Leaving the journalism building at the end of the program are (left to right) Alesqer Mammaldi, Nushiravan Mararramov, translator Olcay Rached, Zeynal Mammadov and Arif Aliyev. Dr. Tudor Vlad is partially visible behind Alesqer Mammaldi.

Journalists and Media Experts from Azerbaijan Discuss Public Broadcasting, Legal Issues

Jennifer Sudduth, a native Georgian and a graduate of the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, has joined the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research as program coordinator.

Ms. Sudduth has assumed responsibility for the financial management of the Center, including accounting for both domestic and international projects. The Center is a unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

Ms. Sudduth joins Kornelia Probst-Mackowiak as a Center program coordinator.

Ms. Sudduth said the Cox Center, because of its international focus, "seemed like it would be an interesting work environment. Due to the number of various projects sponsored by the Cox Center, each day is different.”

She hopes to “manage grants and other funding so that the Center can maximize the effectiveness of its projects throughout the world.”

Originally from Savannah, GA, Ms. Sudduth graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in international business and a minor in French.

After returning to Savannah upon graduation, she worked as a high school French teacher, relying on her undergraduate and graduate study in Tours and Aix en-Provence, in the south of France.

She also worked in Savannah as a loan advisor for Bank of America.

“We are extremely pleased that Jennifer has joined the Center,” said Center Director Dr. Lee B. Becker. “She has experience living abroad, an interest in international affairs, solid language skills, and expertise in financial matters. This is a perfect combination for us.” “Every few years, PBS will run something that upsets some faction in Congress, and then there will be talk of cutting federal funding for Public Television,” Dr. Ann Hollifield, an expert in broadcast management, told four journalists and media experts from Azerbaijan visiting the University of Georgia in September.

“Even though the federal and state governments provide a relatively small percentage of the total revenue that goes to PBS,” Dr. Hollifield said, “even that small amount makes them a target for political criticism.”

Public Broadcasting is susceptible to political pressure, almost regardless of the setting, Dr. Hollifield warned the visitors. In the United States, most of the funding for public broadcasting comes from listeners and viewers and from corporate sponsors.

Dr. Hollifield, who has conducted research on media management in emerging democracies in East and Central Europe, pointed out the Western European model for funding public service broadcasting provides protection for the public service networks from direct political pressure by giving them a guaranteed source of public revenue that it is much harder for political bodies to cut.

The Azeris–two journalists, a journalism professor, and a media legal expert–were visiting the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia as part of a program sponsored by the United States Department of State's International Visitor Program.

The one-day program for the four Azeri experts was organized by the James M. Cox, Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research, a unit of the Grady College. It included not only the discussion of public service broadcasting, but also media law and journalism education in the United States.

One of the goals of the program was to help the visitors understand how public broadcasting operates in the United States.

Dr. Hollifield is an expert on media management who directs the Michael J. Faherty Broadcast Management Laboratory in the College.

During his presentation to the group, Dr. Middleton discussed the difficulties of drafting laws with sufficient precision to effectively limit officials from arbitrarily withholding information. Dr. Middleton, a media law professor, said he was pleased to learn that Azeri journalists are promoting adoption of a strong open records law in their country’s legislature.

“Citizens in most countries have difficulties in gaining access to government information,” Dr. Middleton said. “As the war on terrorism continues, American government agencies--state and federal--are closing files and web sites in the name of national security.”

The Azeri participants were: Arif Aslan Oglu Alyiev, Chairman of “Yeni Nasil” Journalists’ Union; Mr. Nushiravan Umud Oglu Maharramov, Chairman of the Azerbaijan National Television and Radio Council; Mr. Zeynal Askar Oglu Mammadov, Media Professor at Baku State University; and Mr. Alesqer Mammadli, Lawyer working for Media Rights Institute, Internews, Azerbaijan. They were accompanied by interpreters Ismail Djalilov and Olcay Rached.

“All the meetings where we learn about open records and media laws are very useful to us,” said Alesquer Mammadli, who is involved in drafting and regulating laws on public broadcast television and radio. “It helps us better understand what we need to do and what challenges we are going to face.”

Dr. Lee B. Becker, Cox Center director, and Dr. Tudor Vlad, Cox Center assistant director, gave the Azeri visitors an overview of journalism education in the United States, emphasizing different approaches on broadcast education. Dr. Becker also showed the visitors an online course on public opinion research created by the Cox Center for distance training programs.

Dr. Vlad described training programs conducted by the Cox Center in emerging democracies and explained that all of them are designed as partnerships with local organizations.

“I’m sure we will identify opportunities to work together with the Cox Center in the future,” said Arif Aliyev, chairperson of the independent “Yeni Nasil” Union. “Topics such as programming development and broadcast management are top priorities for media in our country.”

The Azeri participants received a tour of the Grady College from Diane Murray, the public service outreach director of the College. In the broadcast studio, they met with Professor David Hazinski, who gave a practical demonstration of the use of new technology in the TV production studio.

At the end of the session, the group toured The Red & Black, the University of Georgia's student-run newspaper. They were accompanied by publisher Harry Montevideo.

Their program also included stops in Washington, DC, Portland, OR, Little Rock, AK, Atlanta, GA, and Syracuse, NY. The Georgia portion of their trip was coordinated by the Georgia Council for International Visitors.

Over the summer, Ms. Sudduth moved to Athens and started working at the Cox Center in late August.

At the Center, Ms. Sudduth will focus on all financial tasks associated with the Center, handling everything from paying bills to creating budgets for projects in numerous foreign countries.

She also hopes to resume tutoring French and finish a graduate degree in French education.