Depth-report students studying in Bolivia


With the goal of training a new generation of journalists capable of reshaping the news industry, 10 students and two faculty members from the College of Journalism and Mass Communications are traveling to Bolivia on a 10-day depth-reporting mission this month.

Funded by a grant from the Carnegie Corp. of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and team-taught by Carla Kimbrough and Luis Peon-Casanova, the trip is part of a series of interdisciplinary courses that focuses on issues relating to indigenous people. Bolivia is the only nation in South America whose government is led by an indigenous president.

"Being able to tell the stories of other people accurately is both a privilege and a responsibility," said Kimbrough, an associate professor of journalism. "Our students have an awesome opportunity to tell a variety of stories of Bolivia's original people, their words and their perspectives. Bolivia is a fascinating place, where indigenous people - who make up nearly two-thirds of the citizens - are transforming the nation at every level."

Students began preparing for the year-long course during the spring to develop potential sources. Students will use the time in Bolivia conducting interviews and they'll spend the fall semester writing stories about what they found and creating a magazine and website.

Peon-Casanova, professor of visual literacy, said a primary focus of the class is to help students learn to approach journalism as an integrated subject that includes interviews, taking their own photos, and broadcasting and marketing the stories.

"Even if a student is primarily a writer, he or she is going to have to be versatile in different mediums in order to be successful," said Peon-Cassanova.

UNL was invited in 2007 to join the Carnegie-Knight Initiative for the Future of Journalism Education, a consortium of the country's top journalism schools formed to help redefine journalism education. This is the second year students are participating in the program; during the first year, students studied Native American women.

The College of Journalism and Mass Communications has a long history of documentaries and depth reports that have garnered awards, including the 2009 Society of Environmental Journalism's Award for Reporting on the Environment for "Ethanol: Salvation or Damnation"; the 2007 Renewable Natural Resources Foundation Excellence in Journalism Award to "Platte River Odyssey"; the Student Academy Award winning documentary "Cuba: Illogical Temple"; and the Pulitzer Prize-nominated magazine "Cuba: An Elusive Truth."

A list of students participating in the Bolivia depth report is available at

- By Marilyn Hahn, Journalism and Mass Communications

More details at: