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South Africa

Journalism & Digital Media

Study abroad in South Africa. Explore journalism ethics on a global scale as you learn the fundamentals of journalism and reporting in news-rich and sociopolitically complex South Africa.

At a Glance

Credits

6

Prerequisites

Strong writing skills and an interest in journalism and digital media.

Courses taught in

English

Dates

Jun 21 – Aug 2

Program Countries

South Africa

Program Base

Durban

Critical Global Issue of Study

Identity & Human Resilience

Overview

Why study abroad in South Africa?

Close to three decades into democracy, South Africa continues to struggle with the legacy of apartheid. With the highest income inequality in the world, South Africa is still transforming its political, educational, economic, and health sectors, amidst widespread corruption. During apartheid, the state used media as part of its ideological state apparatus, routinely censoring media if it showed any sympathy to the anti-apartheid movement. Today, the media and civil society serve as central pivots in both exposing corruption and enhancing South Africa’s democracy. This program provides students the opportunity to immerse themselves in South Africa’s complex sociopolitical landscape as they learn about the fundamentals of journalism and reporting.

Students will work with award-winning journalists at Times Media Group or the Daily Maverick in Cape Town or Durban and carry out the full scope of story development, from identifying and researching story ideas, determining newsworthiness, finding sources, working with editors, and adhering to the highest standards of journalism. In addition, you will visit important sites like the Luthuli Museum, former home of the first African Nobel Peace Prize winner; the Mandela House in Johannesburg; and the Phoenix Settlement in Durban, home of the late Mohandas Gandhi. You will also see a wide range of exotic animals on safari in the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve. Near the end of the program, you will tour Cape Town to visit museums that tell the unique history of slaves from the Indonesian archipelago and the history of separate development in Cape Town. Adventure seekers will get to climb Table Mountain, a World Heritage Site, and see a picturesque view of Cape Town on a sunrise hike up Lion’s Head.

Highlights

  • Work with award-winning journalists in South Africa’s best newsrooms.
  • Witness the history, dismantling, and effects of South Africa’s apartheid system.
  • Visit the homes of the late Nelson Mandela, Mohandas Gandhi, and others.
  • Observe lions, leopards, buffalo, elephants, giraffes, and zebras on safari.

Prerequisites

Strong writing skills and an interest in journalism and digital media.

program map

Excursions

In and Around Durban

Durban is a vibrant center of the anti-apartheid struggle that provides a sociologically rich context for learning, enhanced by a fusion of African, western, and Asian influences. As you undertake your local interviews and observations, you will encounter Durban’s colorful personalities, landmarks, cultural organizations, and diverse cuisine. You will visit residents of an informal shack-dwellers settlement; traders in an African market; an ecotourism project; a center for jazz and popular music; and local schools.

Johannesburg

In Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa, you will visit the Apartheid Museum and Freedom Park Museum to gain a better understanding of the 20th century history of South Africa. You will see the Constitutional Court and Soweto, where you will learn how students joined the struggle against apartheid at the Hector Pieterson Museum. You also will explore the Mandela House, former home of Nelson and Winnie Mandela.

Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve

Visit the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve, one of the largest and oldest game reserves in South Africa, where you will have the chance to spot the “Big Five” (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, and black and white rhino), as well as giraffes and zebras.

Cape Town

During the evaluation period, the program travels to Cape Town, where you will typically visit Robben Island, site of the prison that held many political activists including the late South African President Nelson Mandela, who was there for 18 years. Robben Island is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition, you will trek or ride up the scenic cliffs of Table Mountain, part of the coastal Table Mountain National Park. You may have some time to explore the city on your own.

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.

Academics

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a general understanding of journalistic and digital media ethics, fundamentals, and standards, especially as practiced in a global environment.
  • Discuss how South Africa’s history and culture have come to define the country’s media landscape.
  • Produce a professional-quality pitch with sharp attention to the highest professional standards.
  • Conduct a field-based journalistic or digital media project with respect to professional and ethical norms.
  • Produce a report that documents the process of producing their feature story or photography.

Read more about Program Learning Outcomes.



Coursework

The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.


Key Topics

  • History of the press and media in South Africa
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  • BRICS and South Africa’s role in South-South relations
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  • Political corruption in South Africa
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  • Youth activism and student protest movements
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  • Black consciousness and Pan-Africanism
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  • Liberation movements on the African continent
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  • Gandhi and his role in developing community media in South Africa

Ethics and Fundamentals of Journalism and Digital Media

Ethics and Fundamentals of Journalism and Digital Media – syllabus
(JOUR-3500 / 3 credits)

This course examines how journalism ethics inform and shape reporting—both conceptual and practical—and equips students with skills to write a news feature story in South Africa. Students will critically examine the origins, role, and rationales of South Africa’s journalism ethics as the lens through which they will explore journalism ethics on a global scale. Hands-on assignments require that students practice the art of developing a story pitch in preparation for creating a piece on an important issue related to South Africa’s sociopolitical context some three decades into democracy. Peer editing of the pitch, in collaboration with South African journalists, provides the experiential and practical context through which students gain deep insights into the ethical milieu that shape South African journalism. The final pitch becomes the subject of the student’s summer project in journalism. Course instructors facilitate class discussions, group activities, reflection sessions, and individual meetings to draw out critical lessons.

Independent Study Project in Journalism and Digital Media

Independent Study Project in Journalism and Digital Media – syllabus
(ISPR-3000 / 3 credits)

In this course, students execute a full-length feature on a political issue in South Africa or the contemporary world more broadly, in the media format of their choosing and depending upon their experience in that format. The feature should meet the standards for publication or broadcast in a media outlet in South Africa. Students partner with South African journalism and digital media trainees at the Times Media Group or the Daily Maverick in either Cape Town or Durban and are mentored by professional South African journalists. Professional journalists and digital media experts provide hands-on advice and mentoring at every stage of story development, sharing expertise gathered from years in challenging reporting situations. Story topics are assessed based on originality, richness, and appeal to a broad audience in both the U.S. and South Africa. Students learn what it means to organize a story, to select sources, to question deeply, to work toward balance, to be alert to bias and clichés, respond to editors’ feedback, check facts, rework and re-write, strive for clarity and achieve accessible, flowing prose supported by images.

Homestays

Cato Manor

Live with isiZulu-speaking families for five weeks in Cato Manor, an urban township about five kilometers from SIT’s Durban facility and very close to other students. You’ll practice isiZulu and witness the richness and challenges of daily life. You can expect to have cell phone reception, flush toilets, and electricity.

Excursion & Orientation Accomodations

During the final weeks of the program, many students in Durban choose to stay in beachfront apartments. In Cape Town, accommodation is in the city. Other accommodations during the program may include hostels, private homes, or small hotels.

Discover the Possibilities

  • Cost & Scholarships

    SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award nearly 1 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

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