Jackie Bischof, a Wits Journalism Alumni, was awarded the Henry N. Taylor award for best international student at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism in New York.
Jackie Bischof (left) with a friend, Malia Politzer, on graduation day.
Graduating from Wits University in 2007, Bischof completed her BA Honours in journalism with distinction. Bischof was then awarded the Pulitzer Africa Fund scholarship from Columbia University, where she has now completed her masters in journalism.
Living in a house for international students at Columbia, Bischof said studying in a different country has helped broaden her mind and that her experiences have enabled her to become more ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œflexibleÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â. Also, she had to collaborate with people on stories and has found that this was sometimes much better than working alone.
Bischof said she experienced some ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œlanguage issuesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â at first, which she found surprising, since ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œfrom watching American TV I thought I knew everything,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said the graduate, who added that she also struggled with punctuation.
Having now worked in an environment where everything is online, Bischof believes that print journalism in South Africa will have a longer lifespan compared to that in the States. Still, she said South African journalism seems to be missing ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œsome elements of multimediaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â and that local journalists can learn from the States regarding the use of multimedia in online journalism.
As a way of staying connected with family and friends, Jackie has her own blog http://jaxbischof.wordpress.com/, where she blogs about her experiences in the States, from using public transport to working as a reporter during the elections.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â A favourite blog topic is how Johannesburg and New York differ and their similarities: ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThey are similar in that they are both meeting points of a lot of diversity. People coming to look for something better,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said Bischof. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œJoburg is a lot tougher,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â she added.
The Henry N. Taylor award http://deanstudents.blogsome.com/2009/04/23/memo-year-end-awards-how-to-submit-your-stories/ was established in 1962 in honour of journalist Henry Taylor who was killed on assignment in the Congo at the age of 31. The award is given at the end of each school year to one of the international students (this year it was shared between Bischof and Mexican) who has demonstrated the qualities of a superior journalist. The award includes a grant providing for travel in the United States before returning to her homeland.
Bischof is currently interning at BBC New York.