Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Some surprises: About the classes and students I'm teaching

Today was my second day of teaching and I'm starting to understand a little better how Russians and Americans are different... and also similar.

The main difference is that, given the still precarious economy, the students have to think more about how they can support themselves than American students. As a result, they have less time to experiment and take risks with online journalism that may (or may not) pay off in the future. The system does not encourage them to think about what MIGHT be needed in 5 or 10 years, but instead to train for what is needed today. In some ways this is no different from the United States, where journalism students get minimal training in online journalism. The difference here is that the students rarely have the luxury of even thinking about anything that will not bring in money right away.

Another big difference is that advertising and journalism are taught together, with students from both sides of the "editorial wall" sharing classes and ideas. Students have told me that it isn't unusual for journalists to write advertising pieces, and they were quite surprised when I told them that wouldn't be considered ethical in the United States.

Where they are similar to Americans is in their knowledge of the Internet and their use of cell phones, chat, blogs, etc. When I showed them my photos from the Internet cafe here and asked if they thought the boys might be their target audience for online news in the future, they laughed. But I can see that what I'm telling them about online news, and how it will probably develop here, has captured their attention.

As a result, I have been lucky to have their undivided attention for the past few days. A number of students who showed interest in doing online stories for this blog came through with definite appointments.

Tomorrow morning I'll visit the regional television station with several students who work there. We'll watch the morning news broadcast and then the political debates between candidates running for election this weekend. Tomorrow night I'm going to a men's choral concert with Dmitri, so look for another audio slideshow about that on Thursday.

Either Thursday or Friday I'll be visiting some historic nearby islands with several students. Several students are bringing in photos of Vladivostok and other parts of Russia, which they'll pair with narrated texts in Russian for the blog. Finally, I'll be working on adding multimedia to a local site in English about Vladivostok's historical sites and posting a link here.

That's a lot of projects, so please keep visiting and sending your comments. The students are very interested in seeing your feedback!


Natalya said...

Hello Lauren! It was very interesting to read such a detailed post. Seems like I have understood your point about those kids in the cafe. They play on-line games and internet is a very usual thing for them. But when they grow up, they will obtain new interests. And when it happens, they will become our target auditory. Did I understand quite right? :)
Natalya, your Vladivostok student.

Lauren Hertel said...

Hi Natalya,

You understood exactly right! We’re already seeing this change in the United States. Young people want information as much as their parents, but they demand it when they want it.

This is difficult for many newspapers, television and radio stations to understand and accept, so they try to ignore it. But that isn’t possible.

I’m glad you posted a comment on the blog— you’re the first student here to do so!

See you tomorrow,

Don sebastian, Uncle Don said...

Hello Lauren! you made me a Bogger, I think. Very interesting following your trip.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Lauren!

I use this weblog as a chance to say once again - thank you for you inspiring lecture for on-line editors and web-masters in the Far Eastern State University. I am fond of not only your knowledge and readiness to share the valuable information, but also - and I find this even more important - your irresistible charming personality. “Once upon a time” I spent a year in the United States and I know how different our mentalities are. That is why I value very much the meeting with those Americans whom I can understand and accept – smart, charming, very attractive and modest at the same time – as you. I wish you every success and good luck.

Olga Zaytseva, on-line editor, “Vladivostok” Broadcasting Corporation

Anonymous said...

Hi Lauren, Our children grew up in a large family of 8 children.They too did not have much oportunity or financial aid to plan years ahead they had to be more concerned with earning a living.Both Donna and Paul wnet to night school to recieve their college diplomas.Donna is Director of Human Resources and works for NY State.Paul in an RN andworks with the mentally handicaped.He has since gotten more degrees so he can plan to open his own office when he leaves the sstate job.Michael in VP Sales with a logistics co,Steven and Tim work in construction and Tim recently started a home improvement co, as a side line,Virginia is a home person,Robert works with computers and recently has purchased real estate to rent,Kevin is working as a teamster and his wife Monique is a partner in a medical office. Tims wife is a speech therapist and has her own offices.It does go to show what diversity can happen when all are presented with the same choices after high school