Posts Tagged ‘Training’


The cost of foreign affairs, it’s not as much as you think

Despite what most Americans think — and obviously some members of Congress as well —  non-military foreign affairs does not take up a quarter of the federal budget.

The core State Department budget for 2012– that part that pays for embassies and the salaries of diplomats WORLDWIDE — is $14.2 billion. That works out to about $46 per year for each person in the United States.

Once you add in non-military foreign aid — you know the stuff that allows other countries to grow enough so they can buy U.S. products and services — the entire non-military foreign affairs budget is $47 billion — $152 per person per year.

And yet what Americans think about the foreign affairs budget is way off.

According to a survey by Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland late last year the American people think the U.S. spends 25 percent on foreign affairs.

The public thinks 5 percent is the about the right amount.

The real number is ABOUT 1 PERCENT.

But it seems that even this small amount is too much for some.

It seems that those who want to cut the civilian foreign affairs budget look at just the cash and not the human cost. (Think about the men and women in the military who would have to go into harms way once the diplomatic corps is gutted.)

There are damn few talking about how the small foreign affairs budget provides a large positive impact both for U.S. security and for U.S. jobs.

There is a disconnect between the day-to-day diplomatic and development work and the American people. The folks on Main Street get the idea of a strong military defending freedom and all, but they don’t see how diplomacy fits in.

And part of the blame for this disconnect is the inability of local news organizations to see how global issues affect local events.

The mantra of “Local! Local! Local!” has led the accountants at news organizations around the country to think that anything that touches on international news should be avoided. Such a view denies the every increasing connection between Main Street and the rest of the world.

A local paper or radio station can always find a church group that sends a mission to some country. The trick is to find economic and political connections.

For example, the state of Florida is highly dependent on tourism from Brazil. For every 82 visas issued in Brazil to visit the United States 1 job in Florida is created. The U.S. mission in Brazil (3 consulates and the embassy) issued 620,000 visas last year. (For the math impaired that is 7,500 jobs created in Florida as a DIRECT result of visas issued to Brazilians by U.S. diplomats. No diplomats. No visas.)

Miami NBC got the connection a while back with its story about how Brazil was the #1 trading partner with Florida.

It is not difficult to make the connections between the world and Main Street. Stories that make these links put international events into a local context. And with context comes a better understanding of the world.

The stories might also help dispel myths about  the U.S. foreign policy apparatus. If nothing else, the public would be educated as to the real cost and value of the civilian foreign service.

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Brazilian journo qualification law raised again

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World

The International Federation of Journalists supports the Brazilian National Federation of Journalists (FENAJ) in their efforts to restore a requirement of a journalism college degree for anyone wishing to be a journalist.

And what a misguided position that is.

The campaign started up in 2009 when the Brazilian supreme court ruled that the requirement, which was imposed by the dictatorship, restricted free speech and was therefore unconstitutional.

The FENAJ argues that only properly trained journalists — with the proper degrees — can ensure fair and objective reporting.

“Journalists have to be truthful, impartial and accountable for their reporting,” said Elisabeth Costa, IFJ General Secretary and former President of FENAJ. “The public look to professional journalists for credible and objective information. We would fail them if we deny training to journalists.”

No one can dispute the need for training for journalists nor for the need to ensure journalists remain impartial and accountable for their reporting. But allowing a government to determine who can be a journalists gives the government way too much power over the news media.

A couple of quick points:

  1. No degree from any establishment of higher education guarantees skills, honesty, integrity or objectivity. (We have a Brazilian cook with all the proper certificates from university but all she can only prepare one or two dishes and is seems incapable of thinking through a recipe. But she has passed all the courses and has a degree. Do you really think this is the exception?)
  2. If the government can determine who can be a journalist, then it can also silence voices in the media that raise questions about government policy.

The more the government gets involved in reporting the news the more it can control the agenda and silence its critics. There is nothing to stop a local, state or national government official to have a journalist’s credentials revoked. Other journalists who want to keep their jobs learn the lesson quickly and stop pursuing stories that could cost them their jobs.

Brazilians should have learned from the days of the dictatorship that government control of the news is a bad thing for democracy. Most of the journalists understand that. And that is why I am surprised that their organization supports a means for government control of journalism.

If the concern is that a reporter is being biased and plays loose with the facts, then that reporter needs to be taken to task and fired. Pretty soon no one will hire that person into a media organization again. (When was the last time you saw a Jason Blair or Janet Cooke byline?)

As far as independent bloggers go, they are journalists just as much as the top reporter at the New York Times is. They share  the same constitutional protections. There is not one constitution for paid journalists at a major metropolitan newspaper and another for a blogger.

And before you say that the previous comments are U.S.-centric, remember that the Brazilian supreme court ruled the restriction on who can be a journalist can be seen as a violation of freedom of expression. The highest Brazilian legal authorities said the law imposed on the people by the dictators was in violation of a basic right of the Brazilian people.

Unlike the IFJ and FENAJ I don’t see how limiting expression and giving the government the power to control who can be a journalist helps protect and preserve democracy.

Look, maybe it all comes down to the FENAJ wants to limit the number of journalists available in the market. If that is so, then they are not really in the business of protecting journalists’ rights and democracy. They are then just proposing a restrictive labor law.

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Proof global knowledge and editors needed

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

The article below was posted on boosharticles.com today. Too bad there is no such country as the Dominican Republic of Congo

Ordinarily such a glaring error by the writer would be caught by the editor. But I am willing to bet all the money in my pocket against all the money in your pocket that there was no editor.

If there was an editor, then the writer and editor both deserve to be fired.

Just to be clear: There is a Democratic Republic of Congo and the Dominican Republic. Two different countries in two widely different parts of the world.

United Nations Plane Crashes in Dominican Republic of Congo

Posted by Josh on April 5, 2011 · Leave a Comment

A United Nations has plane has crashed in the Dominican Republic of Congo killing all of the 33 people on board aside from just one person. It is said that the accident occurred as the plane was coming in to land in the main airport of the country that is located in the capital city of Kinshasa.

It has now been confirmed that out of the 33 people on board the plane, there was only one survivor. Condolences have been offered to the families of those killed in the crash by the Security Council. It is thought that the plane missed the runway as it was coming in to land although the exact reasons for this happening are not yet confirmed. It is thought however that the wind conditions could have played a big part in the crash.

It is said that of the 33 passengers, four of them were the crew and the other 29 were UN personnel. It is said that the crew of the plane was Georgian. The plane in question was a Bombardier CRJ-200 jet which was part of Airzana Georgian Airways.

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The Marshall Plan: What it meant 63 years ago and what it means today

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

Here it is the 63rd anniversary of the signing into law the Foreign Assistance Act of 1948. Better known as the Marshall Plan.

Seems whenever there is talk of helping a country rebuild — think Haiti — inevitably someone mentions the Marshall Plan. What people tend to forget is that the Marshall Plan was designed to rebuild societies that already had stable political and industrial infrastructures.

What Haiti and many other countries need is development help.

The Marshall Plan was not so much a “development” plan but a rebuilding plan.

The Marshall Plan, by providing goods to a war-ravaged Europe also provided support to democratic forces — from democratic socialists to conservatives. Without the Marshall Plan the Soviet Union would have grabbed more influence in Western Europe by playing on the deprivation of post-war Europe.

The marching orders from Moscow were clear to their satellite parties in Western Europe: Stop the Marshall Plan. For example, while the French Communist unions refused to unload Marshall Plan goods at the ports, the French Socialist unions were anxious to do so.

Oh, by the way, the aid was offered to Eastern Europe as well. The Soviets made sure their puppet governments rejected the help.

Again, the Marshall Plan was designed to assist societies that already had a history and culture of industrial life and democratic rule. All they needed was a little help to get back on their feet.

With the help of the Marshall Plan Europe got back on its feet. In the process the U.S. gained new trading partners instead of clients. And we got political and military allies instead of adversaries.

All in all we got a good return for our minimal investment.

The problems countries such as Haiti and many in Africa face are a lack of democratic institutions and stable and safe infrastructure. What these countries need is not so much a Marshall Plan, but rather development support on a broad front.

The development of democratic institutions is vital to economic development. People have to see they have a stake in the growth and development of their country.

When only the political elite get the benefits of industrialization and when the workers are denied their basic rights, the embers of revolts and violence start to glow. Add unchecked corrupt government practices — because of no free press or independent watchdog — can only help the embers burst into an inferno.

Fortunately, the U.S. Agency for International Development figured out some time ago that along with building roads and power grids, development programs had to include the building a pluralistic culture.

In the past 15 or so years, AID has run programs that help local journalists understand what it means to have independent media. Sessions are run on how to either get the government to enact freedom of information laws or how to improve and use existing laws.

Adding to the development issue is the work of the National Endowment for Democracy. This private, government-funded group provides funds to the international arms of the Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO and the Democratic and Republican Parties. The programs these groups run help build business and labor groups and  the political parties run programs to improve the stability of political forces independent of government control.

Back to the main point:

Under the Marshall Plan, no one had to worry about building democratic institutions or building and industrial culture. The people were anxious and ready to do that. The Marshal Plan gave the people the material support they needed.

What is needed in the developing world are programs to get to that first step of development: the building of a pluralistic society with independent organizations to serve as a check and balance against government excesses.

So, please, let’s get our terms right in the future. Please let’s not see any more stories that say “Haiti needs a Marshall Plan.” It’s just bad history.

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Harnessing computers to get better journalism

First posted at SPJDC.org, the website of the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The Hong Kong University Journalism and Media Center sponsored a talk by Rutgers University media researcher, Nick Diakopoulos late last month.

The topic: Innovation and Computing in Journalism.

“As information comes at us faster and faster, we have more and more data to deal with,” Diakopoulos said. “Social media is pumping out terabytes of this every day. We need computers to help us deal with that scale.”

Diakopoulos defined computational journalism as “using computing to facilitate, enable and reinvigorate the practices and processes of journalism, including collecting, organising, making sense of, communicating and disseminating news information, while upholding the values of journalism such as fairness and accuracy.”

As part of the presentation Diakopoulos presented two programs to help wade through all that data.

  • Videolyzer” is a fact checking application designed for online videos.
  • Vox Event Analytics,” that asks, “What would a journalist ask from social media, what could be interesting?”

JMSC Media Talk: Innovation and Computing in Journalism from JMSC HKU on Vimeo.

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Getting the local/global thing done right

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

Congratulations to Herb Jackson, Washington correspondent for the [New Jersey] Record.

He not only understands the idea that there is a connection between international and local events, he knows how to dig into the various databases to get the numbers to back up the link.

Obama’s trip to Brazil key to N.J.

He did what I and a few others have been arguing for a long time. He took information already on hand from the wire services, looked up some data and did some local interviews.

Without spending extra money to send someone overseas, the readers of the Record got a news story that was specific to their local area AND showed how the New Jersey economy depended on global trade.

This is called providing context.

It would be nice to see more LOCAL reporting like this.

Too often most Americans don’t know or care about global events. In part, this is because the U.S. media don’t show enough intelligence to provide the context of why understanding what goes on in Brazil or Japan or Germany means to the local reader/listener/viewer.

Again, congrats to Herb Jackson for being a good journalist who sees connections vital to his readership.

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Al Jazeera d.g. speaks at TED about historic changes in the Arab world

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World

TED has always been a gathering of thinkers and innovators. Its invitation to Wadah Khanfar, director general of Al Jazeera fits right in.

Despite the animosity showed toward Al Jazeera by way too many Americans, it remains on of the best sources for information about what is going on in the Arab world. And many in the States have finally come to realize that once things really started hopping in tunis, Egypt and Libya.

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Women and journalism: A look at the gap on International Women’s Day

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World

Let’s face it despite the positive image of Brenda Starr, women still make up a minority in the newsrooms of the world.

So on International Women’s Day, I thought I would post a few items from around the world on the current status of women in journalism.

BTW, Reuters is holding a day-long live blog on Women’s Day. To participate, go to International Women’s Day 2011 LIVE

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International students, dating and cultural clashes

First posted at Journalism, the World and the Future at George Mason University.

Voice of America has a great blog entry about the trials and tribulations of international students in the United States trying to figure out that whole love and dating thing.

Love and Dating for International Students

It’s clearly too late for Valentine’s Day, but who says this kind of story can only be written at a certain time of the year.

For college journalists, the cultural issues that exchange and full-time international students face is an excellent opportunity to inform the larger campus population of the diversity on the campus.

For journalists in the community press, this issue presents a similar opportunity to discuss and explore the diversity of the community. It is also a good way to air out some of the cultural differences that could cause friction between the immigrant community and others in the area.

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New online news service in Dominican Republic

Good news for people who love good journalism in the Dominican Republic.

A new online newspaper is starting.

New digital newspaper launches in the Dominican Republic

The best part is that it is being run by an old friend of the SPJ and our Code of Ethics.

When Fausto Rosario Adames ran Clave – a now-defunct online publication — he adopted the SPJ Code of Ethics for his publication. Then SPJ President David Carlson met with Adames to talk about online journalism and ethics.

When Clave came out with a monthly weekly paper edition, it printed the SPJ Code in its first edition and at the unveiling party Adames specifically thanked the SPJ for providing copies of the code to him and his journalists.

Unfortunately Clave closed about 6 months ago. Besides angering many in the business community for their hard-hitting reporting (and thereby losing advertisers), Adames and his staff were under death treats because of their reporting of the growing influence of the drug syndicates.

 

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