Foreign National Service Employees with Dr. Lee Becker, Dr. Tudor Vlad and Professor David Hazinksi. Photo provided by: Stephanie Moreno.

Foreign Service National Employees Discuss Mass Communication Education And Public Relations In The United States

Twenty-four Foreign Service National Employees spent a day in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in early March in a program designed to expose them to information about journalism and mass communication education in the U.S. and about new trends in U.S. public relations.

Dr. Bryan Reber, Advertising/Public Relations assistant department head, told the group that the practice of public relations in the United States is changing.

“Public relations is a growing and increasingly complex profession that encompasses everything from effectively deploying ever‑evolving technology to building and maintaining trust among stakeholders,” Dr. Reber said.

The theme of change also was echoed in comments made to the group by Grady College Dean Charles Davis.

Dr. Davis told the group how the school has gone through dramatic curricular changes to respond to the new trends in the media industries.

The program at the University of Georgia was organized by the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research, a unit of the Grady College. The visit to the University of Georgia was part of a five-day program in the state of Georgia coordinated by the Georgia Center for International Visitors in Atlanta.

Foreign Service National employees (often referred to as Locally Engaged Staff, LES) are citizens of the countries in which the U.S. Department of State maintains diplomatic posts and consulates. They provide continuity for the transient American staff and possess local language and cultural expertise.

The entire program in Georgia was designed to allow LE staff to experience American life and culture in order to deepen their capacity to support the State Department in representing the United States in their home countries.

Most of the LE Staff participants have just begun their careers in the information/media affairs offices of the Public Affairs Section, and their visit to Georgia was designed to provide both skills‑based media training and an introduction to U.S. government, society and values.

The group was welcomed to the Grady College by Dr. Lee B. Becker, director of the Cox International Center.

He, too, talked with the guests about challenges in journalism and mass communication education in the United States. Dr. Becker said the economic crisis of 2008 negatively impacted traditional media, making them less able to hire for their newsrooms.

That situation made it more difficult for journalism and mass communication graduates to find work, Dr. Becker said. It also negatively impacted how the media cover their local communities.

Dr. Tudor Vlad, associate director of the Cox International Center, talked about the Center’s international programs, mentioning that each of these projects has been the result of collaboration between U.S. experts led by the Center and local experts.

Foreign National Service Employees in session with Dr. Bryan Reber.

“We see all our programs as exchange partnerships, where both sides equally learn and share their expertise,” Dr. Vlad said.

Following a tour of the journalism building, Professor David Hazinski, Jim Kennedy New Media Professor in the Journalism Department and former NBC international correspondent, showed the visitors the TV studio of Newsource, where Grady College students produce a daily news cast.

While in Atlanta,the Foreign Service National Employees visited the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, and the Boys and Girls Club of America, and met senior managers in the Office of Mayor Kasim Reed, Coca-Cola executives, and CNN International journalists.