Following the news that Swansea University MA International Journalism graduate and Uzbek journalist Olesya Romashko was presented with a special award as part of the celebrating events to mark the 30th Anniversary of the Independence of Uzbekistan this August, our own Dr Yan Wu caught up with Olesya…
YW: Olesya, many congratulations for your prestigious award! We are all very excited and proud of you! Tell us more about this award.
OR: Thank you very much. To mark the 30th Anniversary of the Independence of Uzbekistan, people who have contributed to their respective profession were celebrated. I was awarded for my contribution to the development of journalism in Uzbekistan. As a journalist with over 15-year work experience, I dedicated 13 years to radio journalism. I’m the producer for over 30 programmes ranging from entertainment shows to social issues. One of my achievements is the creation of the first live radio programme dedicated to business development in my country. It is named Business Environment in which we covered issues such as how to establish a business, tackle bureaucracy, and deal with tax racketeering, etc.
YW: You recently completed MA in International Journalism with Swansea University. Would you like to tell us about your study experience in Swansea?
OR: First of all, I’d like to thank Swansea University, especially our Media and Communication Department for the knowledge and support offered. When I came to Swansea in 2019, I didn’t expect that I’d find myself in the midst of a pandemic far from home! Our lecturers did all they can to support everyone, showing professionalism as well as humanities, responsiveness, and willingness to listen to each student. I collected many stories of my classmates who told me how hard it was to continue studying and how supportive Swansea lecturers were. Moreover, if you visit my social media pages, you will find how much I love Swansea. This city is full of happiness and miracles for me. I found trustworthy friends here and peace for my soul. I miss those parks, beaches, and the sea!
YW: Despite the bumpy journey of going through your degree in the COVID-19 pandemic, did you find the Swansea experience help you with your current employment?
OR: My study experience at Swansea University broadened my horizon and deepened my understanding of international journalism. As a practical journalist, I was always interested in case studies of journalistic work experience in other countries. You invited guest speakers who are veteran journalists to share with us their experience in solving real-life problems such as the ethical dilemmas in practicing journalism. Dr Sian Rees offered us real-life PR cases for analysis and her teaching has always tailored to the audience, involving every student. All the knowledge my lecturers gave me boosted my knowledge and confidence in doing my current work. Also, I’m still benefiting from the reading lists recommended by my lecturers – I’m still reading now at my work.
YW: How has your journalistic practice been affected by COVID-19?
OR: The Covid situation and people’s attitude towards it are different from country to country. In Uzbekistan, we continue to work and live our life as we did before the pandemic. However, there are changes. For example, instead of conducting a live face-to-face interview, I do a live phone interview instead sometimes.
YW: What opportunities and challenges journalists face in today’s world?
OR: The fast flow of information. With the development of digital technologies, people’s access to information becomes much easier. At the same time, it complicates the process of separating wheat (information) from the chaff (misinformation). As journalists, we need to challenge our own biases first. Journalists often forget that our role is to demonstrate truthful information, to present a diverse range of views and do not impose our own judgements. You may discover that journalists today often take sides in reporting and try to direct reporting towards the “right” direction. But if this “right” direction is based on their own subjective viewpoints, journalism as a profession for truth-seeking is dead. We have to promote subjectivity, fairness, accuracy, thoroughness, verification, transparency and accountability.
YW: Finally, what would be your key message to the current cohort of Journalism students at Swansea University?
OR: Folks, you need to remember: Journalism is the most exciting and wonderful profession in the world. We learn every day from practicing journalism. Thanks to our profession we are open-minded. Every interview brings us to a new world of knowledge. On the other hand, with all desires to become the first, the best, the most famous journalist, we need to remember that words can kill. When you face a difficult ethical situation, I wish you to remember that we are journalists and our words carry weight and responsibilities. Be honest with you and with other people. Good luck!