Dr Vlad welcoming and opening discussions with the visiting Iraqi journalists and accompanying interpreters.

Iraqi Journalists Discuss Media Responsibilities and Challenges during Visit

Seven journalists from Iraq discussed with Grady College faculty the perspectives of media systems in consolidated and emerging democracies and the future of journalism during their visit at the University of Georgia in May.

"We don’t have clear assessments of the role of media in the process of democratization,” Dr. Tudor Vlad, associate director of the Cox international Center, told the visitors after welcoming them to the Grady College, “but I have no doubt that Iraq as a democracy cannot exist without your courageous work.”

“Working as a journalist in Iraq is very dangerous, especially if you write a story that challenges a government official,” said Rimon Albeer Misattr. “In theory, the officials know and accept that they should be under legitimate media scrutiny, but they don’t like that and sometimes use extreme ways to prevent or stop it.”

“I've done training in your region and I know some of the challenges you are facing," David Hazinski, professor of digital and broadcast journalism in the Grady College, told the group. "Challenges that you have, such as funding issues, the government's attempt to influence media, the shortage of people who know how to do the job, can be seen in so many places around the world."

In addition to meeting with Hazinski, the visiting journalists also had sessions with Associate Dean for Graduate Studies Dr. Jeff Springston, Dr. Jay Hamilton from the Advertising and Public Relations Department of the Grady College, and Professor Michael Castangera, also a specialist in digital and broadcast journalism.

Dr. Springston told the visitors that the job market for graduates of programs such as that of the Grady College have encountered a “tough job market” when they leave the university.

“The most successful graduates in recent years have been those with a public relations specialization,” Dr. Springston said. “Part of the approach in our PR specialization is that we train those students for a broad range of jobs in the field of communication.”

Dr. Hamilton told the Iraqi visitors that journalism in what he termed “The Anglo-American media tradition” allows both for the journalist to be an observer “and a participant in the life of the society.”

Professor Castangera gave the Iraqi group a tour of the WUGA TV and a presentation of the television markets in the United States. “There are markets with an audience of several hundred thousand and there are markets with millions of viewers,” he said. “The common feature is the competition for ratings.”

The visit by the journalists was a component of the International Visitor Leadership Program, a professional exchange initiative of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The visitors were participating in a program called “Civil Society and the Role of Media in the U.S.: A Project for Iraq.”

The program in Georgia was organized by the Georgia Center for International Visitors, and the University of Georgia visit was coordinated by the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research.

The Cox International Center is a unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Iraqi journalists in session with Professor David Hazinski.

The visitors were: Mr. Karkhi Abdulkareem Mohamed, secretary general, Iraqi Center for Media and Journalists Without Borders, Mr. Ali Lafta Khalaf Al Baghlani, correspondent, Al-Arabiya TV, Mr. Adil Ezzulddin Mohammed Al Rawe, director, Radio Fallujah, Mr. Aiman Mahfoodh Hamed Alasad, correspondent, Al-Hurrah TV, Mr. Imad Mohammed Salih Abdulhussein Al-Assad, political news manager, Al-Diyar TV, Mr. Roodi Anwer Dawood, reporter, Iraqi Media Net (IMN) TV, and Mr. Rimon Albeer Misattr, journalist and webmaster, Ishtar Media Company. They were accompanied by Mr. Wael Abdelsattar and Mr. Nabil Tohme, interpreters.

Before visiting Athens and Atlanta, the delegation spent time in Washington, D.C. After their program in Georgia, the group was to stop in Denver, Minneapolis, and New York City before returning home to Iraq.

“We are glad and honored that you are here,” Dr. Vlad told the delegation. He added that he was sorry the visitors did not get to meet with students, who are mostly away for the summer.

“They could have learned a lot from you,” Dr. Vlad said.