“So, why are you here?” asked John Ullmann, a renowned former editor at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. Walking around the classroom in his hooded top, with a frown on his face and an angry look, he was summing up all our answers with the same phrase: “Not good enough.”
His love-it-or-hate-it performance was meant to provoke and make us think about what kind of journalism we want to do, what standards we keep, what we want to achieve. One of the best things about this fellowship is that it gives you this kind of inspiration – and time to think it over without constant deadlines and editors over your head.
However, the program also provides another important opportunity: access to high-profile experts in law, immigration, environmental issues or nuclear safety. This enables us to file stories with a news angle after the meetings. And it is equally important.
Here is a short summary of the stories I have so far filed for „Gazeta Wyborcza", the largest quality newspaper in Poland, which also happens to be my employer:
A report from Minneapolis one month after the killing of Justine Ruszczyk, the 40-year old Australian woman shot by Minneapolis Police Officer Mohammed Noor. Quotes from citizens, Minnesota Public Radio journalist Euan Kerr and agency sources.
A review of American First Amendment law, pointing out the most important exceptions to it, like incitement or fighting words, in the context of events in Charlottesville, Va. It quoted remarks from Mark Anfinson, a Minneapolis lawyer, and Mark Neuzil, a journalism lecturer at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, whom we met in the first week of seminars. The article turned out to be quite interesting, because in Poland, like in many other European countries, neo-Nazis would not be allowed to wave their swastika flags due to strong regulations on hate speech.
A story on Michael O’Donnell’s research on President Trump’s tweets. O’Donnell – the head of the Journalism and Communication Department at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul – was following and analyzing all @realDonaldTrump’s tweets between June 8 and August 8 this year.
A front-page story about how employees of the State Department are struggling with the inconsistency of foreign policy under Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the president’s tweet rants, and unfilled positions at the senior level. Based on one-to-one interviews with former diplomats Mary Curtin and Tom Hanson.
A full interview with Mary Curtin in the Q&A format. Published in the weekend edition.