Carleton University’s Michael Petrou, a historian, journalist and instructor with the Department of History, has been selected for the prestigious Martin Wise Goodman Canadian Neiman Fellowship at Harvard University. Petrou will start his fellowship in September.
The Neiman Fellowship selects one Canadian journalist a year to spend two semesters at Harvard University studying an area of their choosing, attending conferences and taking part in academic and professional development opportunities.
“It’s a dream sabbatical,” said Petrou. “While I teach history at Carleton, I suspect I will become a student of history again. It’s a special opportunity.’’
Michael Petrou’s International Reportage
Petrou has reported from across the globe for Canadian and international media outlets.
As part of the fellowship, he will be studying “the media environment in contested political spaces of eastern Europe and elsewhere.”
His interest in this area was partly informed by his experience reporting from the Ukraine during protests against former president Viktor Yanukovych. At the time, the country was home to rivalling Russian and Western media influences.
Petrou recounted how he had heard the same far-fetched, anti-protest story from numerous Ukrainian citizens – a story he later discovered had originated from Russian-language media.
With the Neiman Fellowship, he looks forward to furthering his research on media in fragile democracies and the democratization of media by new technologies.
Last December, Petrou was awarded the 2017 R. James Travers Foreign Corresponding Fellowship to report on the Syrian refugee crisis in Middle Eastern countries. Petrou recently returned from a month-long trip to Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, where he visited refugee camps.
He sees intersections between the two fellowships.
Building and Sustaining Media Outside of Syria
“The diaspora are trying to build and sustain their own media outside of Syria – to tell their own stories and report on what’s happening.”
The fellowship at Harvard will provide new opportunities for both his journalistic craft and academic endeavours.
“It will make me a better journalist and a better academic as well – to think, be challenged and learn from other top scholars will give me skills and experience that will help me guide and challenge my own students,” he said.
Petrou has written several books, including Renegades: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War (2008) and Is This Your First War? Travels through the Post-9/11 Islamic World (2012), which won the Ottawa Book Award for non-fiction.