Top MTSU student journalist calls Japan fellowship ‘amazing learning experience’

Staff Reports • Jun 8, 2017 at 10:16 PM

MURFREESBORO – Middle Tennessee State University award-winning student journalist and former Lebanon Democrat intern Sarah Grace Taylor made her way to Japan in recent weeks after she was chosen as one of nine winners of the Roy W. Howard National Collegiate Reporting Competition.

The Old Hickory native returned home May 20 from the eight-day journalism study tour to Japan, an expenses-paid trip that gave the students an opportunity to experience a different environment than they’re used to in the U.S.

“I learned more about the Japanese culture, their news media and the nature of reporting abroad than I could have even imagined,” said Taylor, who is former editor-in-chief of the student news magazine MTSU Sidelines and a senior in the school of journalism in the MTSU College of Media and Entertainment.

While in Japan, Taylor and the other winners toured the Tokyo office of Bloomberg, the international market and financial software and media company headquartered in New York, and the Mainichi Broadcasting Systems office in Osaka, Japan. She said the cultural adventure allowed her to identify the importance of both studying abroad and a free press.

“We saw the similarities and differences between local and regional Japanese media outlets and international media outlets with foreign journalists covering the area,” she said.

Her views on American journalism involve use of the term “watchdog,” and she mentioned that American journalism is more transparency oriented and aggressive.

“I will certainly be more open to cultural and foreign reporting as I go forward with my career, and I am very thankful to Scripps Howard for the opportunity,” she said.

The group of winners mixed business and pleasure some of the days they were in Osaka. They toured several historical landmarks, including the Golden Pavilion, the Ryoan-ji Temple and rock gardens in Kyoto. One of the “most significant” landmarks they visited, Taylor said, was the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and World War II atomic bomb site.

Hiroshima was the first city in world history to be devastated by the atomic bomb.

“Hiroshima was a very solemn experience, but touring the museum and talking with the native volunteers was an amazing learning experience in peace, forgiveness and the relationship between our two nations,” she said.

This marks the 12th year that the Scripps Howard Foundation has sent its National Collegiate Reporting Competition winners on the study tour.

Taylor worked two semesters as an intern with The Democrat, which included a summer internship where she and fellow students wrote community feature stories for both The Democrat and its sister paper, The Hartsville Vidette.

Taylor’s fellow winners included Jack Evans of Indiana University, Miela Fetaw of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Ala’a Ibrahim of The University of Texas at Austin, Stephanie Murray of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Nishant Mohan of the University of Idaho, Olivia Richard of Arizona State University, Emily Scott of Temple University and Sayra Trejo of Dominican University of California.

Joseph Coleman, the Roy W. Howard Professor of Practice at Indiana University’s Media School, led this year’s trip. He is the former Associated Press bureau chief in Tokyo and teaches a reporting class that takes students from Indiana University on trips similar to the student winners’ visit.

“These student journalists — among the best in the country — bring a powerful mix of talents and perspectives to our program,” Coleman said.

The competition, which is conducted in cooperation with Indiana University, was established in 1984 to honor the late journalist Howard, who led Scripps Howard Newspapers from 1922 to 1953 after his 1912-1920 career at United Press.

For more information about MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, visit mtsu.edu/media.


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