I collected 22 new business cards today.
Made 22 new friends.
I’ll probably never see any of them again but we share a common bond _ we are journalists.
The Institute of Internataional Education, an educational and training nonprofit, organized a trip for the 22 international reporters and writers to the Oakland Tribune Friday.
The group was from Angola, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Latvia, Macau, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, the People’s Republic of China, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Eight were women.
The international delegation had been in the United States for 10 days by the time they got to the ninth- floor Oakland Tribune newsroom by the airport.
They seemed to like the Tribune _ at least they oohed and awed over view from the office building where we’ve worked for the past year.
They told me to skip the tour. They’d seen the newsroom of the Washington Post. Wonder what the view is like there.
Locally, they’d been to Wired and Mother Jones magazines in San Francisco. And they’d visited the Center for Investigative Reporting in Berkeley to hear about the Chauncey Bailey Project, a consortium of newspaper, radio and TV reporters continuing the investigation of Oakland Post Editor Bailey’s murder and the connected probe into Your Black Muslim Bakery in Oakland.
The San Francisco Chronicle didn’t return their calls, one of the organizers told me. They have no view.
The group was visibly awestruck by the fact that we cover every Oakland murder and that Oakland is ranked as the fourth most dangerous city in the United States.
Some of the women told me that females only get to cover light news, education or health care in their countries. They seemed surprised that a woman was allowed to cover homicides. They asked me if I’d ever been scared covering the bloodshed in the kill zones. I said I’d only been threatened once in my 15-year career. They seemed happy to hear that.
They also wanted to know if we covered suicides (we generally don’t unless the person jumps off our building, which happened four years ago when we were at Tribune Tower), kidnappings (yes) and how we get the police to cooperate with us.
Many of the journalists said they aren’t able to cover such news events under strict regulations from their governments.
We talked about the death of the newspaper “scoop” because of online news sites and how multi-media has changed the way we work. They heard more about the Bailey project from long-time Tribune reporters Cecily Burt and a few tales of woe from crime reporter Harry Harris.
They took business cards from us. One invited me to Sri Lanka to visit.
They thanked us profusely and then got back on the elevators and left.
I’ll likely never see them again. But I’ll hold on to those business cards. You never know when you might get sent to Tanzania on a story.