The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) announced on Oct. 22 the latest class of seven Knight International Journalism Fellows. In keeping with the program’s commitment to selecting the best international journalists, the group includes the first Egyptian, Indonesian and African Fellows, as well as Fellows from Britain and the United States. They will address key societal issues through hands-on media projects in eight countries.
The Fellows will spend a year working with local-partner organizations to transform media in their host countries and their regions. In India, a Knight Fellow will partner with the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the environmental group that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore.
As a result of new Fellowship requirements, each Fellow is conversant in the language of the host country and has at least 10 years of experience in journalism or media management. Fellows now focus on working with local journalists to improve specific areas of coverage, including the environment, digital media and politics.
In Egypt, a unique, online media mentoring space — a Virtual Newsroom — will provide a wide-reaching digital outlet for Arabic-speaking journalists contending with growing restrictions. Leading the project, hosted by the American University in Cairo: Roderick Craig, a veteran British journalist who has written for top newspapers including the Times, Daily Telegraph, Guardian and Financial Times. Craig also was managing editor and deputy publisher of the Middle East Times in Cairo.
In Guinea, political coverage by independent radio will give citizens unprecedented opportunities to evaluate candidates and issues with new tools, including voter guides. The aim is to help Guineans hold free and fair elections in a country plagued by violence. Leader of the project, hosted by the OGUIDEM Media Organization: Vianney Missumbi, a citizen of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the first African Fellow. He has worked for more than 15 years in Africa as a radio reporter and producer and media-development expert.
In India, environmental journalists will form associations and gain sophisticated skills and new reporting tools, including online resources, to help their country find a model for sustainable development. Project leader, with the Tata Energy Research Institute, headed by the director of the 2007 Nobel Laureate group: Arul Louis, the news editor for borough publications at The New York Daily News, who has worked for newspapers in the United States and India for more than two decades.
In Indonesia, journalists will produce quality coverage of key environmental issues to help people across the archipelago achieve economic growth without depleting their nation’s natural resources and beauty. The association of environmental journalists will be energized with new resources and members. Leading the project, hosted by Indopersda Primo (Persda) media group: Harry Surjadi, an Indonesian journalist who is founder and executive director of the Society of Indonesian Environmental Journalists. Surjadi has been working for 20 years as a reporter and editor covering agriculture, technology and the environment.
In Jordan and Lebanon, television journalists will produce, for the first time, solution-oriented television programming on social issues — from health care to refugee problems — never before addressed on a regional basis. Leading the project, hosted by the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation in Beirut in collaboration with Jordanian television: Mariam Sami, the first Egyptian Fellow, who oversaw production and story assignment for a weekly Al-Jazeera English program and worked for nearly a decade as a Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press.
In Russia, journalists will provide in-depth coverage of critical community issues to help citizens hold local officials accountable during and after Russia’s parliamentary and presidential elections. Leading the project, hosted by weekly newspaper chain Moi Rayon: Eric Schwartz, who for more than a decade reported and edited for local, regional and national U.S. newspapers, and then worked as a journalist and consultant in Russia and taught U.S. and world politics at Binghamton University.
In Uganda, a new corps of health journalists will stress coverage of disease prevention and healthy living — and will scrutinize governmental budgets for corruption and inefficiency. Project leader: Christopher Conte, a reporter and news editor at The Wall Street Journal for 15 years. Conte writes for Governing magazine and has conducted research and written reports and articles on health issues for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.
The Fellows will spend a week in Washington, D.C., undergoing training courses that will prepare them for their year-long assignments. In addition, the group will be honored at a reception on Tuesday, October 23, at the DACOR Bacon House.
“This class puts into practice ICFJ’s belief that quality journalism improves the human condition,” ICFJ President Joyce Barnathan said. “Their work will leave a lasting beneficial impact on their host societies.”
The Knight International Journalism Fellowships program, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation since 1994, has trained more than 30,000 journalists, media managers and journalism students in 80 countries.
The International Center for Journalists, a non-profit, professional organization, promotes quality journalism worldwide in the belief that independent, vigorous media are crucial in improving the human condition.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes journalism excellence worldwide and invests in the vitality of the U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since 1950 the foundation has granted nearly $300 million to advance journalism quality and the freedom of expression. For more, visit http://www.knightfdn.org/.