Students Get Taste of International Journalism

The reactions Kyle Bruggeman got when he told people he had studied photojournalism in Kazakhstan illustrated why he needed to go.

"Everybody asked, ‘Oh, where is that?’" said Bruggeman, a senior news-editorial major in UNL’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Kazakhstan is a central Asian country bordered by Russia to the north and China to the east. Freed from the Soviet Union in 1991, the young nation’s international influence is burgeoning because of its vast oil, gas and mineral resources and growing economy.

Yet it’s still a nation of contrasts between the haves in cosmopolitan cities and the have-nots in industrial and rural areas, said Bruce Thorson, associate professor of news-editorial. He and news-editorial professor Joe Weber mentored eight UNL students who spent three weeks documenting Kazakhs’ lives through photos, videos and stories.

The experience gave Bruggeman and other students a realistic look at the challenges of international journalism, such as using interpreters and finding sources willing to speak with Americans, Thorson said.

They also got a deeper perspective on what Kazakhs value. Even the poorest families are content if they’re healthy and able to put food on the table, he said.

Students will launch a multimedia website this fall and publish a book in late 2010. The project is supported by a gift from renowned photographers Howard Buffett, Thomas Mangelsen and Joel Sartore that enables UNL student journalists to travel to an emerging country where there is great human need. Previous groups went to South Africa and Kosovo.

"I hope our stories and photos give readers a glimpse into what life in Kazakhstan is about," Thorson said. "The students and I found a greater appreciation for this type of lifestyle, which is something you cannot get when you’re in the U.S."

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The 2009-2010 Annual Report is published by the
University of Nebraska−Lincoln Office of Research and Economic Development. More information is available
at or contact:

Prem S. Paul
Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development
301 Canfield Administration Building
University of Nebraska−Lincoln
Lincoln, Nebraska 68588-0433
(402) 472-3123  •

Vicki Miller, Monica Norby, Ashley Washburn, Elizabeth Banset, Office of Research and Economic Development

Contributing Writers:
Gillian Klucas, Kim Hachiya, Cara Pesek
Some articles are based on earlier stories from University Communications and IANR News Service and written by Kelly Bartling, Troy Fedderson, Sara Gilliam, Sandi Alswager Karstens, Daniel R. Moser, Judy Nelson, Tom Simons,
Steve Smith, Carole Wilbeck

Joel Brehm, Brett Hampton, Craig Chandler,
Alan Jackson/Jackson Studios, Greg Nathan,
Bruce Thorson, Robert Cope, Laurence Smith
Historic photos, page 22, courtesy Joyce Clarke Turvey

PDF/Print Design: Sym Labs

Website Design: Joel Brehm