Message from Keith Twitchell

US Attorney Peter Strasser takes part in DOS’ Speaker Program in Mongolia

Journalists from African nations visit WRKF

Discussed independent journalism and public radio’s community support funding model.

BATON ROUGE, La. – 89.3 WRKF-FM hosted a delegation of 13 journalists from countries throughout Africa plus Haiti, earlier this week. They were in the U.S. to observe best practices for operating and funding media institutions. They were participants in the U.S. Department of State’s Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists, part of the International Visitor Leadership Program.


“The state department brings emerging professionals in journalism to the U.S. to examine the role of a free press in a democratic society," said Susannah Coolidge, Executive Director of  New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council, which arranged the meeting on behalf of the state department. “Field visits to independent media like WRKF help the journalists gain an understanding of media coverage in state politics and government."


The journalists represented print, broadcast, and digital media organizations. They came from Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Haiti, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia. Three interpreters accompanied the delegation.


WRKF President and General Manager Paul Maassen said, "The visiting journalists were interested in public radio’s funding model. 90% of WRKF’s funding comes from community donations and local business underwriting. It is gratifying to share some of the best practices of U.S. public radio stations for on air fundraising and programming.”


Maassen added, “One journalist asked how we ensure editorial independence from funding sources.  I said that while we value all who support our work, those who fund us do so in the knowledge that public radio journalism serves only the public. Public radio journalists as well as sponsorship, communications and development staff – are committed first and foremost to that service.”


WRKF, Baton Rouge’s NPR station, connects community members to independent news, cultural programs, and each other, through local, national and international news and programs. Founded in 1980, WRKF is supported by community donors and underwriters who value discovering the world around them.


Photos attached, described below. High resolution photos available from Barbara Clark, 225-278-0504,

WRKF.11.4.19 Seated: Jonas Alirou of Cameroon, Jerry Bivigou of Gabon, Marie Rose Mukayiranga of Rwanda and Arsène Ngoussou of Repubic of Congo attend a public radio funding presentation at WRKF Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. (WRKF/Marie Constantin)

WRKF.11.4.19 Studio: WRKF’s Adam Vos discusses public radio programming with visiting journalists at WRKF Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. The journalists were in the U.S. to observe best practices for operating and funding media institutions. Pictured: Fasika Yimer of Ethiopia, Adedayo Oketola of Nigeria, Jonas Alirou of Cameroon, Jerry Bivigou of Gabon, Luckner Garraud of Haiti, Marie Rose Mukayiranga of Rwanda and Arsène Ngoussou of Republic of Congo. (WRKF/Marie Constantin)

After three years as Program Officer, Svetlana Pizzati will leave the NOCDC in mid-July to volunteer in Chile with the English Opens Doors Program. The English Opens Doors Program (Programa Inglés Abre Puertas) is an initiative supported by the Chilean Ministry of Education. The Program was created in 2003 to improve the level of English for students between 5th and 12th grades throughout the Chilean public school system by providing teacher training, instructional materials, language competitions, English immersion camps, and semester abroad scholarships for university students. A native of Russia, Svetlana graduated Cum Laude from the University of New Orleans in 2014 with a degree in International Studies with a concentration in Diplomacy and International Organizations and a minor in Spanish. In 2015 Svetlana took a short-term assignment as NOCDC Projects Assistant, and before that she had served as an intern for her undergraduate course work.  Svetlana is really excited to embark on a new journey and get firsthand experience of the Latin American culture.

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