Feb. 5, 2004

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Contact: Alison Watkins, Graduate School & International Programs, (785) 864-6161.

Officers from 77 countries to visit KU for First Amendment program Feb. 11

LAWRENCE -- International officers attending the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth will visit the University of Kansas on Feb. 11 as part of the U.S. Army's International Officer Information Program.

Eighty-nine military officers from 77 countries will participate in a daylong program at the Kansas Union beginning at 8:45 a.m., exploring the First Amendment and the role of a free media in a democracy. Faculty from KU's William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications will present an overview of American media and offer advice for working with reporters. The officers also will participate in a mock press conference with KU journalism students facilitated by program coordinators Thomas Volek, associate professor of journalism, and Robert Basow, associate professor of journalism.

Two former military officers who work in the private sector also will brief the officers. George Norton, an independent public relations consultant in Topeka, was the principal public affairs adviser for the U.S. Command, Berlin, and Allied Staff during the fall of the Berlin Wall and German unification. Dick Lipsey, a reporter with the Associated Press in Kansas City, Mo., was attached to the KU ROTC program at the end of his 20-year military career. Both have master's degrees from KU.

"It is critical that we share with all of our potential coalition partners the role that the U.S. media play in reporting and shaping public opinion in our country -- and educate ourselves on the function media play in their diverse societies," said Lt. Col. Jim Fain, chief of the International Officer Student Division. "We see our visit to the KU School of Journalism as a terrific opportunity to advance a mutual understanding between the U.S. Army and the armies of 77 nations in an important and dynamic area that will play out on future battlefields and in the global war on terror."

In its seventh year, the First Amendment program at KU is coordinated by the Office of International Programs and is presented by the journalism faculty.

"We are fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Fort Leavenworth on this project and bring a world perspective to our faculty and students," said Diana Carlin, dean of the graduate school and international programs. "Military officers from around the world will gain a better understanding of how the media work in the U.S., will share with our students and faculty their own country's media practices, and will have an opportunity to improve communication skills for their current and future positions."

The International Officer Information Program is designed to introduce the officers to varied aspects of American life during their yearlong stay in the United States. Their visits include government, business and military facilities as well as academic institutions. International officers have attended the Army Command and General Staff College, the Army's senior tactical school, since 1894.

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