Professor Finds Student Journalists Making Their Voices Heard in Iraq

Reimold is writing a book on the cutting-edge student journalism practices around the world.

Published: Jun 23, 2011
Dan Reimold was able to travel to Iraq with the help of a UT David Delo research grant. While there he lectured at the university on the power of student press and the difference it can make.
Dan Reimold was able to travel to Iraq with the help of a UT David Delo research grant. While there he lectured at the university on the power of student press and the difference it can make.
When Dan Reimold teaches journalism at UT, he lectures students on the importance of having numerous sources, of digging deeper for stories with meaning and of using new formats for storytelling.

As the advisor for the Minaret, Reimold observes UT students every day as they figure out first-hand the power of the media. He’s also spent time in the Philippines and Singapore researching the craft and teaching. He writes for PBS MediaShift, maintains the College Media Matters blog (sponsored by the Associated Collegiate Press) and writes a twice-weekly column for USA Today College called “Campus Beat.”

So when the opportunity arose to travel to the Kurdish region of Iraq and visit with student journalists at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS), Reimold packed his bags.

“I was there to observe and report upon a courageous group of student journalists at AUIS who founded Iraq's first post-Saddam independent college newspaper, The AUISVoice,” said Reimold who spent two weeks in late May on the research trip.

AUIS is an English-speaking, private university modeled after Western liberal arts schools. Located in the northern Kurdish region, the newspaper’s one-and-a-half year existence has been followed closely by Reimold, who was contacted in 2010 by the newspaper’s founder, Jackie Spinner, a former Washington Post reporter who served in the paper's Baghdad bureau.

Since then, Reimold has written about the Voice for PBS MediaShift, College Media Matters, The Huffington Post and College Media Review, though he had yet to observe the budding journalists in action.

“It’s a spirited group of students and a scrappy little newspaper,” said Reimold, explaining that journalism tradition in the region is opinionated and activist, backed by political agendas. They are still figuring out the intricacies of covering controversial issues, using sourcing and maintaining accuracy. The school does not offer a journalism major or any journalism classes, and the newspaper is run as a student organization.

“The between-the-lines journalism is not something they can grasp yet,” Reimold said. “They are still working on defining what journalism is.”

While the founding advisor to the Voice recently returned to the states, the students are still working hard at keeping the momentum of the four-page paper, printing once every three weeks and distributing it on campus and at cafes and hookah lounges around the city. They have seen the power of their voices in the coverage of student protests over issues like the limitation of Facebook access on campus.

“In their own way I’d label them journalism revolutionaries with the irony that they are doing the most traditional type of journalism — printed news,” Reimold said. “Without formal training, writing in a language that isn’t their native tongue and using the Voice as a classroom, it’s pretty impressive they’ve been able to raise issues and make some change.”

Reimold was able to travel to Iraq with the help of a UT David Delo research grant. While there he lectured at the university on the power of student press and the difference it can make. He hopes to lead an Honors symposium sometime this year and has written a piece about his trip to Iraq for the St. Petersburg Times, set to publish July 3. Reimold’s research is part of his on-going interest in the student press and fodder for an upcoming book, his second, on the cutting-edge student journalism practices around the world. 

***Dan Reimold's story was published in the St. Petersburg Times on Aug. 7.***

Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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