Vociferous, contemplative students reach mid-term
As the spring semester sprints towards mid-term, I’ve been thinking about the outstanding students in my peace journalism class.
My peace journalism class, 13 strong (a small, wonderfully intimate class that is typical of Park University), has alternated between vociferous and nearly silent during these first eight weeks.
They were quiet and contemplative, for example, during the recent visit by Peter Makori, a gifted Kenyan journalist who told the class about his experiences being imprisoned and tortured by Kenyan government officials for uncovering corruption. Makori’s tale is a count-your-blessings story for my American students. It’s also a lesson in bravery and perseverance. Makori, knowing the consequences of uncovering government corruption, did so anyway for the greater good. Makori’s bravery is reminiscent, of course, of the sacrifice made by Marie Colvin and others in Syria.
The peace journalism students have been more animated during our many ethical discussions. They’ve read about the criticisms leveled against peace journalism, and have gone on the offensive against the critics. We’ve discussed Syria at length—should the press have an anti-Assad agenda? (See blog below). We’ve discussed the ethics of getting involved in a story, even if that involvement consists of helping starving children or orphans, something I’ve experienced in Uganda. Last Thursday, we discussed the concepts of vengeance, justice, and forgiveness, and how these apply to peace journalism.
As we discuss these weighty topics, the students seem surprised at my stock answer, which is “I’m not sure” or “I’m still wrestling with these issues myself.”
I’m hoping the students are as engaged the last half of the semester, which will include guest speakers (journalists and journalism trainers) from Afghanistan and the Philippines, among other places.
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