International journalists look at ethics, First Amendment

10/20/2008 - By: Zanny Marsh

Truth in campaign advertising during the presidential election season sparked the interest of a delegation of 19 African journalists and editors who visited with Reynolds School of Journalism faculty and students, Oct. 16. 

The school hosted the delegation as part of the Third Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists, Oct 10-25. The Murrow Program is a public-private partnership between the Department of State, the Aspen Institute, and leading U.S. schools of journalism. The program invites emerging leaders in the field of journalism from around the world to the United States to examine journalistic practices in the United States.

"The exchange of ideas, best practices and guiding ideologies with international journalists is stimulating and worthwhile," said Jerry Ceppos, dean of the Reynolds School. "To have this opportunity during an historic presidential campaign season is extraordinary. Our faculty and students asked as many questions of them as our guests did of us." 

Members of the delegation engaged faculty and students in discussion about the impending presidential election. 

"We had a fascinating discussion," said Donica Mensing, associate professor of journalism and director of graduate studies. "The idea that political speech — including political advertising — is guaranteed by the First Amendment is very different from the system in many of the countries the journalists were from."

New or electronic media held particular interest for members of the delegation. 

"We seek to understand how U.S. media balance modernity represented by new media and ethics practiced by traditional print and broadcast media," said Oshebeng Alpheus Koonyaditse, producer and presenter of current affairs news with a radio affiliate of the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation. 

"News organizations must be strong enough to withstand pressure from advertisers and special interest groups," Mensing said. 

"If you want media to be credible, just and fair then truth will come out on top. It is the only true protection that journalists have to defend their work and their profession," said Patrick Kamara Nyakahuma, news producer for NTV, Uganda's newest television broadcast network. 

During the journalism school visit, the delegation visited a media ethics class and observed the critique of student assignments in a photojournalism class. 

"It was fascinating for the visitors to learn what constitutes quality photojournalism in U.S. culture and media," said Jennifer Keller, English Language Officer for the US Department of State. "They were able to spend considerable time interacting with students about their career objectives." 

Following their orientation in Washington, D.C., the Murrow journalists will travel in groups for academic seminars and field activities with faculty and students at schools of journalism, including the University of Nevada, Reno Reynolds School, the University of Maryland, the University of Southern California (Annenberg), Syracuse University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Jackson State University, the University of Tennessee, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Minnesota, Texas Christian University, and Marquette University. 

The delegation's visit to the University was coordinated by the Northern Nevada International Center.

The Reynolds School of Journalism is Nevada's only accredited journalism school.


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