Dr. Lee Becker speaking with the 2016 Murrow Journalists.

Grady Hosts Foreign Journalists In The Murrow Program For The Eighth Consecutive Year

Sixteen journalists from Near East and North Africa, visiting the United States in October and November to learn about the role of the press and about U.S. media coverage of elections, spent a part of their program at the University of Georgia.

The program at the University of Georgia was organized by the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research and included visits to media outlets in Atlanta, discussions with students and faculty of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, and sessions with communication and political science experts and educators.

The journalists were in the state of Georgia as part of the Edward R. Murrow program for Journalists. The program in Georgia ran from Nov. 3 through Nov. 9.

At CNN, the group was welcomed on Nov. 4 by Richard Griffiths, vice president and senior editorial director, who gave the guests a tour of the newsrooms and then talked about coverage of elections and the new news strategy of the CNN news programs.

“In the past, our goal was to be faster than any other TV channel in breaking the news,” said Griffiths. “Now, with all the social media and alternative news sources, we want our viewers to come to us to get confirmation of the accuracy of the information they receive and for in-depth coverage.”

He also explained the flow of information at CNN and CNN International and the strategies used by the journalists to double check the information and to prevent errors in the news.

The group then visited The Atlanta Journal Constitution and had a conversation with senior managers about the newspaper’s policy regarding coverage of elections. The dialog focused on the differences between national and local coverage of elections and about balance and fairness in reporting about candidates. The main principle that was described was that the media should provide extensive and accurate information and should allow the readers to make their own judgments and decisions.

Later, the foreign journalists observed the weekend front page meeting at the Atlanta paper, where the main stories for the Saturday and Sunday editions were discussed and prioritized.

“The Grady college has gone through major changes in recent years,” Dr. Charles Davis, dean of the Grady College, told the visitors. “It has been a challenge for us to reflect – if not to anticipate – the changes in the broad field of communication, to make sure that our students are prepared for the new media landscape when they graduate.”

The journalists visited Oconee County and the city of Watkinsville on Nov. 5  and talked with Blake Giles, editor of the local weekly newspaper The Oconee Enterprise. They also had a conversation about local elections with Sarah Bell, Penny Mills and Marci Campbell. Bell and Mills have run unsuccessfully for office in Oconee County, and Campbell is on the Watkinsville City Council.

For the second year in a row, the Cox Center paired the visiting journalists with Grady College students specially selected to serve as hosts. Each of the 12 students had been assigned to one of the visitors and encouraged to learn in advance about the country and the media that the guests represented.

Dr. Lee B. Becker, director of the Cox Center, led a discussion between the journalists in the Murrow program and the Grady College student hosts in one of the early sessions of the program on Nov. 7.

Drs. Akinloye Ojo and Ibigbolade Simon Aderibigbe organized a session that day for the visitors at the African Studies Institute.

“Many people here perceive Africa as a homogenous and vaguely defined region,” said Dr. Ojo. “Here in our educational programs at the institute we try to teach and illustrate how different countries are, how rich are their cultures, and why people should learn more about this extraordinary continent.”

Dr. Charles Bullock, Richard B. Russell Chair in Political Science and Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor, gave a presentation on the U.S. presidential elections.

“People outside the United States sometimes don’t understand that here we have not one presidential election, but fifty,” he said. “There is a campaign in every state, though some of them have a long history of voting either Democrat or Republican, and usually only a limited number of them, the so-called battleground states, decide who the winner is.”

On the afternoon and evening of November 8, the guests were invited to the Grady television studio to see how the students were covering the election live under the coordination of Professors David Hazinski and Yvonne Cantrell Bickley.

The University of Georgia visitors were part of a larger group of 80 journalists participating in the Murrow program organized by the U.S. Department of State and seven select U.S. journalism programs. Grady College and the University of Georgia participated for the eighth consecutive year as Murrow hosts.

Prior to the visit to Georgia, the participants spent one week in Washington, D.C., where they met with Secretary of State John Kerry and visited media outlets. They visited Tampa and New York City after the program in Atlanta and Athens.

The visiting journalists were: Mr. Moncef Ait Kaci, Presenter, TV News in French, EchoroukNews Broadcast, Algeria; Mr. Malek Abdulla Mohamed Husain, Editor, Digital Media, AlWasat Newspaper, Bahrain; Mr. Mohamed Gaber El Badry Ahmed, Reporter, Al TahrirNewspaper, and Mrs. Rasha Mahmoud Mohamed AbdelWahab Abdelkhalek,Vice President, Foreign Desk, Al-Ahram Newspaper, Egypt; Ms. Aseel Abdulkareem Abed Al Rikabi, Anchorwoman and Correspondent, Afaq TV, Iraq; Mr. Musab Alshawabkeh,Investigative Journalism Unit Manager, Community Media Network (Radio Al‑Balad, Ammannet Website News), Jordan; Mr. Mohamad Allouch, Head, Reporters' Department, ElNashra.com, and Ms. Lea Mehanna, Reporter, Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International, Lebanon, Mr. Hussam Altier, Head, Documenting and Reporting Unit, Libyan Center for Press Freedom, Lybia;Mr. Ahmedou Mohamed Tleimidi, Director, Essahraa Center for Studies, Mauritania; Mr. Jad Aberdane, Journalist/TV News Host, 2M Television, and Ms. Mounia Saidi, Journalist, Nessma Women's Magazine, Morocco; Mr. Amjad Samhan, Editor in Chief, Shasha News, Palestinian Territories; Mr. Saud Alzahrani, Deputy, Local News Affairs, Almadinah Newspaper; Saudi Arabia; and  Mrs. Zina Mliki, Journalist and Reporter, National Tunisian Television, and Mrs. Zina Zidi Ep Mahfoudh, Journalist and Anchor, Radio Shems FM, Tunisia.

They were accompanied by Department of State program coordinators and Arabic language interpreters Ms. Dana El‑Issa, Mr. Waleed Jenani, Ms. Hala Salman, and Mr. Mustafa Sayid.

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.