Journalists open window to the world

Dangers of the job, insight on U.S. government among topics at annual World Press forum in Ely

JOURNALISTS from around the world and their Ely hosts posed in front of the Chamber of Commerce before leaving town. Photo by Nick Wognum.

by Tom Coombe

For journalists in some nations, even going to work is a dangerous proposition.
That was the sobering reality Monday, as several participants in a public forum in Ely described
the challenges, even life-threatening, that go with their craft.
“Twenty years ago, we had cases where journalists were kidnapped and never found,” said Hanna Liabakova, a freelance journalist who works with several media outlets in Belarus. “It’s not good in comparison to Western Europe. Journalists still face threats of fines or prison.”
Uganda’s Martin Kibaba offered a similar assessment, including documentation of more than 160 attacks on journalists in his country this year.
Kibaba was one of 10 touring journalists, all part of the World Press Institute fellows program, who participated in the forum held at the Pioneer Mine complex and sponsored by the Ely Echo. For nearly 30 years, journalists
in the WPI program have made Ely a stop on a nine-week tour that takes them all over the country,Including its largest cities, to visit major media outlets and meet with political leaders.
The Ely forum has been a staple, and it was part of a tour that included stays with local host families, a canoe trip and a visit to the International Wolf Center.
Journalists from Algeria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, India, Romania, South Africa, Uganda and Uruguay form this year’s group, and they addressed an assortment of issues ranging from press freedoms to American culture during a nearly four-hour event at the Miners Dry building.