Ms. Maysoon Mohamed Osman, from the Sudan, takes notes during a session in the Drewery Room.

14 African Journalists Spend Day In Cox Center Program

Fourteen journalists from 13 African countries visited the University of Georgia in April in a one-day program coordinated by the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research and covering topics ranging from press freedom to the experiences of African students studying in the United States.

The African journalists were participants in the U.S. State Department's Edward R. Murrow Journalism Initiative, designed to engage young media professionals in a specialized International Visitor Leadership Program with their U.S. counterparts.

The African journalists are given the opportunity to explore the practice of journalism in the United States.

The guests were welcomed to the University of Georgia by Dr. Lee B. Becker, director of the Cox Center, and by Cox Center assistant director Dr. Tudor Vlad. The Cox Center is a unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

Dr. Horace Newcomb, director of the Peabody Awards Program, also a part of the Grady College, told the African visitors about the operation of the Awards program and its value to broadcast journalists.

“The Peabody Awards are open for everybody,” he said. “There are no category limitations and no topical or geographical boundaries.”
A member of the group asked about the criteria to win a Peabody Award. Dr. Newcomb answered: “Only one criterion: excellence. But each piece can come with a different type of excellence: impact on a community, artistic quality, innovation...”

Cox Center Assistant Director Dr. Tudor Vlad distributes materials about the Grady College to participants.

“Any discussion about freedom of the press in the United States has to start with the First Amendment,” Dr. Kent Middleton told the visitors. Dr. Middleton is the head of the Journalism Department of the Grady College and the co-author of the book The Law of Public Communication. His lecture focused on how the U.S. legal system protects the media and what challenges the journalists face while reporting.

Seven members of the University of Georgia African Student Association answered questions asked by the African journalists in a meeting that focused on the stereotypes and prejudices that are frequently associated with the African continent.

The students were asked by the journalists about how they gathered accurate information about African realities and how they made the information available to others in the campus. The journalists volunteered to help the students get current information in the hopes they would distribute it to others on campus.

The guests toured the Grady College. They met with Professor David Hazinski, who gave a practical demonstration of the use of new technology in the TV production studio and told them how broadcast journalism is taught in the Grady College.

Dr. Lee Becker, director of the Cox Center, described to the guests the structure of the Grady College in the broader context of journalism and mass communication education in the United States.

Telecommunications Professor David Hazinski discusses the student television news program, NewsSource15, on the set.

The 14 journalists visited the African Studies Institute and had a meeting with 35 faculty and students interested in African media and politics. Professor Lioba Moshi, director of the institute, outlined the curriculum and several of the initiatives of the unit. These include study abroad programs in Ghana and Tanzania and a group project in Tanzania.

The journalists answered many questions from the audience regarding freedom of the press, political systems and journalism education in Africa. They emphasized the diversity of the continent and the misrepresentation of Africa as an undifferentiated entity.

Dr. Gary Bertsch, director of the Center for International Trade and Security, presented to the African visitors the activity of his center in the area of international trade, weapon control and non-proliferation.

“As journalists, you have a crucial role in making the public aware of these issues,” Dr. Bertsch said. “Illegal transports of weapons cross borders every day, and people die as a result of that.”

The African group’s final visit of the day was at The Red & Black, the University of Georgia student daily. “The Red & Black is completely independent,” Harry Montevideo, publisher of the newspaper, told the guests. “We make the money by selling advertising, and the newspaper is distributed for free around the campus.”

Prior to the visit to the University of Georgia, the African journalists visited media organizations in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Atlanta and spent a week in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California.

In Georgia, the program of the African group was coordinated by the Georgia Council for International Visitors.

Dr. Becker told the group he was “honored” they spent a day at Grady and looked forward to future contact.