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WSU hosts Balkan student journalists for program on free press

Closeup of SUSI students in front of the Space Needle.
SUSI students in front of the Space Needle.

Washington State University is hosting a delegation of 14 student journalists from the Balkans. The three-week program began June 18. 

The Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) on Journalism and Media is part of a U.S. Department of State program designed to help foster greater international understanding of the importance of free speech and a free press.

“WSU’s participation in the SUSI program provides foundational journalistic ethics and tradecraft for students from countries across Eastern Europe who are pursuing careers in media and journalism. They will build lasting relationships with each other, as well as students and journalists here in the US, helping build a global community of professionals dedicated to truth and reliability in reporting,” said Paul Whitney, associate vice president for international programs.

SUSI Students at the Seattle times

Nevena Ivanovic, a journalism and media student from Krusevac, Serbia, said she hopes the program will help her expand her global mindset when it comes to reporting. She has a desire to learn new practices in digital communication which aligns well with the expertise of WSU faculty and staff.  

That expertise was key in the university’s selection for the three-year, $210,000 per year federal grant, initially awarded in 2019. SUSI is funded by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is administered by FHI 360, a nonprofit organization with offices in Washington, D.C.

A complete, six-week program was held in Pullman in 2019. Due to the persisting COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 program was canceled and the academic portion of the 2021 program was held online. Last summer, students engaged in a four-week virtual program that included leadership development, volunteer activities, cultural interactions, instruction, and active educational opportunities related to a range of subjects. Topics included: first amendment rights, technology’s impact on journalism, editorial independence, journalistic ethics, legal constraints, civic and investigative journalism, and digital and social media.

This summer, the 2021 program continues in-person. Student journalists will experience the Pacific Northwest through cultural and educational activities and community service. Activities include visits to regional news outlets including the Seattle Times and Spokesman-Review, academic classes with experts including faculty in the Murrow College of Communication at WSU, community service with local nonprofits, and cultural experiences such as attending a Seattle Mariners game, touring the Nez Perce National Historical Park, and experiencing the Fourth of July with the Johnson parade and fireworks at Sunnyside Park in Pullman. 

Egzon Musa places pin on a map

At the end of this program, student journalists will present a reporting project that shares their perspective on the program. 

“It is an honor to host these students on our campus. As a Pullman native, I take a lot of pride in making their stay on the Palouse unforgettable. Hopefully our students will leave here as Cougs for life and feeling richer for having experienced a beautiful part of the world they might never have heard of otherwise.” said Shane Johnson, SUSI WSU program manager. 

Cultural and educational arrangements for the delegation’s visit are managed by the Office of International Programs as part of its on-going mission to highlight WSU expertise globally and bring visitors to WSU who can help our students and community experience other cultures and points of view. 

To find out more about the program visit

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