By Juan Luis García | 

More than ever, it is important to recognize professional journalism and how universities play a crucial role to prepare future generations.

As part of the Alfred Friendly fellowship, I have the opportunity to compare the method of the Missouri School of Journalism with my own learning experience in Guatemala and Mexico.

I studied and finished a degree where each theoretical lesson was very far from the actual practice on a daily basis.

Wrongly, in some Latin American universities the first contact with a real newsroom comes at the end of the career.

During my training in Columbia, my colleagues and I were encouraged by professors to do several practical reporting and writing exercises —a quick approach to improve our skills before the fellows departed to host newsrooms all over the nation.

In our first week, we went to visit the Columbia Missourian, a local newspaper staffed by journalism students. I was eager to exchange points of view with the reporters and I ended impressed with their commitment.  

After almost five  years of professional reporting, I find refreshing to go back to a classroom and update my skills and technology tools with this method.

Mexico is a place where the newsrooms are barely starting to be more open to data journalism, computer reporting and mobile reporting.

While other countries from Latin America used to win investigative journalism awards at La Conferencia Latinoamericana de Periodismo de Investigación (Colpin), Mexico didn’t start to appear until the 2014-2015 edition.

Slowly this USA neighbor is starting to walk toward better journalism techniques, and once back home I hope to be a seed of spread of all learned in the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

Juan Luis García is a Fellow sponsored by the Patrick and  Janna Stueve Foundation in Kansas City as part of the Alfred Friendly Press Partners program