UGA decides to host some African journalists

October 28, 2014

The University of Georgia, which canceled on a Liberian journalist earlier this month for fear of spreading the Ebola virus, will host 14 journalists from Africa, the university announced Tuesday.

The journalists, who will visit the university as part of a three-week trip that will include a visit to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, are not from countries currently affected by the Ebola virus, according to an announcement from the university. During their visit, they will will discuss “media election coverage and the role of social media in the U.S. society.”

During the program, the journalists will attend a social media discussion and tour Grady Newsource — a student newsroom — while the staff covers Election Day, according the announcement. They will also take part in a conversation on social media hosted by several of the university’s professors.

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The journalists are visiting as part of the Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists, a U.S. State Department-sponsored program separate from the one it abruptly rearranged earlier this month due to Ebola panic. In that instance, UGA canceled on FrontPageAfrica Editor Wade C. L. Williams, who was scheduled to give the university’s McGill lecture.

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In addition to Georgia, two other universities bailed on journalists who spent time in Africa since the Ebola epidemic began. Syracuse University rescinded an invitation to Washington Post photojournalist Michel du Cille, who was slated to participate in a journalism workshop there. And the University of South Florida at St. Petersburg canceled on a group of Murrow fellows from Africa, which the Poynter Institute later agreed to host.

Here’s the announcement from the university:

Athens, Ga. – For the sixth consecutive year, the University of Georgia James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research has been selected to host traveling journalists through the Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists. The visit, sponsored by the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, will take place Oct. 30-Nov. 5.

Fourteen journalists from French-speaking countries including Burundi, Chad, Comoros, Mali, Mauritania and Togo will come to the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication to discuss media election coverage and the role of social media in the U.S. society. None of the visiting journalists hail from countries currently affected by the Ebola outbreak.

“Across the years of this program, University of Georgia students have learned a lot about the media and political systems in a variety of countries,” said Tudor Vlad, associate director of the Cox International Center. Fellows in the past have come from Russian-speaking countries, Chinese-speaking countries, and the Middle East and North Africa. This is the second time the Murrow Program Fellows visiting UGA are from French-speaking Africa.

“We welcome the delegation from French-speaking Africa and are honored to be selected as one of only seven programs to host journalists as part of the prestigious Murrow Program,” said Lee B. Becker, director of the Cox International Center.

The Murrow Program sponsors more than 80 journalists from around the world to participate in the three-week visit. The program is designed as an exchange of best practices, an overview of free press in a democracy and the opportunity for the Murrow Fellows to gain insight into the social economic and political structures of the U.S.

While they are on UGA’s campus Nov. 3-4, the Murrow Fellows will meet with Grady College Dean Charles Davis and participate in discussions about social media led by Karen Russell, Jim Kennedy New Media Professor and associate professor of public relations, and Itai Himelboim, associate professor of telecommunications. They will observe the college’s digital and broadcast journalism majors in the newsroom of Grady Newsource as the students cover Election Day—a session coordinated by David Hazinkski, Jim Kennedy New Media Professor and associate professor of telecommunications, and lecturer Dodie Cantrell-Bickley. The visiting journalists will also discuss U.S. elections with Charles Bullock, Richard B. Russell Chair in Political Science at UGA’s School of Public and International Affairs, and attend a session at UGA’s African Studies Institute.

“This is a unique opportunity for our students, for our faculty, for faculty elsewhere in the university, and for media professionals in the state to get to talk to such a diverse group of visitors about the challenges of journalism in the countries represented,” Becker said. “The Department of State calls the Murrow Program its most important international journalism program, and we agree that it is a tremendous value to all involved.”

The traveling journalists will be visiting the U.S. for three weeks. For the first week, the group will be in Washington, D.C. On Oct. 30, the Murrow Fellows visiting Grady College will arrive in Atlanta and spend the next day meeting with editors from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and CNN. After visiting Atlanta and Athens, they will travel to New Mexico and ultimately conclude their trip in New York on Nov. 14.

For a complete list of host schools and more information about the Murrow Fellows Program, see http://eca.state.gov/highlight/edward-r-murrow-program-journalists.