Journalist program offers info on U.S. government, structures

NUKU΄ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Oct. 26, 2011) - The International Visitor Leadership Program for Journalists began in Washington DC on October 24, bringing together 150 journalists from around the world, including Linny Folau of Matangi Tonga Online, from Nuku'alofa.

Called the Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists 2011, the annual program is sponsored by the United States Department of State and is aimed at providing journalists from different countries and region around the world the opportunity to learn more about the different complexities in the United States from its government structure to its civic, political life and media.

Journalists will examine the rights and responsibilities of a free press in the US, gain insight into social, economic and political structures and observe practices, standards and operations of media and journalism Institutions.

At the same time the program is also an opportunity for participating journalists to share with Americans information about their own countries and build partnerships with the people they meet as well with fellow journalists.

The 150 journalists are divided up into 10 different regional groups and Tonga joins Papua New Guinea (the only two nominated representatives from the South Pacific region) in the East Asia Pacific (English speaking) group.

The group will attend lectures and meetings including a briefing by the Under Secretary at the US Department of State Wendy R Sherman. They will attend a press briefing as observers at the White House to be conducted by the White House Press Secretary. The group will also visit the US House of Representatives as well as the Washington Post.

The program continues nationally with a visit to civic institutions in Denver and Fort Morgan, Colorado before visiting Minneapolis in Minnesota to attend academic and professional seminars on the Practice of Journalism and Current Affairs, hosted by the University of Minnesota's School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The school has more than 1,000 undergraduate majors and 100 graduate students and is ranked among the foremost journalism schools in the US.

The 10 journalists in the group with Linny include, Jessica Hill a Producer from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Kimsong Kay the Editor in Chief of Phnom Penh Post in Cambodia, Julio Da Silva Guterres, Director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism in East Timor, Fnu Fitriyah the Assistant Head Program from SmartFM Radio Network in Indonesia, Sara Pereira Farr a journalist from Macau Television, Ider Sambuu the Head of External Relations BTV Television in Mongolia, Veronica Francis a freelance journalist from PNG, Wee Leong a Senior Reporter from Today MediaCorp in Singapore and Nuthatai Chotechuang a News Anchor and Producer from the National Channel in Thailand.

All groups meet for the conclusion of the program in New York City on November 8-12.

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