On February 14-17, we had the privilege to welcome to Bulgaria Miranda Spivack, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism at DePauw University, under the Fulbright inter-country travel grant. A veteran and award-winning journalist who formerly worked for the Washington Post, Spivack has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to work in North Macedonia during the spring semester. She was invited to come to Bulgaria for meetings, lectures, and workshops, and was hosted by the Association of European Journalists, and the American University in Bulgaria.
For the Association of European Journalists, Miranda Spivack conducted a workshop entitled “Translating Data into Stories”. It offered tips for looking through data to find information that can help inform journalists’ work. By looking at different datasets journalists can bring to life dry documents and data to help inform readers and make governments and businesses accountable to the public. During the workshop participants learned how to gain access to public data and discussed the benefits of Freedom of Information Act legislation as well as different ways to visualize big data. Spivack also stressed the importance of verifying information and sources, including official data sets and statistics. Some of the participants shared their experience working with data in Bulgaria.
At the American University, Spivack did a guest lecture for Journalism students who have been studying the foundations of journalism, the ethics of strategic communication, and how conflicting loyalties can pose ethical and legal problems. She also took part in the “English for Journalists” program, which is a series of weekly seminars aimed at improving the English language skills of Bulgarian journalists to facilitate better access to news sources and information for them. In addition to the English Language learning, the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications at AUBG organizes talks from faculty and other speakers on a range of issues. The cohort was a group of about 30 journalists, some of whom have 30 odd years experience in investigative journalism while others are younger and starting out in their careers.
The visit of Miranda Spivack is another successful example how educational institutions from Bulgaria can request guest lectures from a Fulbright Scholar based in another country, and how the Intercountry Lecturing Program allows U.S. scholars in Europe to enrich their professional and cultural experience outside their country of assignment.
Photo credit: Zdravko Yonchev