by MADIHA MIRZA
Kristen Chick, the foreign correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor, gave a short talk to journalism and writing studies students at the University of Minnesota Duluth on Wednesday, Nov. 17. Chick is a freelance journalist and the foreign correspondent in Cairo for the Christian Science Monitor.
The talk started by Chick describing her educational background. Chick graduated in 2006 with a journalism and political science degree from the University of Alabama. She got a full bright scholarship to study Arabic in the American University of Cairo and has worked for The Washington Times. She said that she took a chance and went to Lebanon because she did not want to work in small town newspapers. She said that it was her good luck that while she was in Lebanon in 2006, a war between Israel and Hezbollah broke out and she covered it.
Chick talked about the condition of job market for journalism students and said that the job market is bad but there are opportunities for journalists to work abroad. There is decline of journalism industry in U.S. but there are lots of countries where newspapers are doing better. She stressed on the importance of learning a second language.
Chick emphasized on learning different skills to be a journalist. The most important skill is to create strong pitches. It is important to know what types of stories your newspaper is interested in publishing. She said that she took a course about how to pitch before she went to work in Egypt. She said that it is important to develop multimedia skills like video editing and photography. She said that a journalism degree is not important nowadays but learning the tools of journalism is important. It is important to have internships because experience counts a lot. She also said that sending your resume to journalismjobs.com will not help and you should develop contacts because most jobs are already filled before they are advertised.
During the summers, there was an issue in Egypt which Chick covered for CSM. The story involved the issue about Christians in Egypt. If they need a divorce, they have to contact the Coptic Church because the government does not interfere in their religious matters. There was a movement in which people tried to take the law out of the hands of the Church.
Chick also talked about her experience abroad. She said that it is hard to get stories unless you have a network of sources. Someone asked a question that does she get prejudiced against because she is a foreigner and Chick answered that sometimes people are hesitant to talk but sometimes it is opposite because people think that they can tell you anything since their views won't be published in their country. Answering a question about how her perspective has changed while working abroad, Chick said that when she was in college, she had fixed views but now she has learned so much more and has been detached with U.S. politics.
There are a lot of things I learnt from the talk by Chick and the most important is that journalism is all about hard work and dedication. I also learnt that there are still job opportunities for journalists in foreign countries and that it is important to learn the "tools of the trade".