About The Istanbul Project

Interviewing-By Erin Browner

Street demonstrations erupted in Turkey just as we were departing for the 2013 Istanbul Project, a one-month summer journalism laboratory that takes university students and young professionals to Istanbul, where they practice working as foreign correspondents.

The project is led by the Institute for Education in International Media, and co-sponsored by San Francisco State University, Bahçeşehir University and Big World Multimedia, LLC.

The smell of tear gas, and the sight of police chasing down demonstrators with water cannons, was heady stuff for journalism students typically on their first international reporting assignments.

Gezi Protests-Mary D'AmbrosioTens of thousands of Turks marched through the streets, protesting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s autocratic style. The ex-mayor’s approach to urban development, which often included leveling poor neighborhoods, and awarding lucrative rebuilding contracts to firms linked to relatives and associates, rankled in particular.

Istanbul Project students, some of whom had covered Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in the United States, discovered that governments in other countries could be far less tolerant of public dissent. They learned of doctors, lawyers and journalists being arrested, threatened and jailed, for daring to treat, represent or write about the demonstrators. And they were astonished to see peaceful protestors being attacked, in incidents that led to the deaths of five people nationally, and more than 7,000 injuries.

We reported in eight neighborhoods where key issues were playing out. Sasha Ward (University of Virginia) and Taylor Gilman (San Francisco State University) explored Erdogan’s boyhood neighborhood, to look into how it may have shaped his leadership style.  Jacqueline Di Bartolomeo and Breanne Brezinski (both of Mount Royal University) reported on new alliances between two disparate groups of protestors: a famous soccer fan club, and Istanbul’s gay and transgender community. Zihao Yang (University of Southern California) investigated the effects of a controversial new bridge being built over the Bosphorus. And Ayesha Rizvi and Jennifer Butler (both of San Francisco State University) explored the psychic struggle between secular and religious life.

Students worked in teams, writing stories, and shooting photographs and video, under the direction of award-winning journalism and multimedia faculty.

We hope you enjoy their work.

Graduate students, meanwhile, interned as junior foreign correspondents for professional publications, such as Women’s eNews, Worldpress, the United Nations-based MediaGlobal, Time Out Istanbul, and the Inter Press News Service. See some of their publications here.

Istanbul Project 2014
June 19 – July 17

In the summer of 2014, Istanbul Project university students and young professionals will again travel to Istanbul, to practice working as foreign correspondents.

Jennie Butler-By Venise Wagner

They’ll study Turkish language and culture, multimedia journalism, and international reporting.

They’ll then go out on assignment with their interpreters, to write and shoot for this web magazine, or for their assigned publications.

If you are a university student or graduate interested in international reporting, we hope you’ll join us!


Prof. Mary D’Ambrosio, director
The Istanbul Project