Curriculum & Schedule


To commemorate 25 years since the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the changes that swept through Central and Eastern Europe, TOL is launching a collaborative reporting project, based on TOL’s renowned course for aspiring foreign correspondents. This special course will begin with a five-day orientation and instruction in Prague, continue with a week-long reporting project out in the field in one of the countries of the region, and conclude with a week in Prague for additional lectures, story-writing, and feedback from peers and instructors. All participants will be encouraged to complete stories on multiple platforms (print, photo, video).

The reporting assignments will tackle the main issues facing the region through extensive profiles of individuals – from well-known people such as politicians and celebrities to normal citizens such as teachers and health care workers. Through telling their stories, we will illustrate the larger themes that have shaped the post-1989 transition. Participants will be assigned a country based on their top three choices, usually pairing up with another attendee.

Before the course begins, participants will establish contact with the lead instructor and start to frame their stories, choose their destinations, and identify the subjects of their profiles. Crucially, while working on the stories, participants will be collaborating with selected trainees coming from the Visegrad countries. Natives of the profiled countries, these reporters will help arrange interviews and provide translation and, on a case-by-case basis, may also share in the creation of the final product. Participants will thus come to Prague for the course with part of their research already completed and contacts in their target countries.

Once in Prague, attendees will spend the mornings in practical lectures delivered by leading foreign correspondents with the aim of providing a grounding in international reporting and sharing various tips of the trade so participants get the most of their time in the field. In the afternoons, attendees will continue preparing for their reporting assignments, both with the lead instructor and in a group setting, getting feedback from their peers.

After a week-long reporting project  and the completion of a first draft, participants will return to Prague for a group debriefing. They will attend additional lectures and work on completing their stories and accompanying multimedia pieces. The capstone of the project will be a group presentation of the stories, followed by detailed feedback from the instructors. The best stories, as judged by TOL editors, will be packaged as a series and rolled out on TOL throughout the spring 2015, and reaching a large international audience across the region. Participants will also be free to publish their stories in other outlets.

Among other things, participants will gain:

The project is based on a similar one from 10 years ago: a TOL partnership with the University of California-Berkeley on the occasion of the 15th anniversary. The resulting stories can be viewed here.


The main goals of the initial week are to:

Sunday, January 4

18:00 – 19:00: Arrivals and registration
19:00 – 21:30: Welcome dinner with fellow participants and faculty

Monday, January 5

9:30 – 12:30: Introduction to Foreign Reporting (Benjamin Cunningham)

14:00 – 17:00 Story Introductions (all coaching faculty) and research

Participants will present brief outlines of their stories for feedback from the group and coaches. The group will brainstorm about further angles to explore – to illustrate the reality on the ground as accurately as possible – and sources for multimedia content.

Tuesday, January 6

9:30 – 12:30: Life as a Foreign Correspondent (Raphael Minder, New York Times)

14:00 – 17:00: Multimedia Reporting (Nedim Dervisbegovic, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Wednesday, January 7

11:00: Tour of Hospodarske noviny and meeting with Foreign Editor Martin Ehl

We will tour the Czech Republic’s leading business daily and the most modern news complex in the country. Participants will also meet with Foreign Editor Martin Ehl to discuss their stories. One of the leading experts on the region, Martin writes a weekly column on Central Europe, published in Hospodarske noviny and on Transitions Online, as Middle Europa.

14:00 – 17:00: Reporting for Radio (Rob Cameron, BBC)

20:00: Evening concert

Thursday, January 8

9:30 – 12:30: Additional story research and individual consultations with Ben.

Thursday afternoon

Departures for target countries (Poland, Hungary, or some parts of the Czech Republic).

Friday January 9 – Thursday January 15

On-the-ground reporting begins, with interviewing and gathering of story-telling video, photo, and audio elements. Ben will be on-call to coach you through any challenges.

Friday January 16

9:00 – 12:00: Story debriefing
Participants will brief their group on their time in the target countries, and discuss story progress.

Saturday, January 17

All day: Story-writing time, multimedia content development.

Sunday, January 18

All day: Story-writing time, multimedia content development.

18:00: Story deadline

Monday, January 19

11:00 – 12:45: Visit to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Working Under Conflict (Nenad Pejic)

Free afternoon

20:00: Drinks in a local micro-brewery

Tuesday, January 20

9:30 – 17:00: In-depth review of stories/multimedia content (Ben, some coaches)

We will spend this day, first with participants/teams presenting their stories to the group, and then meeting for individual consultations with the coaches for final advice and evaluations.

20:00: Farewell dinner

Wednesday, January 21

9:30 – 12:30: Photojournalism (Jan Rybar, award-winning photojournalist)

Free afternoon

Thursday, January 22