The program was a result of a partnership between the Bulgarian-American Commission for Educational Exchange, Romanian-U.S. Fulbright Commission, Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission, and World Learning (US partner responsible for program design and its implementation). Fulbright Poland supported the recruitment process and provided part of the program costs. The program was funded by the U.S. Department of State.
A primary focus of the program was on the topic of explanatory journalism and an emphasis on reporting in the sciences. The countries represented among participants included Albania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia. Two groups visited the US in the Fall of 2022: October 15-29, 2022 and November 5-19, 2022.
For both groups the program itself was fairly similar and responding to following learning objectives:
● To learn about and develop skills, tools and strategies for developing explanatory journalism products in a fact-based, ethical way;
● To learn about and develop journalistic skills in countering disinformation and oversimplification;
● To learn about and develop approaches to ethical concerns surrounding complex topics;
● To learn about relevant U.S. best practices and have the chance to work with counterparts in U.S. institutions to hone skills in evidence-based, quality journalism; and
● To encounter relevant knowledge from other disciplines about how users absorb complex subjects and to experiment with different ways of delivering critical background knowledge.
The program of a 2-week study tour thus featured dedicated professional workshops, meeting and discussion with journalists and representatives of media outlets. It was of course also an occasion for networking and to visit media outlets in New York City and Washington DC.
The Poynter Institute delivered two half-day workshops for each group (one about “Fact Checking”, the other “Reporting the Next Big Global Health/Science Story”).
The groups visited / met journalists from such prominent media outlets as the Voice of America, The Washington Post, The New York Times but also with CSO supporting journalists, such as International Women’s Media Foundation and Solutions Journalism Network. The groups also visited universities that run successful journalism programs such as King’s College or Hofstra University, where they had the chance to participate in the Day of Dialogue – an annual event of Hofstra’s Center for Civic Engagement (the first group participated in a panel discussion on current media issues).
The overall assessment of the program was positive: based on observations, anecdotal evidence and results of the evaluation survey, it seems the visits were successful. Participants had a rich and positive overall experience and had the opportunity to meet, hear from and connect with nearly 30 individual journalists who work in a wide range of content areas and media platforms, and they also gained a rich cultural experience.