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Dominican leader visits School of Comm

POSTED SEPT. 18 AT 1 P.M.

The president and first lady of the Dominican Republic attended a luncheon at the School of Communication Monday to announce plans to join efforts in developing multimedia journalistic expertise and research in the rural and other parts of the country.

“We want our students to take advantage of the knowledge available at the University of Miami,” said President Leonel Fernandez.

The new plans are the culmination of a series of conversations between the university and the island nation, said School of Communication Dean Sam L Grogg.

There are several initiatives planned or underway between the Dominican Republic and the school. For instance, the Spanish Language Master’s in Journalism program is already hosting journalists from the Dominican Republic’s La Republica Libre newspaper.

“Our country is in a growth period,” said Mariela Gil, one of the Dominican students in the Spanish language program. She added that young people who do not take advantage of their education are in a “bad place.”

The main focus of Monday’s visit was to discuss the launch of more initiatives in new media journalism education.

“We have various projects in mind, but the one we are launching today is a training program for rural journalists,” Fernandez said, noting that journalists will be working at Community Technology Centers. “Many of the young people working at these centers are not professional journalists, but this program aims to professionalize them.”

The network of Community Technology Centers is part of an initiative headed by First Lady Margarita Cedeno de Fernandez. The 135 proposed centers are located in rural areas of the country. There are currently 45 centers in operation, each featuring 20 to 25 computers, a library with local and international literature, a movie screening room a and radio station.

To initiate the joint rural new media project, the School of Communication’s Knight Center for International Media will host a professional journalist or scholar from the Dominican Republic, who will work with the SoC faculty to prepare a plan and multimedia presentation to advance and explain the project.

“If we can train the journalists of rural areas and marginal populations in the Dominican Republic, it will represent a real-life experience for new and groundbreaking ways of teaching and research,” said Leonardo Ferreira, associate dean and director of graduate studies. “This project is being designed as a pilot study that will hopefully impact the Latin American region in a positive way.”

Sophia Pino may be contacted at sophiapino@gmail.com.

September 17, 2007

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