and what you failed to do, which is your compass to improve yourself. You will avoid pitfalls and do better reporting next time.”
For Abraham’s class, each student has to produce three such stories during the semester, in addition to a longer analytical story.
“Thanks to the web and social networking tools, some of our students have been able to get in touch with experts and people on the ground in different parts of the world and interview them by e-mail.
“They have produced great stories, considering that they have no journalism experience at all,” said Abrahams, clearly impressed.
Ho gained an interview with Burma expert, Dr Pavin Chachavalpongpun, Lead Researcher for Political and Strategic Affairs, ASEAN Studies Centre at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore, for her story.
“I had read about Dr Chachavalpongpun’s work from the ISEAS website and felt that he would be able to provide insightful and interesting views,” she said. “I was lucky that he very kindly responded to my queries willingly and promptly.”
Sergio Held Otero, from Colombia, wrote about the recent Hong Kong High Court’s decision on a foreign domestic helper’s application for right of abode and its impact on other common law countries and jurisdictions.
“Since I studied law in Colombia, the first thing I thought was the legal implication of that decision to other common law jurisdictions where Hong Kong’s precedent can be brought to court,” said Held Otero.
He interviewed the director of The Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics in Singapore and an Australian advocate activist on migrants’ rights.
“I also did a lot of research about migrant Filipinos and figures related to them: number of migrants abroad and remittances sent to the Philippines.”
“The World Watch website is a great opportunity for students to contribute,” Held Otero continued. “It provides fresh and in-depth analysis about the major international news stories that are taking place.”
Students said they have found Abraham’s class both interesting and useful.
“I opted to take up the course because I was interested in international news, although I have to confess that I was something of a dilettante,” said Ho.
“I think since I started with the international news course, I have become more diligent in reading about a country such as Burma. I have also become more interested in reading a range of news reports just to verify facts and assess the validity of the opinions expressed in the reports.”
“I took Professor Abraham’s class because of its focus on major international affairs,” said Cheung. “I hope to become a world news reporter, so I must have a broad world view. This is precisely what this class offers.”