North Central College - Naperville, IL

Junior heads to Uganda during spring break to research crisis journalism

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Contact: Nancy Dunker, associate director of public relations, 630-637-5306

March 16, 2010--North Central College offers its students a variety of service, cultural and academic experiences during its spring break in March. Ryan Piers, a junior from Washington, Ill., chose to travel Uganda, Africa, to conduct research for a project related to his major in broadcast communication and minor in journalism.

Piers sought out funding from North Central's Richter Independent Study Fellowship program to support his research expenses. His project, titled "Susan D. Moeller's ‘Compassion Fatigue' Preventing Journalism Methods and How They Were Applied When Reporting on the LRA," involves interviewing local and international journalists in Uganda, asking questions that test whether they used the proposed methods of "good crisis journalism" talked about in Susan D. Moeller's book "Compassion Fatigue." Her book is an analysis of how the media sold disease, famine, death and war during the last two decades of the 20th century.

Piers will be based in Kampala, Uganda's capital, from March 13 to 27, and staying in a house run by the local Catholic diocese. The journalists he plans to interview include those at The Daily Monitor and The New Vision newspapers, as well as radio broadcast journalists and others who worked on documentaries about the Lord's Resistance Army or LRA, a prominent rebel group in northern Uganda from 1986 to 2006. Piers also plans to study archives at the two newspapers, as well as at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda's largest and oldest university.

This trip isn't Piers' first visit to Africa. In July 2009, he traveled to Kenya as part of a North Central College service trip where he and several other students served at an orphanage and other centers connected with Koinonia Community.

On campus, Piers is a College Scholar, North Central's honors program for top students; a staff writer for the student newspaper The Chronicle; and an award-winning broadcaster with the College's student-run radio station WONC-FM 89.1. As a broadcaster, Piers has received a first-place award in state competition, been nominated for a national collegiate award and for state contests involving commercial stations.

North Central College is an independent, comprehensive college of the liberal arts and sciences that offers more than 55 undergraduate majors and graduate programming in six areas. Located in Naperville, Ill., and just 28 minutes from Chicago's Loop, North Central enrolls more than 2,798 undergraduate and graduate students. It is committed to academic excellence, a climate that emphasizes leadership, ethics, values and service, a curriculum that balances job-related knowledge with a liberal arts foundation and a caring environment with small classes. For more information about North Central College visit

Photo: Piers serving at an orphanage in Kenya, July 2009, as part of a North Central College service trip.