Last week we had visitors from all over the continent of Africa, the Edward R. Murrow Fellows. This semester, getting to meet professional journalists has been quite the eye-opening experience. But talking with the Murrow Fellows was an extra treat.
Hearing their reactions, as well as those of the Humphrey Fellows, to the elections was interesting. A lot of the fellows expressed surprise that the Election Day was so calm here, it even seemed like some were disappointed. As a first time voter, I can understand how they feel.
While I was very excited for Election Day, I also felt like most people acted like nothing special was going on. I think in general journalists get more excited than the general public or average citizen, but it’s even a bit disappointing to see how little the elections affect people’s day. I wondered if maybe the atmosphere would be more interesting and alive in the suburbs rather than downtown since suburban areas that have schools would be where the polling places are.
One of the several interesting Murrow Fellows I got to meet was Thelma Chikwanha
from Zimbawe. Thelma talked a lot about the differences in press freedom between her country and the United States. Her stories about the challenges and general danger she faces merely by being a journalist in her country were truly inspiring. Although I don’t want to be a political reporter, I really appreciated her dedication to covering politics and human rights. I loved it when she explained that to her, politics affects every topic from healthcare to gender issues.
The experience of meeting all the fellows really underscored a lot of the things that I have been learning over the semester. It’s been so interesting hearing about world issues from a point of view besides the American one, and there’s nothing that makes you appreciate the First Amendment more than hearing from people who don’t have it’s protection. To have that and hear from a journalist in a different country that still want and feels the need to cover difficult issues for the sake of the people makes me want to be a better journalist in my own way.
I really recommend every check out this video of Thelma’s reactions to the US elections and the press: