Foreign Journalists See US Democracy in Action at Conventions

Susan Stevenson is the director of the State Department's Foreign Press Center at the Republican National Convention, Tampa, Florida, August 28, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)Susan Stevenson is the director of the State Department's Foreign Press Center at the Republican National Convention, Tampa, Florida, August 28, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
x
Susan Stevenson is the director of the State Department's Foreign Press Center at the Republican National Convention, Tampa, Florida, August 28, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
Susan Stevenson is the director of the State Department's Foreign Press Center at the Republican National Convention, Tampa, Florida, August 28, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
Alex Villarreal
TAMPA, Fla. — Americans are not the only ones turning their attention to the U.S. presidential race this week. Reporters for foreign news outlets make up a substantial part of the 15,000 media members in Tampa, Florida, for the Republican Party's nominating convention. And a long-time U.S. State Department service is helping make sure they have the tools to work effectively.

Located in a nearby convention center, the Republican National Convention's media workspace is a sprawling maze of curtained-off enclosures - each assigned to a different media outlet.

One of those spaces belongs to the State Department's Foreign Press Centers.

Yingzi Tan is a reporter covering the Republican National Convention for China Daily, Tampa, Florida, August 28, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)Yingzi Tan is a reporter covering the Republican National Convention for China Daily, Tampa, Florida, August 28, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
x
Yingzi Tan is a reporter covering the Republican National Convention for China Daily, Tampa, Florida, August 28, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
Yingzi Tan is a reporter covering the Republican National Convention for China Daily, Tampa, Florida, August 28, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
Perched at the end of a long table in the heart of the centers' blue-partitioned workspace, reporter Yingzi Tan, is hard at work.

Tan writes for the English-language China Daily newspaper and is focusing her coverage on foreign policy issues and China-U.S. relations. This is her first time covering a U.S. political convention.

“It's quite a unique experience for me, because I feel very excited, because I've seen so many happy crowds, confident, and the scene is very lively inside the stadium. And it's very different from what we have in China, such kind of national convention, so it's very interesting for me to observe this American political event,” Tan said.

Susan Stevenson is the director of the Foreign Press Centers' two permanent locations in Washington and New York. She says the State Department has a long history of involvement in U.S. political conventions, helping to demystify the U.S. political process.

“What we do is we set up a filing space for the foreign journalists, and then we arrange for briefers from each party to come and talk about the party platform, as well as journalists to talk about what to look for in covering a convention, knowing that for many of these foreign journalists this will be their first time covering a convention and they need to know a little bit better how the U.S. political process works,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson says the effort is attracting journalists from around the world, including Asia, Europe, South America and Africa. She says most of the visitors are journalists like Tan, who are often new to the United States and trying to make sense of the American system.

“We did not come in 2004, and we got a lot of flak from the journalists about it, because if we are not here it's very hard for them to get access to anybody from the party platform or inside the party operation, because obviously their readers are not people who can vote,” Stevenson said.

Thomas Gorgissian is covering the Republican National Convention for the Egyptian daily al-Tahrir, Tampa, Florida, August 28, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)Thomas Gorgissian is covering the Republican National Convention for the Egyptian daily al-Tahrir, Tampa, Florida, August 28, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
x
Thomas Gorgissian is covering the Republican National Convention for the Egyptian daily al-Tahrir, Tampa, Florida, August 28, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
Thomas Gorgissian is covering the Republican National Convention for the Egyptian daily al-Tahrir, Tampa, Florida, August 28, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
Thomas Gorgoissian writes for the Egyptian daily Al-Tahrir newspaper, named after Tahrir Square, the center of the country's 2011 revolution. He says Egypt and other countries are interested in the U.S. political process because American policies directly affect them.

“They want to know what's going on in this convention and later after this they will be interested about the debates and then the election process in order to know if Obama is going to lose or Romney is going to win or Obama is going to continue -- what kind of America we are going to have or the world is going to have accordingly. Because as we know and you know and I know and everybody knows, if America sneezes the whole world can catch cold,” Gorgoissian said.

So far, the operation at the Republican convention has attracted nearly 80 journalists a day. The centers will also set up in Charlotte, North Carolina, next week when Democrats gather for their national convention.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs