For Immediate Release
Washington, DC – Seven prominent regional women journalists from Russia, including four editors-in-chief, will spend September 26–October 4 in Tri-Cities, examining women’s leadership through the U.S. Congress-sponsored Open World Program. The program is managed by the Open World Leadership Center, an independent federal agency located at the Library of Congress. Open World builds mutual understanding between the United States and the Russian Federation by enabling the new generation of Russian leaders to experience American democratic and free enterprise practices firsthand and exchange views with their American counterparts.
The delegation includes the chairwoman of an Astrakhan youth NGO, who is also the editor-in-chief of the NGO’s weekly (Astrakhan is in southern Russia and is the country’s main Caspian port); the editor-in-chief of the Rybinsk Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s newsletter, who also heads the Chamber’s information department (Rybinsk, Tri-Cities’ sister city, is located on the Volga River in Central Russia); editors-in-chief from the Perm Region (in the Urals) and the Belgorod Region (in southern Russia); the editor of an Astrakhan biweekly, who also acts as the vice president of the city’s journalists club; the editor of an Orel Region weekly (Orel Region is in the European part of Russia); and a deputy editor-in-chief of one of the leading publications in Izhevsk (capital of Russia’s Udmurt Republic in the western Urals).
The Russian delegates’ participation in the Open World Program gives them an opportunity to observe how their American counterparts tackle the same issues they are confronted with in Russia. A series of meetings, tours and presentations will allow them to examine the role of women in a modern society and discuss the challenges women managers face at work.
The Russian women will spend a day at East Tennessee State University, discuss civic and community leadership with Mayor Jeanette Blazier, participate in social events with Johnson City and Kingsport Rotary Clubs, visit Eastman Chemical Company and tour Johnson City Medical Center. The program also includes meetings with Mountain States Health Alliance and Evergrow Advertising executives.
An important subtheme of the Russian delegation’s visit is mass media — a subject of particular interest to Russian media professionals this year, when the country celebrates the 300th anniversary of Russian journalism. Despite the long heritage of the journalistic profession in Russia, the nation’s mass media industry still has a lot to learn from its Western “counterparts.”
For over 70 years, the Russian media was financially and ideologically controlled by the Soviet authorities. The collapse of the Soviet Union, and Russia’s commitment to building a democracy and ensuring the freedom of speech, opened vast opportunities for the new generation of Russian journalists, but it also created new challenges, such as finding nongovernmental sources of funding, sustaining business growth and ensuring the objectivity of coverage.
The Russian group’s program in Tri-Cities encompasses meetings and activities to address these priorities. The Russian women journalists will meet with their counterparts from some of the leading media outlets in the area, including The Business Journal, the Johnson City Press, WETS-FM and the Kingsport Times-News.
Dorothy Douglas of the National Peace Foundation (NPF) organized the Russian delegation’s visit for Open World. NPF has received a grant from the Open World Leadership Center to administer this and similar exchanges in 2003. NPF’s mission is to strengthen the foundations for peace building, peace education and conflict resolution by promoting democratic justice through partnerships, intercultural exchanges and citizen networks.
NPF has arranged home stays with local residents that will enable the delegates to experience American family life. The Russians also will take part in several community activities, including attending a church service at the Wesley United Methodist Church and an outdoor concert by the Johnson City Symphony.
Open World is a unique, nonpartisan initiative of the U.S. Congress. Over 7,000 Open World participants from all 89 Russian regions have been hosted in all 50 U.S. states since the program’s inception in 1999. Delegates range from members of the Russian parliament to mayors, from innovative nonprofit directors to experienced journalists, and from political party activists to regional administrators. In addition to its women as leaders theme, Open World sponsors visits focused on the rule of law, economic development, education reform, federalism, health, the environment and youth issues.
For more information, contact Katya Sedova at 202-466-6210 or Dorothy Douglas at 423-283-0411. For more background on Open World, visit http://www.openworld.gov.