As I’ve written about before, every spring I teach an intensive 5-week course that simulates a newsroom. The students must create a comprehensive multimedia website about a particular issue in Qatar. This year, we chose Qatar’s efforts to develop a sports culture in the country. The site is called Qatar Sports Tanmiya and features many interesting and excellent articles, videos and data graphics.
Here’s an excerpt from my students’ press release about the site (it was part of their assignment):
Qatar Sports Tanmiya is Live
Students at Northwestern University in Qatar launch Qatar Sports Tanmiya, a website that investigates the development of sports, in the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup host.
11 February 2015; Doha, Qatar – As Qatar continues to promote itself as an up-and-coming sporting hub of the Middle East, students enrolled in the Advanced Online Storytelling course at Northwestern University in Qatar are launching a multimedia news website that explores Qatar’s attempts to cultivate a sports culture in the country.
Today, the students are proud to announce the launch of their unique website Qatar Sports Tanmiya: http://www.qatarsportstanmiya.org. This multi-media website features a plethora of information about the developing sports scene in Qatar. From the construction of state-of-the-art stadiums for the 2022 World Cup and growing support for local women participating in competitive sports, to the promotion of athletics among the disabled and the enhancement of sports facilities for migrant workers.
In a span of five intensive weeks, students interviewed athletes and representatives of sports organizations, compiled statistics about rising sports infrastructure, and researched the country’s future plans in further developing its sporting platform. The information they gathered has been packaged into multiple photo, video and data-animation reports.
The Advanced Online Storytelling journalism course prepares students for their junior-year public relations or journalism residencies, during which they spend 10 weeks working at a professional news or communications organization. On Feb. 13, 2015, students will travel to Washington D.C., London, Munich and other cities for their residencies at sites such as USA Today, The Washingtonian, Grayling, Bloomsbury Publishing and Helga Bailey GmbH.
Despite the challenges the students faced when reporting, they feel confident about applying their skills in a professional environment. Malak Monir, a student who wrote an article about sports culture among migrant workers, experienced some difficulties during the reporting process. “The language barrier was something of a challenge, since a lot of my potential interviewees were not very comfortable with English nor Arabic,” she said. “I have gotten used to the fact that setting up interviews can take time and considerable persistence.”
Monir, who will be completing her residency at USA Today in Washington, D.C., is grateful for the skills she acquired during her academic journey at NU-Q. “I no longer feel particularly nervous about just going up and talking to people. You have to spend a lot of time out in the field, you have to be observant of details, and you have to be able to approach people in a way that makes them comfortable enough to talk to you,” she said.
Instructor Christina Paschyn, lecturer of journalism in residence at NU-Q, oversaw the production of the website. In the country’s lead up to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Paschyn was curious to know the perspectives of locals and officials as to what impact international sporting events may have on the country. “According to governmental statistics, not many Qataris play sports professionally or watch them in-person in stadiums, so we want to know how the ministries and even private organizations are trying to change Qatari society through sports,” she said.