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University of Iowa News Release


July 12, 2007

Haitian Journalists To Explore Free Press, Media Coverage During UI Visit

With the recent kidnapping and death of Haitian radio journalist Francois Latour making headlines in May, the idea of freedom of the press is an important one to Haitian journalists.

Nine Haitian journalists are coming to Iowa City to explore different aspects of journalism and the media from Thursday, July 19, through Tuesday, July 24. The Council for International Visitors to Iowa Cities (CIVIC), part of University of Iowa International Programs, is sponsoring the visit as part of the U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program. Three interpreters will accompany the journalists, who speak Creole, French, Spanish and some English.

The participants will learn about the fundamentals of journalism, the rights and responsibilities of a free press and the relationship between the media and political candidates. They will also look at strategic planning in media, media coverage of human rights issues, and curriculum and training in the field of print journalism, according to Thomas Baldridge, CIVIC executive director.

"This will be a real opportunity for these journalists to see how members of the media operate in a democracy where freedom of the press is a fundamental aspect of our country," Baldridge said. He added this would be a vivid juxtaposition to the lives of journalists in Haiti, a Caribbean nation long plagued by dictatorships, poverty, violence and political corruption. There are numerous reports of journalists receiving threats and going into hiding or leaving the country, Baldridge added.

During their visit, the journalists will have the opportunity to meet with everyone from human rights advocates to local journalists and UI journalism professors.

On Friday, July 20, the group will meet with Stefanie Bowers, Iowa City Human Rights coordinator; Amy Weismann, deputy director of the UI Center for Human Rights; and Frank Durham and Lyombe Eko, associate professors in the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

CIVIC volunteers Don and Suzanne Kirchner will host the journalists at their home in Coralville on Sunday, July 22. The reporters will meet with Lyle Muller, senior editor with the Gazette, and tour The Daily Iowan newsroom on Monday, July 23. The group will also have the opportunity to listen to music concerts in Iowa City, take a cruise on the Mississippi and visit the Figge Art Museum.

For more information or a complete itinerary, contact Baldridge at 319-335-0351 or

CIVIC is one of two organizations in Iowa that support the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program, and is a community organization of volunteers "serving and hosting international visitors as a means to promote international understanding on a person-to-person basis," Baldridge said.

International Programs enables University of Iowa students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity, and give all university constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information, visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the Office of the Provost.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

PROGRAM CONTACT: Tom Baldridge, CIVIC, 319-335-0351,

MEDIA CONTACT: Kelli Andresen, International Programs, 319-335-2026,

WRITERS: Lindsey Tinnell and Lois J. Gray