Remarks at the English for Journalists Course at American Corner Budapest

Ambassador Bell delivers her opening remarks. (Embassy photo by Attila Németh)
Ambassador Bell delivers her opening remarks.

I want to begin by thanking Erika Sólyom, our capable coordinator here at the American Corner Budapest, as well as Corvinus University, for agreeing to host today’s meeting. Thanks also to Timea Tiboldi, for spending much of the past nine months helping to develop this course, and for now facilitating your class over the next 10 weeks. And thanks to Zsuzsana Kozak for the efforts of her Visual World Foundation in helping coordinate the development of this course.

As the course is the culmination of a nearly year-long collaborative project, it’s worth also mentioning Maggie Sokolik of the University of California, Berkeley, and Mark Young of the Voice of America, who facilitated the development of this course.

Most of all, I thank all of you participants for coming here to the American Corner this evening at the end of your busy work days, an obvious sign of your commitment to this course. All of you come here today having been highly recommended—as bright, enthusiastic, early to mid-level, practicing journalists interested in enhancing their professional English skills—by our colleagues in the Embassy’s Press Section, by the Center for Independent Journalism, and by Dr. Tiboldi.

This course directly supports the work of our U.S. Mission to Hungary, which includes advocacy of a free press and support for English language learning. English plays an critical role in journalism: being the most widely used language in a range of important fields including government and science, the ability to use it at a professional level opens up access to new ideas, fosters information exchange, and provides employment opportunities.

Through your active participation in this course, you can expect to be better poised to conduct core journalistic activities-such as investigating stories, conducting interviews, and reporting to a global audience—and to develop the English language skills and abilities required to perform them. All while participating in engaging discussions of critical issues in the field, such as ethics and citizen journalism, as well as lighter yet equally vital topics such as humor, satire, and sports.

It’s timely that this course is beginning this week. As many of you probably know, this Sunday marks World Press Freedom Day. Twenty-two years ago, the United Nations declared it as such in order to raise public awareness of freedom of the press and expression: core values within our own and any functioning democracy, and necessary tenets in the field of journalism. So I hope that this week, during the course, and over your careers, you’ll take some time to reflect on and celebrate these freedoms, which allow you to practice your craft.

Let me conclude by congratulating you in advance, not only for your successful completion of this program, but for the Voice of America fellowship that one of you will earn. During this fellowship, later this year, you will be given the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., collaborate with the Voice of America’s seasoned reporters, and develop a story of your own proposal, which we at the American Embassy are very much looking forward to reading and sharing.

Köszönöm és jó munkát!