Dr. Alice Nemcova Tejkalova on Charles University's New Course to Train Mundusians in Cross-Platform Foreign Correspondence

This year is the first time that Mundusians can apply to study for their second year in Prague. We caught up with Dr. Alice Nemcova Tejkalova, the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences to find out about her new course which will train Mundusians to become cross-platform foreign correspondents.

Dr. Alice Nemcova Tejkalova is the first female Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University, she will be teaching second year Mundus students in Prague.

The deadline to apply for the next cohort of Mundus Journalism programme is approaching. For Mundus teaching staff like Dr. Alice Nemcova Tejkalova this means finalising her lesson plan for the ‘Foreign Correspondence’ course that she will be co-teaching to Mundusians specialising in Totalitarianism & Transition in Prague in 2021.

Previously a television sports journalist in Czech Republic, Dr. Alice Nemcova Tejkalova is the first female Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University and regional co-coordinator for Central and Eastern Europe for the Worlds of Journalism Study Project.

Here she talks about how she is connecting her almost two decades experience of broadcast journalism and journalism research to training Mundus Journalism students for the field of foreign correspondence and media analysis.

Mundus Journalism: What is the course on ‘Foreign Correspondence’ about? What skills will Mundusians learn in this course?

Alice Nemcova Tejkalova: It is a part theoretical and part practical course which will teach Mundusians practical reporting skills and prepare them to work in the field of foreign correspondence.

The idea for this course was developed when I was co-authoring a chapter for a book on foreign correspondence in Europe with my colleague Filip Làb. For this chapter, we interviewed several foreign correspondents in Czech Republic. During those interviews we realized how substantial and diverse this form of journalism employment is and we decided to offer a summer school where journalism and media studies students from all over the world could get a hands on experience of working as a foreign correspondent. For the summer school, we created simulations where participants could work like foreign correspondents and broadcast their reports on different platforms. We also arranged tours to media organizations in Prague where participants could meet with foreign correspondents and learn about their work. The summer school training was very successful and we received great feedback from participants. When we partnered with the Mundus Programme this year, we decided to offer a similar course to Mundusians.

In this course, which will be offered to Mundusians of 2020 cohort, students will simulate the work of foreign correspondents. They will learn to prepare broadcasts and news articles on their experiences in Prague as foreign correspondents for their home countries. We have an equipped journalism laboratory and broadcast studio where students will be able to use audio and video recording technologies, drones, iphones and ipads to prepare and broadcast their reports.

MJ: On the topic of becoming a partner in the Mundus Journalism Programme, what motivated Charles University to come on board?

Alice: At Charles University we believe that real things can be done in bigger teams and international projects. We believe in collaborative journalism and we feel that international projects like Mundus Journalism programme can broaden the perspective of all the people who are involved in the project. The big part of our decision was meeting with the team of Mundus Journalism. When we met them we were smitten by the programme. We share similar thoughts about how to do education for future journalists and we decided we wanted to collaborate. We are sure we will do great things together with the programme and the partner universities.

MJ: You have almost two decades experience of sports journalism and journalism research in Central and Eastern Europe. You are also the first female Dean of Social Sciences in the history of Charles University and the first generation of female television sports journalists in Czech Republic. How have these experiences defined your research? 

Alice: I can split my research work into two major lines: Working conditions and environment for journalists, and Sports Journalism. Both lines of research reflect my personal preference for Qualitative Research Methods and techniques of focus groups and qualitative analysis. 

On researching gender issues in the field of journalism, I am deeply connected to this topic because of my own experiences as the first woman Dean of Social Sciences at the Charles University and also as a female sports journalist. Throughout my life, I am used to breaking gender barriers in my work and this has influenced my research but that does not define my primary research focus. My primary research focus is on the topics that are not researched so often because it offers opportunity to create new knowledge.

With my colleague, I recently published a research which investigated the bias which exists among sports journalists about the performance of women athletes. This research combined gender issues to sports journalism and investigated a common prejudice which is connected to women's sports that women are psychologically fragile and unpredictable and anything can happen in their game. Our results however showed that as compared to male athletes, female athletes show less instability in their performance and more consistency in their peak levels. 

Another study which is close to my research interest is the report on conditions of journalists in the Czech Republic which I co-authored with multiple colleagues for the World of Journalism Studies project. My research is also influenced by my PhD dissertation in which I looked into how the newspaper coverage of Czech athletes with disabilities evolved from 1948 to 2008. A part of the study was situated in the background of communist government which was hostile to the people with a disability. My thesis supposed that newspapers coverage would reflect the social environment and there would be an improved coverage of athletes with a disability after the fall of the communist regime when people with disabilities started to become accepted in the society. On the contrary, results showed that the newspaper coverage of athletes with a disability has started to decrease in recent years, after some years of real qualitative change, as newspapers become influenced by their commercial logic.

MJ: How do you connect your research to teaching Mundusians? 

Alice:  I always apply the knowledge from my own research in my teaching practice. It is the same with the new course related to foreign correspondence. I will use my experience with the research I did with Filip Lab on foreign correspondents in the Czech Republic and research in sports journalism and conditions of journalists in Czech Republic to the course that I will teach.

MJ: Your message to Mundsusians who are applying to Prague this year?

Alice: Come to Charles University, come to one of the most beautiful cities in the world! We hope that you will enjoy our semi-practical, semi-theoretical curriculum and broaden your perspective of the world.

If you'd like to join the next cohort of Mundus students, applications are only open until January 10th, 2020 12:00 CET, so go and get your application in!