Student stories from Mexico trip distributed nationally

May 29, 2009

University Park, Pa. — A series of stories by Penn State journalism students -- based on reporting done in a semester-long international reporting class that included a spring break trip to Mexico City -- appear online for anyone with Internet access to read and view, and have been distributed nationally as part of a relationship with McClatchy Newspapers.

Seventeen students from the College of Communications participated in the class; their in-depth stories touch on topics such as drug violence, kidnapping, religion, an international makeover of Barbie and more.

Many stories include multimedia components, and the students also filed separate video reports about other stories from the nine-day trip to Mexico. All the stories may be found at online.

"We are tremendously proud of the work by our students and faculty," said Ford Risley, head of the Department of Journalism. "It's a real testament to the quality of the stories that McClatchy Newspapers would make them available and that so many of their publications would use them."

Tony Barbieri, the Foster Professor of Writing and Editing, and Ann Kuskowski, a senior lecturer, served as joint instructors for the course: COMM 498B International Reporting. They traveled with the students to Mexico City.

Barbieri, whose resume includes 34 years of experience as a reporter and editor at The Sun in Baltimore, where he also completed stints as a foreign correspondent in Moscow and Tokyo, worked with officials from the Department of Journalism and selected Mexico City for the trip because of its proximity to the United States. They believed it provided a familiar yet exotic destination.

"I had very high expectations going in to this project, but the work our students did exceeded those expectations. They took on some very difficult and complicated stories, many of which would have been a challenge for even a seasoned foreign correspondent," Barbieri said. "I think they learned a lot about themselves -- that they could be held to pretty tough professional standards and still, by and large, perform at a pretty high level."

Likewise, Kuskowski was pleased with the outcome of the class and the trip.

"I didn't so much agree to go on the trip as beg to be allowed to go," Kuskowski said. "It was amazing to watch our students adapt to a foreign setting."

As a result of the relationship with McClatchy, the students’ stories have appeared in more than 15 U.S. newspapers, including: the Anchorage Daily News, the Charlotte Observer, the Sacramento Bee, the Kansas City Star and the Miami Herald.

The College of Communications plans additional international reporting classes each spring semester with different destinations from year to year.

  • Journalism students from the College of Communications spent a week in Mexico City as part of an international reporting class.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010