Exchange Matters / December 11, 2018

When Journalism is Under Fire: A Look Back

By Franzi Rook, Senior Program Manager, Member Education

From December 4-7, the Santa Fe Council on International Relations (SFCIR), a Global Ties U.S. Community-Based Member, hosted the event “Journalism Under Fire” with an extraordinary roster of speakers and international visitors to discuss the role of media in today’s world.

Each day focused on a single issue at the local or global level, including: freedom of the press; fake news, persecution, and exile; journalism at the U.S.-Mexico border; the challenges of local and indigenous journalism; and more.

More than 300 attendees were present each day, with 600 on the opening night alone, including journalists from print, radio, online, photo, and political cartoonists. There were 65 speakers from the U.S., which included Pulitzer Prize winners among them, as well as speakers from Hungary, Kosovo, Mexico, Ukraine, and Russia.

In addition, several U.S. Department of State-sponsored international visitors were in attendance, including 48 participants of the Edward R. Murrow Fellows Program for Journalists, and two Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows currently studying at Arizona State University.

More than 200 high school and college students, teachers, and local journalists joined to add a strong local contingent. Students took the opportunity to practice their interviewing skills with the international visitors.

The panel discussions spanned the broad range of journalist experiences from world conflicts to personal stories. One journalist shared how she was embedded and eventually arrested at Standing Rock during the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. An Iranian cartoonist shared his experience of being imprisoned for his work and later exiled.

A highlight for the Global Ties Network was the programming on Citizen Exchange Circles (CECs). Twenty CECs were facilitated to bring U.S. and international attendees together. Sandy Campbell, Executive Director of SFCIR, provided training to the facilitators.

While the event lasted only three days, it involved a full year of planning, obtaining sponsorships, fundraising, and outreach to procure speakers. Much of it was done in collaboration and support from the City of Santa Fe and local newspapers. Read more about the behind-the-scenes of the event in this interview with Sandy Campbell.

SFCIR is no stranger to hosting large events that bring communities together. In 2017, SFCIR hosted the Learning Lab portion of the Diplomacy Begins Here Regional Summit held in Albuquerque, NM, which brought together more than 200 attendees from across the U.S. to learn best practices on international exchange programming and nonprofit best practices.