For almost 20 years, I worked in post-Soviet Central Asia as a teacher, trainer, researcher and consultant. My first trip, to set up a media training center in Osh, the main city in southern Kyrgyzstan, was in December 1995, just four years after the fall of the Soviet Union. I returned to Kyrgyzstan the following August as a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Journalism and Mass Communication, teaching at two universities and consulting with commercial radio and TV stations on news programming and management; the fellowship was extended for four months until the end of 1997. From 1998, I returned to Central Asia most years for training, consulting and research, including a 1999 research contract for USAID that involved travel in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
From 2002, most of my work was for the UNESCO regional office in Almaty—workshops for broadcasters on training techniques, for journalists on reporting on human development issues, for scientists on communicating climate change, and for university faculty on updating journalism and media curricula to incorporate topics and assignments from the Russian-language version of the UNESCO Model Curricula foe Journalism Education. In 2010, I was awarded my second Fulbright Fellowship in Kazakhstan, teaching both at my host institution, Eurasian National University in Astana, and at universities in Almaty, Karaganda, Kostanai and Semey. Some of my academic adventures are recounted in my 2016 book, Postcards from Stanland: Journeys in Central Asia.
The frequent trips to Central Asia gave me the opportunity to study the changing media scene, and to interview journalists, media managers, media activists, staff from NGOs and donor agencies supporting media development, and other stakeholders in a rapidly changing media landscape. My research presentations, publications and reports include:
“’The Government has Many Gears’—Direct and Indirect Pressures on Central Asian Media,” International Council for Central and East European Studies World Congress, Tampere, Finland, July 2000.
“Central Asia: Ethics—A Western Luxury” (with Elizabeth Schuster) in Ethics in Journalism: A Reader on Their Perception in the Third World, ed. Michael Kunczik. Bonn, Germany: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 1999.
“Still a Criminal Offense—Libel in Kyrgyzstan,” International Association for Media and Communication Research (Law Section), Leipzig, July 1999.
“Language Policy and Government Media Control in the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia,” Association of Third World Studies, Savannah, GA, October 2001.
Analysis of Central Asia media environment for IREX/Pro Media bid for USAID/Central Asia Region Media and Information Initiative, using IREX Media Sustainability Index criteria.
“Why Can’t They Work Together? Lack of Community Among Journalists in Central Asia,” Oral History Association, Durham, NC, October 2000
“Association-Building for Journalists in Central Asia,” a report (August 1999) for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Regional Office of Democratic Transition for Central Asia (Almaty).
"Media in Kyrgyzstan: Problems and Prospects for Development," a report (January 1998) for USAID (Almaty).