We recently talked with William Smullen, Director of the National Security Studies program at Syra- cuse University, about the October visit of a number of journalists from North Africa under a new initiative called the Edward R. Murrow Journalism Fellows Program that is sponsored by the State Department. Smullen told us about the goals of this national initiative as well as the university’s involvement with it.

William Smullen: In December 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced that the State Department would begin a new initiative called the Edward R. Murrow Journalism Fellows Program. The objective of the program would be to bring international journalists to America for a period of time, about three weeks, to expose them to how our government functions, how we practice journalism, how we develop public policy, and obviously also to have them interact with Americans so that they could have a better appreciation for how we live.

The program was begun in 2006; the State Department picked eleven universities the first year. Syracuse University was asked if it would like to participate to a great extent because of the journal- ism school’s reputation. I was asked to develop the program and I agreed to do so, but I asked the Maxwell School’s dean if he would like to involve Maxwell. Because it is the number one school of public administration in the country, why not have the number one journalism school and the number one school of public administration share the responsibility of hosting these journalists?

There were about 190 journalists participating in the first year. They spend one week at one of ten universities in delegations of ten, fifteen, and twenty at each. We had seventeen journalists from the Middle East the first year. Syracuse University was asked to participate again in 2007. About two hundred journalists were invited to come, and the second year we had a group from North Af- rica, twelve as I recall. This year again they asked us to participate. We were asked to host another group from North Africa that was made up of journalists from Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia. There are also three State Department interpreters that come with them.

Our goal here over the past three years has been to show these visitors how we practice journalism in a free and democratic society; the values of freedom of the press; how we execute, develop and execute public policy in our government; and also to take them to the homes of Americans.