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Cablegate: Benin Gpra Report: Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists

VZCZCXRO2098
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHCO #0796 3570637
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 220637Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY COTONOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0703
INFO RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1375
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS COTONOU 000796

PARIS FOR ARS (DWINTON)
DEPARTMENT FOR AF/PD (ANYASO, TITUS, LISENBY), AF/W (ACOOK)

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KIRC OIIP KDEM KPAO KISL PINR ML
SUBJECT: BENIN GPRA REPORT: EDWARD R. MURROW PROGRAM FOR JOURNALISTS
OCTOBER 6-24, 2008

REF: SECSTATE 092116

1. DESCRIPTION OF ACTIVITY: Benin's participant in the Edward R.
Murrow Program for Journalists, Fernand Nouwligbeto, journalist at
"Agence Proximites," returned to Benin and debriefed the Acting
Public Affairs Officer and the Cultural Affairs Assistant about his
visit. He was very satisfied with the program and promised to share
with his office colleagues the insights, knowledge and perceptions
he gained during the program in the U.S.

2. DATE OF ACTIVITY: October 6-24, 2008; first quarter,
FY 09.

3. PROGRAM JUSTIFICATION/OBJECTIVES: The program was an opportunity
for Fernand Nouwligbeto to get a better understanding of the rights
and responsibilities of a free press in a democracy, observe
operational practices, standards and institutions of the media in
the U.S., and gain insight into the social, economic and political
structures of the U.S.

4. MPP UMBRELLA THEMES AND AUDIENCE REACHED: Subject program meets
Post's objectives in Promoting Democracy, Good governance, Human
Rights and Mutual Understanding.

5. ACTIVITIES/IMPACT/RESULTS: During the debriefing session, Fernand
Nouwligbeto said he was struck by American hospitality. He said that
he found Americans to be eager to welcome guests, help them, orient
them and answer their questions. He noticed the American notion of
time and punctuality. He was also impressed with the freedom of the
press in the U.S.. There is seldom any abuse of media professionals'
liberties, as is the case in Benin and other African countries.
Access to public information is guaranteed. There are dynamic press
enterprises that have existed for centuries. Nevertheless, due to
the development of the new technologies of information and
communication, especially Internet, and the emergence of "citizen
journalism" (blogs) the traditional media, particularly print media
have been experiencing economic difficulties and a loss of audience.
In spite of all these difficulties, traditional U.S. media are
working hard to adjust to the new situation.

As an immediate result of his participation, Fernand Nouwligbeto
organized a lessons-learned workshop with his office colleagues and
correspondents of Agence Proximites in the West African sub region
and shared with them his U.S. experience and the opportunities
offered by the IVLP. From his visits at U.S. media outlets, he
retained their great capacity for adaptation, their sense of
innovation and their viability despite economic difficulties. Taking
into account the socio economic and cultural context of Benin, he
intended to apply these notions to Agence Proximites so as to allow
the press agency to become more visible on the information market.

Considering the U.S. experience, Fernand Nouwligbeto is more
determined than ever to defend freedom of the press in Benin in his
journalistic productions as well as in his involvement in the
networks and associations of information and communication
professionals.

6. The participant found the program to be well organized and
tightly focused. There was a great variety of activities.
Nonetheless, for the next program, he suggested visits to
organizations that support Southern media. He wished there could
have been sessions on the legal aspect and the administrative,
financial and commercial management of American media.

7. NON-USG SOURCES OF IN-COUNTRY FUNDING/IN KIND SUPPORT: None

8. QUALITY OF USG SUPPORT: Excellent. The participant was very
impressed by the quality and professionalism of the speakers, ELOs
and programs.

BROWN

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