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Latin America

Journalism traineeships: "A hunger for Information"

Shora Azarnoush and César Sánchez Carranza might live on different continents but they have one thing in common: a desire to become journalists. She's learning the trade in Germany; he's doing the same in Bolivia.

DW-Volontäre Shora Azarnous and Cesar Fabricio Sánchez Carranza (photo: DW/M. Müller; DW Akademie: Rodrigo Villarzú).

Transatlantic trainees: Shora Azarnoush and César Fabricio Sánchez

Shora Azarnoush and César Fabricio Sánchez Carranza are different in many ways. She's originally from Iran but lives in Germany and is interested in politics. He was born in Bolivia and still lives there. His passion is sports. But both are taking part in high-quality journalism traineeships that last between 12 and18 months and include seminars and practical work. We asked them about their expectations of their future careers.

Shora Azarnoush studied French and literature in Iran, and then spent two years in Paris honing her language skills. Her next stop was Bonn where she completed an internship with DW's Persian service. She began Deutsche Welle's 18-month multimedia journalism traineeship in 2014.

César Fabricio Sánchez Carranza studied communications at San Pablo Catholic University (UCSP) in La Paz and got his first journalism experience as a sports journalist for the online magazine "Late!" He is among the first trainees to take part in a new dual journalism training program that was launched in Bolivia in 2014. It was initiated by the journalism foundation Fundación para el Periodismo (FPP) with support from DW Akademie and the German development organization, GIZ.

What prompted you to become a journalist?
Shora Azarnoush: I literally have a hunger for information, but access to information in Iran is highly restricted.
César Sánchez Carranza: I blame it on soccer. As a kid I used to dream of becoming a professional soccer player but I tore a ligament and had to stop training. Luckily though, I inherited my grandfather's love of reading and writing, so sports journalism seemed a great way to combine my passions.

Is there one topic you would definitely want to report on?

César Fabricio Sánchez Carranza and trainer Hans-Günter Kellner during an online seminar (photo: DW/Carlos Portugal).

César Fabricio Sánchez Carranza and trainer Hans-Günter Kellner during an online seminar

Azarnoush: For me it would be the plight of Afghan refugees in Iran - it moves me deeply. Afghans have been fleeing the ongoing war in their country for years and many have come to Iran. But even though Iranians and Afghan share a language, the Afghans are incredibly isolated and receive no support. They live in awful conditions but the government is doing nothing to help them.
Carranza: I'd do a report on match fixing in Bolivia's soccer league, or a report on the mismanagement of the soccer club "The Strongest." It almost went bankrupt last year.

What is the most important trait that a journalist should have?
Carranza: A sense of ethics.
Azarnoush: Curiosity.

Which journalism reports or projects have recently inspired you?
Carranza: I very much liked "The day Inca Kola beat Coca Cola," a report produced by the Peruvian online magazine "Etiqueta Negra." It looked at how a small local company was able to sell more than a huge international corporation. When it comes to sports, I was impressed by an online portrait of the soccer player Lionel Messi called "Messi, the top scorer who keeps us wide awake, goes to bed" ("Messi, el goleador que nos despierta, se va a dormir"). It took a look at life beyond the soccer field.
Azarnoush: I enjoyed a project we learned about in a seminar on multimedia storytelling. A local Berlin newspaper did a story on a bus route that cuts across the city. By presenting visualized data at every bus stop, users could see how people vote in different neighborhoods, for example, or the number of immigrants living there, what the crime rate is and other information. It was fascinating.

Are new technologies an important part of the traineeship and editorial departments you're familiar with?

Shora Azarnoush during a VJ seminar (photo: DW Akademie).

Shora Azarnoush attending a VJ seminar

Azarnoush: Yes, they are in the traineeship - the trainers know a lot about digital technology and are very motivated. It’s much more limited in DW's editorial departments, though.
Carranza: In Bolivia, editors-in-chief are still focusing on traditional journalism so new media really don't have a chance. They don't see Facebook and Twitter as useful journalistic tools.

Name the three Facebook pages you most recently "liked".
Carranza: For me, it was the El Alto local newspaper's page, "El Compadre," the page belonging to the Spanish political movement "Soberanía y Libertad," and the Bolivian professional soccer league's page.
Azarnoush: I don't "like" any pages. My family lives in Iran and I want to be able to visit them every year. Since user profiles are often checked at the Teheran airport, I don't use social media to express my views.

Do you think being innovative is something people can learn?
Azarnoush: Yes, in many cases.
Carranza: Definitely. But you have to know your trade well.

Was there a moment when you realized that the journalism traineeship was helping you get ahead?
Carranza: Yes, in fact I think it does everyday. I'm very critical of people who call themselves "journalists" but have never had any professional training.
Azarnoush: I agree. If you want to become a journalist, a traineeship is the best thing you can do.

Complete the following sentences:
Without my cell phone…
Carranza: …I'm cut off from my friends and contacts.
Azarnoush: …I don't feel comfortable.

Innovative journalism is…
Azarnoush: …lifelong learning!
Carranza: … a new way of reporting.

Newspapers are…
Carranza: …the best way to get information.
Azarnoush: …still important but since Web 2.0 only have a limited reach.