New course for war correspondents

A new course to train journalists entering conflict zones will be
offered by Athabasca University from September 15 to October 31.

The field experience course will include francophone troops, and bilingual applicants will be given preference.


CMNS 451/453 “Journalism in Conflict Zones”
“An online course running from Sept. 1 – Oct. 31, 2010, with an onsite rracticum component at CFB Wainwright”

“Athabasca University (Canada’s Online Open University) has developed a practicum project course, CMNS 451 “Journalism in Conflict Zones” in cooperation with the Canadian military.

“The course provides university credit for students participating in a 3-week media cell operation developed as part of the exercises that are organized several times each year for soldiers preparing to go to Afghanistan. [Note that a not-for-credit option, CMNS 453, has been developed for those people who do not need the for-credit course.]

“This is a wonderful opportunity for journalism students to discover what working in a conflict zone is all about. They receive the same preparation for Afghanistan as the troops. Then they role-play journalists for three weeks, in teams, and from a number of international perspectives. The students are expected to be as tough in their interviewing and reporting as they would be on the job.

“The military has constructed a television studio and acquired professional recording equipment for the media cell. Two professional journalists with experience in war zones will be on-site to mentor the students, who are divided into teams representing differing points of view: Afghan journalists, international journalists, embedded national, and so on. They alternate amongst these perspectives over the next two weeks. Each day, the students are out in the field finding news, then back in the studio to put together a 6 p.m. broadcast. The tapes of these broadcasts are given to the troops the next day so that they can see how the media reports on their words and actions. Students take home all their tapes at the end of the exercise.

“The exercises take place on land where the military has reproduced many different terrains and replicas of actual Afghan villages. Afghan speakers role-play the villagers. Each day, there are multiple scenarios acted out, with analysis and de-briefing each day.

“The on-site practicum will be part of an online course in which students will meet/discuss/peer review work online; participate in an online workshop; access/read and review materials related to the media and the military; post their work; and submit a final report. Students will have the use of an e-portfolio tool for presenting their work for evaluation.

“Students will live on base from Sept. 15-Oct. 5, 2010. The army will transport the students to CFB Wainwright and back to the Edmonton airport, or will pick them up from and deliver them to a designated site in Edmonton.  All room and board costs are provided free of charge by the military. Athabasca University will provide travel bursaries for up to $700 Cdn for return trips to Edmonton.

“The only cost students need incur is the AU student registration fee ($100) and the cost of a course. The for-credit course, CMNS 451 will cost $646 total for Alberta residents and $741 for out of province. The not-for-credit course, CMNS 453 will be offered at cost recovery (considerably less); the amount will be determined shortly. There are no other costs from the University.”