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!