UCSB Offers Summer Journalism Trip to Jerusalem

Illustration by Alyssa Long

Jade Martinez-Pogue
National Beat Reporter

At the end of this academic year, UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) students will have the opportunity to strengthen their journalistic skills through an international reporting course that will take them to Jerusalem for three weeks. Although the program is not offered through UCSB, students on the trip, which will take place from June 28 to July 19, will receive transfer class credit from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem that can be applied to either the Journalism Certificate Program or serve as a prerequisite for the Professional Writing minor.

“In terms of international reporting and foreign correspondent work, Jerusalem is one of the most important posts because a lot of news emanates from there.” said Nomi Morris, UCSB writing professor and former Middle East Bureau Chief for Knight Ridder Newspapers (now McClatchy). “It’s a really great laboratory to learn journalism skills,” Morris said in an interview with The Bottom Line.

UCSB has partnered with the already-existing Institute for Education in International Media, ieiMedia, to give students this once-in-a-lifetime experience. There will be four preparatory class sessions during spring quarter of 2020 leading up to the trip that allow students to receive four transfer credits during the spring quarter and the summer.

This international reporting trip is designed to give students the opportunity to gain first-hand experience with foreign correspondence. Students will be able to report on stories happening in Jerusalem that they believe will be relevant to an American audience back home, as well as obtain interview and multimedia journalism experience. Along with reporting and writing articles, students will have the opportunity to develop their photography skills by having the chance to take photos that relate to the subject material of their articles. They will also have opportunities to gain experience with videography and Twitter and Instagram coverage.

The trip will cost students $3,745 for the three weeks, plus their own airfare and most meals while on the trip. A similar course was first offered last summer, when Morris took a group of students to Berlin, Germany, through UCSB’s Professional and Continuing Education Program (PaCE) for an international reporting trip. Morris said the base price of this year’s course is somewhat more than last year’s because the reporting trip is one week longer abroad.

There is an application process through ieiMedia, but there are no academic prerequisites for this course, which means that it is open to the entire UCSB community. Students will not have to submit writing samples nor interview to gain a spot on this trip. Morris does highly recommend that students have journalistic practice in the quarters preceding the trip as it will encompass “advanced reporting situations.”

Morris chose Jerusalem as the location for this year’s reporting trip in large part because of her vast level of knowledge and familiarity with the area.

“Like Berlin, it’s another place where I have been a foreign correspondent. So, I have a comfort level and a lot of experience in that area,” Morris said.

Morris was a foreign correspondent in Jerusalem from 1998-2001, where she wrote for Knight Ridder Newspapers, the second-largest newspaper chain in the country at the time. 

Although there is Palestinian-Israeli conflict in Jerusalem, Morris trusts her colleagues in the program and has checked the itinerary to make sure the trip will be safe for the students and also provide them the experience they need.

“Because I know the people that run the program and I’ve looked at the itinerary, I felt that it has the right balance between safety and still giving students the opportunity to observe and interview Palestinians,” said Morris.

Students will be staying at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which technically lies on the Israeli side of the region. Despite this, field trips to the West Bank are also scheduled to enable students to complete balanced reporting. 

“As a journalist who was a foreign correspondent in the Middle East and having gone back and forth between these communities, I think it’d really key to the experience that we’re giving students,” Morris said.

Chelsea Yupico, a fourth-year UCSB student that went on the international reporting trip to Berlin last summer, says that her experience on the Berlin trip helped improve her journalistic skills profoundly.

“I jumped into this with very minimal journalistic experience, so I was really learning the interviewing and writing process as I went along,” Yupico said. “Having Nomi as a guide who gave me pointers and also helped with the editing process was great.”

Students’ work will be published on Medium under The Jerusalem Project, a category on Medium built specifically to house the work of student journalists. The process of researching, reporting, writing, editing, and publishing before and during this trip will give students first-hand experience in the journalism field.

“Don’t be intimidated by how much work everything seems to be because it’ll all work out in the end. It’s a great experience, [I] would recommend to a friend,” Yupico said. “Just wear shoes that won’t kill your feet after walking for at least five miles a day.”

For more information about the trip, visit the UCSB ieimedia flyer.