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A veteran editor who led Uruguay’s largest newspaper, a South African strategic communications executive dedicated to eradicating the legacy of apartheid and a Cambodian reporter who was shot at while covering a story are among the 12 global journalists and communicators studying at Arizona State University.
The professionals are at ASU as part of the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Each year, the Cronkite School welcomes a cohort of midcareer professionals from around the globe to study journalism, receive leadership training and connect with media organizations as part of the Humphrey Fellowship Program, an initiative of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.
The 10-month program, which starts this week, is administered by the Institute of International Education. The Cronkite School is the only school in the U.S. hosting a Humphrey Fellowship in Journalism.
“The Humphrey Program brings the world into the Cronkite classroom,” said Assistant Dean B. William Silcock, director of the Cronkite Global Initiatives and curator of the Humphrey program. “Doing so opens doors of understanding and opportunity about the complexities and challenges covering world events in the accurate and ethical manner Walter Cronkite would expect.”
The fellows study under Silcock and participate in classes at the Cronkite School as well as give presentations as part of Cronkite Global Conversations, an annual spring lecture series on global journalism.
They also travel across Arizona and the U.S., sharing their experiences and learning about democracy and journalism. In the final weeks of the program, the fellows test their training by working at professional media organizations across the country.
This year’s fellows have a wide range of professional backgrounds. They are from Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, China, Croatia, Egypt, Estonia, Hungary, India, Kenya, South Africa and Uruguay.
Award-winning Cambodian journalist Bopha Phorn said she hopes to gain insights into investigative journalism and explore the economic and political impact of social media, while studying at the Cronkite School. Phorn, who has more than a decade of reporting experience covering crime and corruption, was shot at by military police while reporting on a story on illegal logging.
“The incident made my belief in investigative journalism even stronger,” she said. “Though my work could have ended my life, I believe it is more important than ever to work hard to make sure more and more people believe and take part in journalism."
This is the eighth year that the Cronkite School has hosted the program. Since 2010, 80 journalists and communicators from 53 countries have studied at the school.
Established in 1978, the Humphrey Fellowship Program provides non-degree academic study for experienced professionals from countries undergoing development or political transition. Fifteen major universities host a total of approximately 120 fellows each year.
Martín Aguirre, Uruguay
Martín Aguirre is the newsroom director of El País, the oldest and largest newspaper in Uruguay. With more than 15 years of experience, Aguirre has covered a variety of topics, ranging from politics to sports. He also is a lawyer and a college professor, having taught courses on ethics, freedom of speech and legal regulation of media. Aguirre specializes in regional politics in South America, having published the paper “The Progressive Wave: A Decade of Left Wing Governments in South America.” Aguirre has an undergraduate and master’s degree in law from the Universidad de la República.
Ahmed Elashry, Egypt
Ahmed Elashry has served on the communications teams of three Egyptian prime ministers and has been recognized as one of the “Most Effective Young Arab Leaders” by the Arab League. He currently works at the Middle East Africa Strategic Advisors, where he develops policies for companies and organizations. Elashry has extensive experience in media and communications. He founded a youth-run radio program, coordinated communications for the Women’s International Peace Movement, and co-founded a community newspaper. Elashry has a law degree from Ain Shams University in Egypt and a master’s in public administration and public policy from the University of York in the U.K. as a Chevening scholar.
Daneel Knoetze, South Africa
Daneel Knoetze is the communications officer at Ndifuna Ukwazi, a South African activist organization and law center dedicated to constitutional rights and social justice. His work has included a campaign combating the legacy of apartheid spatial planning through affordable housing development in Cape Town’s inner city. Previously, he worked as a news reporter and features writer for the Cape Argus and GroundUp. He also was a freelancer for the Mail & Guardian. His reporting focused on the struggles of working-class people living in shack settlements on the Cape's urban periphery, evictions, gentrification and the challenges faced by farmworkers in the Cape’s winelands region. Knoetze graduated with an honors degree in journalism and media studies from Rhodes University in 2012. Knoetze hopes to use his time as a Humphrey fellow to develop skills that can assist working-class and marginalize communities to communicate their struggles for equality and justice.
Kazi Mohua, Bangladesh
Kazi Mohua has been a prime-time anchor and current-affairs editor for nearly a decade, anchoring news and talk shows for a 24/7 news channel. Mohua also is an op-ed writer for a national English daily newspaper and a motivational speaker. Her talks focus on empowering women in journalism, and she has helped many women pursue journalism careers in her home country. Mohua holds a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English literature and language from University of Dhaka.
Mila Moralic, Croatia
Mila Moralic is an experienced journalist, with a focus on foreign policy and international affairs. Moralic currently works as an executive editor at Media Servis, the Croatian national radio news agency. With 10-plus years of experience, she has hosted broadcasts and round tables and has taught classes on a wide range of subjects, including democracy and rule of law, voting, minority rights and pluralism. Moralic holds a master’s degree in comparative politics from the University of Zagreb.
Paul Udoto Nyongesa, Kenya
Paul Udoto Nyongesa has 20-plus years of experience as a high-school teacher, journalist and communications expert. Nyongesa has written about wildlife and tourism for a variety of publications, including Msafiri (The Traveler), the inflight magazine for Kenya Airways. Nyongesa also is the communications manager for the Kenya Wildlife Service and has been an associate consultant with Impact Africa, a Nairobi-based communications firm. He is a volunteer publicist with Rhino Change, an off-road motorsport fundraising event for environmental conservation. Nyongesa holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Moi University as well as a postgraduate diploma in mass communication and a master’s degree in communication studies, both from the University of Nairobi in Kenya.
Szabolcs Panyi, Hungary
Szabolcs Panyi is a leading investigative journalist at Hungary’s most-read independent news site, Index.hu. There, he has won the Gőbölyös Soma Prize, awarded for the best investigative articles in his country, for two consecutive years in 2015 and 2016. His reporting focuses on anti-corruption and national security-related issues. He has participated in the U.S. State Department’s Edward R. Murrow Program for journalists in 2014 and the U.S. Foreign Press Center's election reporting tour in 2016. Panyi holds a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philology and literature from the Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest.
Bopha Phorn, Cambodia
Bopha Phorn is an award-winning journalist with more than a decade of experience, covering economics, politics, corruption, crime, security, and environmental and social issues. While working on a story on rampant illegal logging, Phorn was shot at by military police. For her dedication, she received the prestigious Courage in Journalism Award from the International Media Foundation. Phorn started her career at Deutsche Presse Agenteur in 2006 and worked for the Cambodia Daily newspaper from 2008-2014. She currently is a stringer reporter for Voice of America Khmer service and part-time lecturer at Pannasastra University in Phnom Penh. Phorn holds a bachelor’s degree in education in English from the Institute for Business Education.
Marina Ridjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Marina Ridjic has been a journalist for more than a decade and is currently a news presenter for Al Jazeera Balkans. Her reporting focuses on politics — in particular campaigns and elections, political marketing and spin. Ridjic has played a key role in helping public institutions in her home country establish communication strategies to promote new partnerships between groups with different ethnic and religious backgrounds. She holds a master’s degree from the Faculty of Political Science in Sarajevo, where she analyzed nationalistic propaganda of political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Holger Roonemaa, Estonia
Holger Roonemaa is the head of news for Eesti Päevaleht and delfi.ee. Under his leadership, his reporters have won several national journalism awards. Individually, Roonemaa has been nominated for the Journalist of the Year award from his newspaper, the only journalism award event in Estonia, conducted by the Estonian Newspaper Association. With 10-plus years of journalism experience and an expertise in politics, defense and security, corruption and crime, Roonemaa has been involved with several cross-border investigative journalism projects. Roonemaa received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in journalism from the University of Tartu.
Kiran Somvanshi, India
Kiran Somvanshi is the chief manager at the research bureau of India’s leading financial daily, The Economic Times. She has a decade of experience in financial journalism, tracking consumer goods and pharmaceutical companies. Her interests include corporate governance, gender diversity and corporate responsibility. Somvanshi earned her doctorate for her study on the state of Corporate Social Responsibility in Indian Companies from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. She graduated in psychology as well as law from the Mumbai University. Somvanshi also is a qualified company secretary and cost accountant.
Xiaofeng Wang, China
Xiaofeng Wang is a senior journalist with the Beijing News, where she has worked for six years, covering political and international news with a focus on China’s foreign policy. Wang has traveled to many Asian countries to cover issues in the region, including the Korean peninsula crisis and Fukushima nuclear accident. She holds a master’s degree in politics from the University of Sheffield in the U.K.