Crossing Borders

Anastasia Kovalenko, "Perspektivy"

Tim Heritagefrom Reuters and participants of advanced training for future mentors of Perspektivy visiting Reuters newsroom in London. December 2016

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'Crossing Borders': a training for future mentors of Perspektivy program took place in London

A training for the project mentors took place in London on December 15-21 for the first time. Eight best participants from the Perspektivy program previous seasons were invited to learn the basics of working with information, taking decisions on editing, resolving difficult situations, motivation and effective interaction with reporters, who will be future participants of Perspektivy program.

Synthesis of Knowledge

The main goal of the London intensive course was to train junior mentors so they can help the participants of Perspektivy program future seasons. The idea is that the mentors will be able to support the candidates at the stages of searching and developing the topic, collecting the material, structuring media projects. According to Nabi Abdullaev, the leading mentor of Cross Border Journalism project within Perspektivy program, the training was aimed at developing editor’s mindset in future mentors. Such mindset should allow them to look at the tasks not only as separate stories, but also as a part of larger product and editing process at the same time, emphasized Nabi.

The training was performed by Nabi Abdullaev, ex-editor of the Moscow Times, and Nicholas Phythian, a journalist with many years of work experience at Reuters Information Agency. The intensive training course for future mentors consisted of mini-lectures, brainstorming activities, informal communication. “I used my experience of a reporter and editor to explain the participants how the article topic choice is related to the target audience, how to work with sources in a proper way, how to structure long articles, and how to take editing decisions in situations that bear risks for the reporters”, tells Nabi Abdullaev.  

 According to Marta Ardashelia, the future project mentor, senior mentors of the training course explained the process of choosing the topic, finding an interesting angle of information presentation, highlighting certain details. They also told about the work of a mentor and the right approach to the program participants that would help to achieve “maximum result and cooperation”. Future mentor Martha pointed out that the knowledge that Nabi and Nick passed on, helped her to understand the essentials of mentorship: “I made specific conclusions on how to work with colleagues in a most efficient way and how to make my experience useful for them without imposing, but through sharing according to the needs and requests of every individual.”        

“I specialize on political and economic events in Russia and Ukraine. In contrast, in London we worked on a draft for material based on local events. Such change of focus helps to recap both your theoretical knowledge and practical skills”, says training participant Elena Ostanina. “As a result you increase the number of working patterns that can be introduced into everyday activity later on”.      

Football, Chichvarkin and Gay Bar

As part of the intensive training, future mentors tried to work on their own journalism projects in small groups. Based on the task the journalists worked “in the field” themselves, visited a gay bar, met a famous Russian businessman, and attended a football match.

 Thus, Martha Ardashelia and Alisa Kustikova interviewed Russian entrepreneur Evgeny Chichvarkin, who has been living in London since 2008. “The interview turned out to be very interesting in the end. I tried to structure it according to the principles that we discussed during the training. We also took pictures and made a video. Making a video on my iPhone and preparing the material was quite a good practical experience for me,” says Martha. Later the interview with multimedia material was published in Sova Internet portal. The material was very popular and Chichvarkin himself published it on his social media page.

Nikita Kuzmin, Elena Ostanina and Maxim Kurnikov visited a home match of Tottenham, one of the London leading football clubs, in order to compare football infrastructure in the UK and Russia.

The third group of participants including Emine Ziyatdinova and Natasha Benitsevich went to a London gay bar as a part of their mission. Future mentors interviewed homosexual women about the life of homosexual community there.   

After performing their field activities, the trainees took up the role of each other’s mentors. Using the acquired skills they tried to direct the discussion around the collected facts, helped to structure the text and come up with a clear plan of the future journalistic material. 

 According to future mentors’ feedback, London intensive training course on mentorship, special features of different text types and their perception, and much more, offered a rich theoretical and practical experience in mentoring large interesting projects.

“I’m a journalist and editor myself as well as media mentor and coordinator of journalistic investigation project that is why this intensive course has been a great opportunity to broaden my professional horizons,” says future mentor Nikita Kyz’min. “Prespektivy program together with Thomson Reuters Foundation make it possible for journalists from different regions to create high quality media projects. I would like my experience in this area to be useful as well”.