Conversations about the effect of 24-hour news, social media and misinformation during elections around the world were a few of the topics discussed when 17 international journalists visited Grady College on Nov. 9, 2022.
The group was part of the Murrow Fellow program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and Poynter and hosted for the day by the Cox International Center. The Murrow Fellows program invited journalists to the United States from around the world including Australia, Taiwan, South Korea, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, just to name a few. The journalists are selected to tour the U.S. and learn about journalistic practices over a three-week period. The journalists were selected by embassies in their home countries.
“This Fellowship is one of the most prestigious media programs funded by the Department of State and we are honored by again be selected to work with these visitors, who are very senior journalists in their home countries,” said Tudor Vlad, executive director of the Cox International Center.
Several former heads of state, including Tony Blair, have been Murrow Fellows in the past.
The international journalists heard from Dean Charles Davis, Jonathan Peters who spoke about media law and Amanda Bright who talked about fact-checking tools used in the United States. All of the discussions focused on this year’s theme, “Media Responsibility in an Age of Disinformation for the Indo-Pacific.”
The journalists participated in a panel discussion with students and members of the Communication and Media Fellows Program (formerly the Business and Public Communication Fellows Program), talking about media in their own countries and how disinformation is handled.
Several panelists discussed topics like reporting in collaboration with journalists in other countries since they can’t cover certain topics in their own country. Panelists also talked about the amount of misinformation that is spread during elections in their home country and commented that they were eager to see how elections are treated in the United States.
“It was fun to see cheering and dancing related to the elections yesterday,” commented Nyamdari Baigalmaa, a journalist working with Mongol Content from Mongolia, about the celebrations at campaign headquarters.
There was also a discussion about the effect of 24-hour news channels which the United States has but many of the countries represented in the program do not have.
Lucy Cormack, a state political reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in Australia wondered if some of the misinformation in the U.S. comes from the need to fill a 24-hour news vacuum.
“I am acutely aware of the media freedoms you enjoy,” Cormack said, “but there is such a need to feed this hungry beast 24 hours a day and that need might spawn misinformation.”
She added that she is not sure if errors are intentional in some 24-hour operations or if it’s because they are understaffed, but she noted it’s always better to wait to report a story and be second, than to be wrong.
“It’s so important to confirm stories and be right,” Cormack emphasized.
A question about the role of social media in journalism was asked to the visiting journalists. Although some journalists use social media channels like What’s App or Signal, most have not advanced that far due to security issues with different platforms.
Vlad wrapped up the panel discussion commenting on what he learns from these discussions.
“I always feel like I am cheating because I learn more than I offer,” Vlad said.
For more pictures of the visit with the Murrow Fellows, please see the Murrow Fellows Flickr album.