Fulbright in Portugal

Steve Doig in Lisbon August-December 2010

Lisbon skyline

Busy final weeks

No thanks to a variety of recent concerns and distractions, I’ve been bad about updating this blog. Now I’m down to my final hours here, so I’ll use this post to catch up.

Since mid-November, along with my weekly class at Universidade Nova de Lisboa, I’ve had a great time lecturing about precision journalism (and dining) elsewhere around Lisbon and across Portugal:

  • At the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, I talked to an auditorium full of journalism and communication students. A week later, a dozen of those students came to a two-hour lab where I gave them a hand-on lesson in using Excel to analyze crime data from Portugal.
  • Then I gave a talk to a small group of faculty and students at the Lisbon campus of the Universidade Católica Portuguesa.
  • Next was my first out-of-town lecture, a talk to a room full of graduate journalism students the Instituto Politécnico de Portalegre up in the mountains about three hours northeast of Lisbon. Afterwards, Prof. Luis Bonixe took me to a great meal at a restaurant decorated with lots of old pictures of bullfights. “I hope you like meat,” he said. Luckily, I’m quite the carnivore — the appetizer was corazón de toro and it went on from there!
  • A couple of days later I took the train two hours north of Lisbon to do a talk to journalism students at the Universidade de Coimbra, one of Europe’s oldest universities. Afterwards, Prof. João Figueira and colleagues took me to a huge lunch at the Escola de Hotelaria e Turismo de Coimbra, one of a chain of 16 such schools across Portugal. The students prepared and served a fabulous meal.
  • My final big talk was in Porto, another train trip three hours to the north of Lisbon. The venue at the Universidade de Porto was the II Congresso Internacional de Ciberjornalismo focused on business models for online journalism, so I spoke about how data-driven investigative reporting can be attractive content for news sites. And once again, a marvelous meal followed when Prof. Helder Bastos took several of the speakers to a dinner of comida típica portuguesa. The next morning, I walked across the bridge to the south side of the Douro and did the tourist thing — an interesting tour of the Sandeman port wine cellars, followed by a tasting of two ports.

My last Fulbright appearance back in Lisbon was two nights ago, my final class with my wonderful Nova de Lisboa graduate students. I gave them an assignment to read various significant data journalism projects and write reports that can be shared with the class. We did a final Excel exercise, opening a New York Times list of what their critics call the “1,000 best movies” and turning it into a spreadsheet that can be sorted and summarized by year and decade. And then I finished by lecturing on “spycraft” methods for reporters to keep their confidential sources’ identities safe from prying eyes. Details on this and other exercises and lectures are here.

After class, the students invited me and Prof. Antonio Granado, my UNL colleague, to (yet another) fun dinner, held at a Chiado restaurant packed with students laughing, singing and clapping about the holiday break in classes. My ears are still ringing, but the pork, clams and potatoes dish was tasty, the conversations were good and the goodbyes were sad.

So now three duffel bags, a laundry sack, a carry-on and my laptop bag are all packed and waiting by the door. I’ll miss very much this fine apartment just below Castelo Sao Jorge overlooking downtown Lisbon, now decorated with Christmas lights. I’m happy to be heading home, but I know that Ellyn and I will be back in Lisbon one day soon. We have to — we left our hearts here.

One Response to “Busy final weeks”

  1. December 19th, 2010 at 4:49 am

    Phil Meyer says:

    What a great experience! Go well, Steve. You are doing the Lord’s work.

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