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BARNAUL, Siberia, Russia — Imagine flying 5,000 miles with a story in your heart to tell about a student citizen journalism project on the U.S. Senate race in Kentucky.
UK journalism professor Buck Ryan not only did that, he ended up being photographed with a picture of his freshman teaching assistant on his chest in a seminar for the Press Development Institute-Siberia in Barnaul, Russia.
Ryan was invited to speak in Russia over 12 days in June by journalism organizations hosting seminars in three cities. In addition to the Press Development Institute session in Barnaul, he spoke to a Russian Union of Journalists gathering in Kirov and an Alliance of Independent Regional Publishers of Russia convention in Rostov-on-Don.
Ryan addressed gatherings that combined newspaper and online journalists with university journalism professors and government communication directors in the three locations. He demonstrated his Maestro Concept approach to story planning, his Media Maestro approach to delivering news across mobile phones, online, Web TV and traditional newspapers, and his Citizen Kentucky Project designed to engage young people in civic life through citizen journalism.
“I loved my time in Siberia because it was a homecoming,” said Ryan, who played host in September to six Russians visiting UK on a study mission for the Press Development Institute. “Plus I got a chance to show off the amazing work of my freshmen in Fall and Spring Discovery Seminars, which were prototype courses for ‘Citizenship’ under UK’s new General Education reform.”
Taylor Moak, who served as Ryan’s teaching assistant in the Spring Discovery Seminar, finished at the top of his fall Journalism 101 class when the Russians presented their innovative “Taktaktak” community problem-solving website in the White Hall Classroom Building lecture hall.
“It was great to see you again and to witness the real Maestro at work,” wrote Victor Yukechev, director of the Press Development Institute-Siberia in Barnaul, where Ryan conducted a two-day workshop. “Your ideas spurred numerous projects that our regional newspapers are eager to carry out as soon as possible.”
Moak joined Ryan as co-presenters of a session at the Kentucky Conference on the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning at the Marriott Griffin Gate Resort on May 27 entitled, “Turning Election 2010 into a Service-Learning Experience.”
They told the story of how their Spring Discovery Seminar, “Citizen Kentucky: Journalism and Democracy,” combined teaching, research and public service as students studied the U.S. Senate race in Kentucky and organized or moderated public forums with candidates running to succeed U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.).
The students also did a case study of how young voters in the Fall Discovery Seminar by the same name “came to public judgment” about which candidate to support in a mock election organized by the Kentucky Secretary of State’s Office.
The surprising findings, which showed that party affiliation and news stories were not key determinants, were presented at UK’s Spring Showcase for Undergraduate Scholars. Instead personal contact with candidates and their perceived behavior in public forums were the most important factors for the young voters studied.
“The Russians were surprised by the findings and impressed that young people could be so civically active,” Ryan said. “But Taylor was the most surprised to see her photo from our PowerPoint presentation show up on my chest. A Russian journalist shot the photo, sent it to Taylor by e-mail and got a response from her before my talk concluded. Amazing!”
This story was reported by Annie Wu and written in conjunction with a Shanghai University class taught by UK journalism professor Buck Ryan.