UNESCO Chair in Communication
(Knight Chair in Journalism)
Description and Mandate of the Chair
The UNESCO Chair in Communication at the University of Texas at Austin works in combination with the Knight Chair in Journalism and the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, created by the chair holder. This center provides high-level training, resources, news and information to journalists from around the world.
Professor Rosental Calmon Alves has hold the UNESCO Chair since 2003 and the Knight Chair since 1996.
Since 2002, the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin has led professional training and outreach for journalists in Latin America and the Caribbean, but eventually expanded into a global operation.
Between 2012 and 2022, the Knight Center’s online courses, including several produced in collaboration with UNESCO and other United Nations’ agencies, had 285,000 students from 200 countries and territories.
The chair holder has worked closely with UNESCO in several special projects, like a series of innovative online courses on “The International Legal Framework of Freedom of Expression, Protection of Journalists and Access to Information.” This ongoing project has reached more than 12000 judges, prosecutors and other judicial operators in Latin America and the Caribeean.
As soon as WHO announced that COVID-19 became a pandemic, in March 2020, the UNESCO Chair in Texas started working with UNESCO on the organization of massive open online course (MOOC) to help journalists around the world who suddenly had to cover a complex scientific issue. The online course was offered in May 2020 in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, in collaboration also with WHO and UNDP. Nearly 9,000 people from 162 countries participated in that MOOC, which become the first of a series of online courses, webinars and other initiatives the UNESCO Chair in Texas led in collaboration with UNESCO and other UN agencies..
Since 2003, the UNESCO Chair in Texas has helped independent journalists in the Western Hemisphere to create a new generation of associations and other organizations dedicated to elevate the standards of journalism in their countries. The Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji), the Brazilian Association of Digital Journalism (Ajor), the Argentine Journalism Forum (Fopea), The Paraguayan Journalists Forum (Fopep), the Newsroom Council of Colombia (CdR) are examples of organizations of journaists created with help from the UNESCO Chair in Texas.
The chair holder also leads a research group at the Knight Center that has been producing journal articles and and conference papers with focus on journalism and press freedom in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The emphasis of the joint program of the UNESCO Chair in Texas has been in areas such as:
- International journalism in a globalized world, including the flow of international news, the work of foreign correspondents, and the creation of a “global journalism” that seeks a planetary audience, etc.
- Journalism in Latin America, emphasizing the struggle for the establishment or consolidation of free press, the role of journalism in democratization processes, the quality of journalism, etc.
- The impact of Internet on society in general, but especially on journalism, emphasizing the emergence, all over the world, of a new genre of journalism that takes advantage of the capabilities of the World Wide Web.
Another highlight of the joint program UNESCO Chair/Knight Chair is the International Symposium on Online Journalism that Professor Alves has been organizing annually since 1999. The event attracts the participation of editors and scholars from around the world for a two-day conference in Austin, Texas. Besides the industry related sessions, the symposium has also a research component, including a call for papers. A blind-review panel composed of professors of several universities selects the best research papers for presentation during the symposium and publication on #ISOJ – The Official Journal of the International Symposium on Online Journalism. Professor Alves the co-editor of the journal that has been published annually, since 2011.
(UNESCO No. 2000US0673)