The 2015 Murrow Journalists and Student Hosts.

Thirteen African Journalists Visit Georgia As Murrow Journalists

Thirteen journalists from English speaking African countries visited the United States in October and November to examine the rights, responsibilities and standards of a free press in a democracy and to gain insight into the social, economic and political structures of the U.S.

The journalists were in the state of Georgia as part of the Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists from Oct. 29 through Nov. 4.

The program in Atlanta and Athens was organized by the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research, a unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

The program included discussions with students and faculty of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. This is the seventh consecutive year that the Cox International Center hosted the Murrow Program--the most prestigious program for journalists run by the U.S. Department of State.

On Friday, Oct. 30, the African journalists visited media outlets in Atlanta. At CNN, the group was welcomed by Richard Griffiths, vice president and senior editorial director, who gave the guests a tour of the newsrooms and then talked about changes in television in the era of new technologies.

“We have created new programs to reflect the changes in the mass communication landscape, but the social media also have impacted to role of CNN in the society,” said Griffiths. “News accuracy has always been crucial in our philosophy, but now it is even more important. Many people see something on the social media and then they come to us to learn IF and HOW that really happened.”

At the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Murrow guests had a working lunch with journalists for the daily and asked questions about media ethics in the United States.  Following that discussion, they observed a front page meeting. Top newsroom managers participated in the meeting.

“Obviously, print media have gone through a turmoil, and we haven’t always been able to anticipate the changes in the industry and their impact on the newsroom,” deputy managing editor Shawn McIntosh told the visitors. “According to our surveys, the average AJC reader is getting older than in the past, and it is a challenge for us to reverse this process.”

While in Atlanta, the African journalists toured the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

The Murrow Journalists and Student Hosts during their first dialogue session of the program.

“It is a privilege and an honor to have you as our guests,” Dr. Charles Davis, dean of the Grady College, told the African journalists when they arrived in Athens. “It is a learning experience for our students and faculty.”

Dean Davis told to group about the curricular changes that the Grady College has implemented to make the students better prepared for a new media landscape.

During their program in Athens, the Murrow visitors were accompanied by 16 Murrow student hosts, with whom the visitors discussed, in two sessions and in informal conversations, media systems and journalism education in their countries and in the United States. Some of the stories and pictures produced by the UGA students are to be hosted on the Department of State web site. The student hosts had been selected by the Cox International Center staff.

Drs. Akinloye Ojo, Karim Traore and Simon Aderibigbe organized a session for the Murrow visitors at the African Studies Institute. Dr. Ojo and his colleagues presented the activities and the programs of the institute.

Dr. Charles Bullock, Richard B. Russell Chair in Political Science and Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor, talked with the visitors about the local, congressional and presidential elections in the United States.

Grady Professors Gwen Nowak and Michael Cacciatore focused on the principles of health communication and the goals of health and medical journalism.

The African group had a meeting with Athens Mayor Ms. Nancy Denson and visited the alternative weekly Flagpole, media group Cox Radios, and the student daily The Red & Black. At each setting, the visitors discussed an important local issue, housing and development of Athens downtown.

On Nov. 3, the Murrow journalists observed the students’ daily newscast in the Grady newsroom, coordinated by Professors David Hazinski and Yvonne Cantrell Bickley, and participated in the critique following the newscast. The critique was broadcast live.

Between the sessions in Atlanta and those in Athens, the group participated in a discussion of the role of local government in Oconee County with Drs. Lee Becker, director of the Cox International Center, and Sarah Bell, an Oconee County activist, and watched the Halloween parade in downtown Athens.

During the closing session, Dr. Lee Becker told the guests how appreciative he was of the time they gave to the student hosts and of the value of their visit to the Cox Center and the Grady College.

“We are honored that you are here with us,” he said.

The visitors were part of a larger group of 80 journalists participating in the Murrow Program, organized by the U.S. Department of State, the Aspen Institute and seven selected U.S. journalism programs.

Map of Africa identifying each Murrow Journalist and the country they represent.

Prior to the visit to Georgia, the participants spent one week in Washington, D.C., where they had meetings at media outlets. They visited Tampa and New York City after the program in Atlanta and Athens.

The visiting journalists were: Mr. Joel Konopo, Botswana; Ms. Tsedale Gemmechu, Ethiopia; Mr. Seth Boateng, Ghana; Mrs. Judith Kaberia, Kenya; Ms. Mzondase Tsepane, Lesotho; Mr. Clarence Jackson, Liberia; Mr. Stephen Dakalira, Malawi; Ms. Gloria Ume Ezeoke, Nigeria; Ms. Zainab Joaque, Sierra Leone; Ms. Barbara Maregele, South Africa; Ms. Mandera Amoko, Republic of South Sudan; Ms. Gladys Chilufya Mwelwa, Zambia; and Ms. Veneranda Langa, Zimbabwe.

They were accompanied by Department of State contractors Mr. Bruce Cohen and Ms. Eileen Maloy.

For additional photographs taken during the Murrow Journalist's visit to the African Studies Institute at the University of Georgia, click here.

For additional photographs taken during the Murrow Journalist's program at the Grady College School of Journalism and Mass Communication of the University of Georgia, click here.