March 23, 2007

Journalism school to host east African delegation

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale's School of Journalism will host a group of east African journalists, professors and government officials later this month.

The two-week visit includes eight days at SIUC, where participants from Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia will participate in workshops and have the opportunity to meet with faculty and students. The group will be in Southern Illinois from March 28 to April 4 before traveling to Chicago and Washington, D.C.


Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to interview the east African journalists, professors and government officials during their stay at SIUC. For more information, or to arrange interviews, contact associate professor Jyotika Ramaprasad at 618/536-3361.


The interaction between foreign journalists and faculty and students, and the opportunity for the journalists to learn how journalism is practiced in the United States is important, said Jyotika Ramaprasad, an associate professor in School of Journalism, part of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts.

"This is a great opportunity for faculty and students to get to understand and appreciate a part of the world they don't hear much about from the media unless there is a problem," she said.

The nine-member delegation includes three journalists, three educators and one government official. The workshops "will focus on professional journalism skills and interface between journalists and government and non-government officials," Ramaprasad said. She also noted that greater press freedom in east African countries is a relatively recent development, occurring only in the last 10 to 15 years.

This visit also will provide the School of Journalism's Student Advertising Agency with an opportunity to work in a pilot HIV/AIDS campaign in Uganda that encourages the importance of voluntary HIV testing and will encourage couples to take the test together, Ramaprasad said.

In addition to interaction between journalists from different continents, the two-week workshop will help illustrate the importance of reporting on substantive issues countries face and work being done by non-governmental individuals — such as those focused on HIV/AIDS education and prevention, Ramaprasad said.

The group will attend special lectures on American journalistic techniques, the relationship between government and journalism, and on creating participatory social issues campaigns, Ramaprasad said.

After leaving Southern Illinois, the group goes to Chicago with the School of Journalism's Journalist-in-Residence, William Recktenwald, where they will meet with editors at various Chicago media, including the Chicago Tribune. From there, the group heads to Washington, D.C., with Ramaprasad and associate professor James D. Kelly, for presentations at the Washington Center for Politics & Journalism. They will also visit various media outlets, the Voice of America, and with Department of State officials, Ramaprasad said.

This is the third workshop funded by a $240,000 grant from the U.S. State Department's Office of Citizen Exchanges, which seeks to support the growth of democracy abroad. Two previous exchanges occurred last year — a different group of east African journalists visited SIUC and other sites in the U.S. last spring, and Ramaprasad led a group of SIUC journalism faculty and public broadcasting producers to Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya last summer.

By the end of the project approximately 150 journalists, 15 government officials, 40 journalism educators and 40 non-governmental officials will have participated in project activities, Ramaprasad said.