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Barbara Lombardo writes about journalisml, local news and anything else that strikes her fancy. She is executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News, sister papers in the Digital First Media family. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

UAlbany to help Tunisia train tomorrow's journalists

Young people who read news do it online. Facebook is extremely popular for sharing news. Journalism students have fewer job opportunities and earn less money than their communications department counterparts who go into public relations. Yet journalism is an increasingly popular major.
In Tunisia.
From left, University at Albany biology professor John Schmidt,
 UAlbany Journalism Director Nancy Roberts, and
 Moez Ben Messaoud, head of the Communications Department
 of Tunisia's Press and Information Sciences Institute.
Yes, Tunisia. Just like here.
I learned this tonight over curried chicken and vegetable samosa in the Saratoga Springs backyard of University at Albany Journalism Program Director Nancy L. Roberts, who was hosting an informal get-together with three colleagues visiting from Tunisia and journalism instructors at UAlbany, where I teach a reporting class one night a week.
Moez Ben Messaoud, head of the communications department of Tunisia’s Press and Information Sciences Institute, and I had lots of questions for each other about journalism students and programs and more. He is here with Taoufik Yacoub, who runs the institute, and Hamida El Bour, head of its journalism department.
UAlbany journalism professor Thomas Bass obtained a grant with which the department is helping to create a master’s journalism program at the Tunisian university, which has about 800 media students. The three visitors were guests earlier today at the Times Union, and in the next few days will be at the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Tunisia, with a population of about 10 million, is the smallest country in Northern Africa. If Italy’s boot kicked Sicily, it would skip over the Mediterranean Sea and hit Tunisia in the nose. The revolutionary uprisings known as the Arab Spring that began in December 2010 originated in Tunisia. It is, to oversimplify, a struggling young democracy – a place ripe for eager, budding journalists.  

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