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International Reporting Program partners with institutions around the world, pilot for new Global Reporting Program

      ubc                                                                                                     irp

International Reporting Program partners with institutions around the world, pilot for new Global Reporting Program


(Sept. 21, 2016) At a time when global reporting is in crisis and models of foreign correspondence are being questioned, the Emmy Award-winning International Reporting Program (IRP) at the University of British Columbia’s School of Journalism is revolutionizing the way in which global reporting is taught and produced, through a new global partnership with three major universities.

The IRP will partner with university-based journalism programs across the globe, allowing graduate students to investigate and report through true cross-border and cross-cultural collaborations. The course is a pilot for a long-term Global Reporting Program, which will allow a consortium of journalism schools to work together, teaching and producing major works of global journalism.

This new framework challenges the traditional model of “parachute journalism,” the common practice in which Western reporters fly into an area for a short period of time, hire local guides, make observations and write up their findings for audiences back home.

“Our goal is to innovate the way global reporting is done and empower student journalists around the world to come together to find new ways to research and tell complex stories,” said Peter Klein, director and founder of the IRP. “Our responsibility at universities is to help forge the future of journalism, and that’s precisely what this class is aiming to do.”

The IRP was established in 2008, through a $1 million donation from the Mindset Social Innovation Foundation, with the mandate to teach and innovate global reporting on under-covered issues. The program has produced a long list of successful projects, including Out of the Shadows, a New York Times/Al Jazeera collaboration about global mental illness which won the Online Journalism Award in the Pro-Am category this past weekend.

The topic of this year’s project is the future of cities. “As three quarters of the world’s population moves into cities by the middle of the century, urban centres will have increasing challenges,” said Murali Chandrashekaran, Senior Associate Dean of the Sauder School of Business, who is helping to teach the class. Students are also enrolled in Dr. Chandrashekaran business course on urban resilience, to gain scholarly grounding in this complex topic.

In addition to UBC, this year’s fellows hail from Jain University (India), Universidad de los Andes (Colombia) and Nanjing University (China).

All students will engage in weekly classes in person and through teleconference, and will work in small teams to produce major works of global journalism in multiple languages.

About the International Reporting Program

The International Reporting Program has afforded close to 100 graduate students the opportunity to report and produce major works of global journalism. These projects have appeared in The New York Times, CBS News, PBS FRONTLINE, CBC, VICE News, Al Jazeera, The Globe & Mail and Toronto Star, and have won a long list of awards, including the Emmy for Best Investigative Magazine, two Sigma Delta Chi Awards and three Edward Murrow Awards, as well as numerous multimedia reporting awards.

Every year, students focus their reporting on a global issue that is neglected by mainstream media. An advisory board of scholars and journalists help identify the topic and determines admission.

“Our plan with the IRP from the start was to grow it into something bigger,” said Prof. Klein, who founded the program. “A new collaborative Global Reporting Program is part of that plan.”

The GRP is modeled loosely on the successful News21 initiative out of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University, which has afforded 500 students throughout North America the opportunity to work together on enterprise reporting projects in the United States. News21 was established by grants from the Carnegie Corporation and the Knight Foundation. “The GRP is looking for funding to endow a similar student collaboration, on a global scale,” said Prof. Klein.

The GRP would be part of the Global Reporting Centre, a new non-profit journalism organization based at UBC which is focused on innovating global journalism.

About the Global Reporting Centre

The Global Reporting Centre (GRC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to highlighting important neglected stories around the world and advancing norms and practices of global reporting.

By collaborating with leading reporters, scholars and media organizations, the GRC spearheads innovative ways of producing solutions-oriented journalism.

The centre has grown out of the successful International Reporting Program at the University of British Columbia, which trains graduate students in global reporting. Responding to the increasing need for thoughtful and engaging reporting around the world, GRC journalists work alongside local stakeholders and spend the time needed to do deep reporting on complex global issues.

For more information, visit Follow the GRC on Facebook and Twitter.



Prof. Peter Klein — Director, International Reporting Program

+1 604 822 5823

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Out of the Shadows wins awards and nominations


Out of the Shadows, a multimedia documentary about global mental health, has been recognized with several awards and nominations, and is receiving widespread attention.

The project won the Online Journalism Award in the Pro-Am category, which honors the best professional-amateur student collaboration in digital media. It also won a Digital Publishing Award for Best Digital Editorial Package, as well as a regional Edward R. Murrow Award in the category Small Online News Organization – Video News Series, International. The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) nominated the project for the Human Rights Reporting Award.

“Our approach has been to look not only at the challenge of mental illness around the world, but also highlight things that are working,” said Peter Klein, who co-led the project with Dave Rummel, Kathryn Gretsinger and Dr. Videsh Kapoor. “I think this has resonated with audiences, and offered some glimmer of hope in a story that would otherwise be quite bleak.”


In April, the World Bank and World Health Organization borrowed the title of our project for the first global gathering of experts and policymakers to discuss the economic and political implications of global mental illness. The WHO/World Bank “Out of the Shadows” event was also the site of the premier of the virtual reality film “FRANCIS,” which was produced in partnership with the Global Reporting Centre, utilizing creative commons material from the International Reporting Program multimedia documentary. Four hundred health and finance ministers from around the world experienced the VR project, which personalizes the experience of suffering from mental illness in a lower-resourced country. Since the screening, the film has been requested to be shown at major global gatherings of influencers, including the Kennedy Forum, the United Nations and the World Economic Forum.

The student-led project took student reporters and faculty members to Togo, Benin, Jordan and India, and yielded two New York Times video projects, as well as a front-page newspaper article written by the paper’s science desk.

The Global Reporting Centre also developed the project into a documentary for Al Jazeera, which focuses on Dr. Vikram Patel and his efforts to develop community-based mental health care around the world. The Al Jazeera documentary was shortlisted for a One World Media Award, which is based in the UK and recognizes excellence in international media.

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