IVLP: Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists (French) - A Project for Francophone Africa

In November, QPTV was once again chosen by the International Visitor Leadership Center under the U.S. Department of state as a point of destination for visiting foreign journalists.  The second group of journalist were all from French Speaking African countries.  Present were representatives from Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Gabon, Mali, Senegal and togo to name but a few.                     

The objectives and the focus of the West African journalists were different from those of their Afghani counterparts. Again to quote from the materials provided by the State Department:

“The Department of State has outlined the following specific objectives for the [Edward R. Murrow] project:

  • Examine the rights and responsibilities of a free press in a democracy;
  • Observe operational practices, standards and institutions of the media in the U.S.
  • Gain insight into the social, economic and political structures of the U.S.; and
  • Participate in academic seminars and a  professional symposium highlighting current trends and challenges in the media profession.”

The meeting with the French speaking African Journalists began with a brief explanation of how New York City is divided into five boroughs each of which has its own public Access Center. The demographics were outlined to provide the journalists with a thumbnail sketch of each borough in terms of its ethnic, religious and linguistic divisions. The population of Queens exceeds that of many African nations. The visiting journalists were given a brief but complete history of Community Television from its early beginnings to how it is funded.  Using the analogy of the public library, guests were presented with an in-depth presentation of the daily operation s of a community television center.  Of particular interest to our visitors was the idea of a media free of censorship and government control, they wanted to know how that was possible. I explained to them how our Constitution works with particular emphasis on the First Amendment. It was at that point that I realized that the First Amendment is not a leading American export. Along with QPTV’s Rules & Procedures I always keep a copy of the Constitution in my office. I copied the First Amendment and distributed the copies to our visitor’s. (I also provided each our visiting journalists with a copy of our Rules & Procedures so they could understand the inner workings of an Access Center.)

It’s not an exaggeration to say that QPTV was the high point of our visitors trip to American. Of all the media outlets they visited we were the only one to serve them breakfast.  More importantly, QPTV represented the type of media outlet they could hope to build in their native countries – we’re the impossible dream that could actually be realized. Whereas to create a network like CBS, CNN or NBC would require more money and resources than they have available.

On Thursday November 10, 2011 a farewell gathering was held at the United States Mission to the United Nations. I attended the gathering to wish our guests safe travel back their homes. While there I spoke with Ms. Ella Butler from IVLP who informed me that QPTV received very high marks from both groups of visiting journalists. (Ms. Butler accompanied the journalists to QPTV’s studio.) Ms. Butler also told me that QPTV will remain on their list of media locations to visit was and that we would also be added to their list of Guest Speakers who are invited, from time to time, to travel overseas to work with journalist abroad.

I’m very proud of what we accomplished by working with The International Visitor Leadership Program.  There’s an old saying, “Think globally – act locally.” QPTV can proudly declare that it not only thinks globally but has now become an international player in the arena of Community Media.

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