Entrepreneur’s gift creates Canada's first International Reporting course

Vancouver venture philanthropist Alison Lawton has donated $1 million to the University of B.C. Graduate School of Journalism to launch Canada’s first International Reporting course that sends students abroad to cover important, under-reported issues.

The gift will enable 10 students each year to travel and produce international journalism for major media outlets focusing on broadcast and online content. Emmy Award-winning 60 Minutes producer Peter W. Klein, who joined UBC as an associate professor in 2007, will lead the course.

"We need in-depth journalism more than ever and this course offers students an opportunity to work with some of the best journalism faculty in North America," said Mary Lynn Young, director and associate professor of the UBC Graduate School of Journalism.

In a pilot of the course, students produced a documentary that PBS Frontline will broadcast this summer.

Lawton, who runs Mindset Social Innovation Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to investing in social development and building awareness around important and under-covered global issues, says she believes in-depth documentaries can change the world and facilitate democracy.

"This new course is a vehicle to inspire people to think, feel and act differently towards some of the most pressing issues of our time," said Lawton.

The gift is one of the first independent, non-profit-sponsored news content creation models in Canada, similar to new sources launching in the United States. The course will promote news stories for broadcast and for the web.

"This course will challenge students to look beyond the constraints of conventional mainstream media and examine the definition of conscientious reporting," said Lawton.



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