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Foreign Journalists Join Neiman Fellows

By Heather B. Long, Crimson Staff Writer

Twelve international journalists who have reported on issues ranging from Mexican social concerns to the treatment of Saudi Arabian troops in Afghanistan have been named Nieman Fellows for the 2000-2001 academic year, the Nieman Foundation announced yesterday.

"All of these reporters are making a difference in countries where it is sometimes very difficult to do so," said Bill Kovach, curator for the Nieman Foundation.

Along with the twelve U.S. journalists who were named earlier this month, they will form the 63rd class of Nieman Fellows.

The Nieman Fellowship program, the oldest of its kind, was established in 1938 to allow mid-career journalists who demonstrate accomplishment and promise to study for a year in any part of Harvard.

Stefanie Friedhoff, a German freelance journalist based in Cambridge, said she hopes to enhance her skills as a science writer by taking History of Science classes as a new Nieman Fellow. Friedhoff said she is delighted to have the chance to work in an intercultural environment.

"What I hope to gain is not only connections but also a better understanding of what [scientific discoveries] mean for the reader," she said.

Andreas Harsono, a current international Nieman Fellow from Indonesia, said the experience has enabled him to grow as a journalist.

"Here we learn to be not only a better journalist, but also a better human being," he wrote in an e-mail message. "We learn from Bill Kovach, a senior guru, we learn from Harvard professors, we learn from street musicians, we learn from our colleagues."

Benjamin Fernandez, a current international Nieman Fellow from Paraguay, said the experience also allows journalists to take a year off to reflect on their jobs.

"After working long hours in the newsroom and suffering a lot of pressure, [the] Nieman year is a kind of paradise in the middle of our careers," he wrote in an e-mail message.

Kovach personally selected the new fellows with the help of former Nieman Fellows from around the world.

Kovach will be stepping down as curator of the Foundation in June.

President Neil L. Rudenstine is heading the search for a new curator, and Kovach said the University hopes to fill the position by next month.

"The next curator will have the pleasure of working with [the new fellows] in their upcoming Nieman year," he said.

Kovach said the incoming fellows come from a variety of backgrounds and will bring varied interests to the program.

Three of the future fellows are television journalists and four, including Friedhoff, are interested in studying the effects technology has had on the modern world.

Sulaiman Al-Kahtani is the first Saudi Arabian journalist to be selected for the program and has a reputation for promoting freedom of expression in his country, Kovach said.

Kovach said that Helena Smith, a southern Balkans correspondent based in Athens, has a reputation for being one of the best reporters covering that area.

Other journalists selected include Ana Lourdes Cardenas, a television reporter in Mexico City; Sunday Dare, an editor from Nigeria; and Paula Fray, an editor from South Africa.

Dong-Kwan Lee, an assistant editor from South Korea, Consuelo Saavedra, a television reporter, anchor and editor from Chile and Senad Pecanin, an editor from Bosnia and Herzegovina, were also named. Other Nieman fellows will include Sayuri Daimon, a reporter for The Japan Times; Jingcao Hu, director of China Central Television; and Anil Padmanabhan, economic affairs editor of The Business Standard in India.

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