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Graduate students get up-close look of three prestigious news organizations.

Feb 17, 2020

Posted in: News

By Mario Sequeira Quesada, Communications Intern

Students tour NPR with audience engagement staffer Kelsey Page
The students tour NPR with audience engagement staffer Kelsey Page.

Graduate students in the multimedia journalism program at the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture visited National Public Radio, CQ Roll Call and China Global Television Network in Washington D.C. on Feb. 3. The experience allowed the students to meet professional journalists who report on global issues and to learn about the challenges of reporting international news.

The visit to NPR was organized by Robertson School assistant professor Dr. Mariam Alkazemi and Dr. Chioke I’Anson, assistant professor of African American Studies at VCU and an underwriting announcer for NPR.

NPR audience engagement staffer Kelsey Page led students around the station. During the tour, students met the deputy international editor of the organization, Didrik Schanche. She started her journalism career in 1981 and has reported on ethnic conflicts, civil war, drought, hunger, AIDS, and wildlife in several countries in Africa. Schanche later became the editor for the Associated Press on Middle East coverage.

Students meet Robertson School alumna and show “All Things Considered” intern Brianna Scott at NPR headquarters
Students meet Robertson School alumna and show “All Things Considered” intern Brianna Scott (VPM shirt) at NPR headquarters.

The students also engaged with other NPR journalists, like Kat Lonsdorf, recipient of the Above the Fray Fellowship in 2019, which grants journalists the opportunity to cover important but largely untold stories around the world. Ramtin Arablouei also talked to the students and discussed the historical context of his podcast show, “Throughline.”
I’Anson, who is an underwriting announcer for NPR, invited Robertson School alumna Brianna Scott, who is a current intern at NPR’s show “All Things Considered.” Scott shared some minutes with the students and talked about her experience at the station.

Students tour CQ Roll Call headquarters.
Students tour CQ Roll Call headquarters.

I’Anson was excited to bring VCU students up for the day. “Ever since I started working with the NPR underwriting team, I've found NPR staff generally to be very helpful and open to sharing their knowledge,” he said.
Multimedia engineer Chris Barnett organized other visits to CQ Roll Call and CGTN.

At CQ Roll Call, Barnett talked to students about his experience working in China’s media industry and introduced them to foreign policy reporters Rachel Oswald and Patrick B. Pexton. Both journalists discussed with students the coverage of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and recommended different ways for students to begin a career in international journalism. They also talked to students about the reliability of sources and using the Freedom of Information Act.

Students meet and engage with “Full Frame” host Mike Walter at CGTN’s T.V. set.
Students tour CGTN headquarters with Mike Walter, news anchor and host of the show “Full Frame.”.

During the visit, students toured the set and control rooms of the station and met other reporters specialized in business and politics.

“Trips to meet journalists allow us to bridge the gap between theory and the daily practices of news organizations,” Alkazemi said. “It was inspiring to hear the perspectives of journalists who are entrenched in the industry, and I feel lucky that my students are able to hear a perspective that differs from mine.” For student Jaclyn Barton this was both an opportunity to see well-known media organizations and to learn about reporting international affairs. She enjoyed the experience of talking to professional journalists and admired the passion they feel for their jobs.

“Without this class at VCU, I don’t think I would have ever had the chance to visit NPR,” Barton said. “I’m glad VCU gave us the chance to experience such a fun day in Washington D.C. while learning from successful journalists.”

Students meet and engage with “Full Frame” host Mike Walter at CGTN’s T.V. set.
Students tour CQ Roll Call headquarters (photos by Professor Mariam Alkazemi).

I’Anson said that the trip was as educational for the professors as for the journalists, who asked each other questions about their work. “It's my hope that I'll be able to take more VCU students to NPR,” he said. “I'd also like to encourage more VCU journalism students to apply for the internship and other radio journalism opportunities.”