Foreign journalists spending time at Democrat

On April 22, two journalists from halfway across the world walked into the newsroom of the Tallahassee Democrat.

Ofelya Kamavosyan and Mehmet Fatih Oztarsu, both first-time visitors to the United States, are here for three weeks through the International Center for Journalist’s program, New Media, New Challenges: Turkish-Armenian-American Journalist Exchange Program.

Kamavosyan, who hails from Armenia, and Oztarsu, who is from Turkey, will be working as reporters at the Democrat.

ICFJ’s program aims to develop professional skills and relationships between media professionals that will foster understanding, effective communication and collaboration between the three countries.

Kamavosyan and Oztarsu are hosted by Democrat staff for the duration of their stay, and at the end of three weeks their hosts will go to conferences in Turkey and Armenia to watch Kamavosyan and Oztarsu present on what they have learned. They are also working on a joint project for their presentation. Kamavosyan and Oztarsu are two out of 12 who were paired to participate in the program.

Executive Editor Bob Gabordi said he is glad to have the Democrat participating in this partnership.

“We’ve had a long-standing relationship with ICFJ and have hosted journalists through the years from several former Soviet republics and Africa,” he said. “And now this is among the more interesting situations: two journalists from neighboring nations with a long history of distrust are here working together as a team.

“Their countries share a border that is closed to each other, and they have not had normal diplomatic relations for a very long time. Through their shared journalism and mutual respect, perhaps Mehmet and Ofelya can inspire progress. If we can be helpful by providing a common working environment, we are glad to do so.”

Ofelya Kamavosyan

I am an Armenian journalist working for the online daily I also have worked for the daily Hayastani Hanrapetutyun (Republic of Armenia) for six years.

I have a bachelor’s in International Relations from Yerevan State University and a master’s in political science from Public Administration Academy of Armenia.

I previously worked at Armenpress News Agency as a correspondent. I cover both political and legal issues and events in Armenia.

I am 30 years old and this is my first time in the United States. During my first week with the Tallahassee Democrat, I have been impressed by the professional approach of the news staff and the extensive technical equipment available to the staff here.

This program is a good opportunity for us to learn how the American media operate, what are the differences and difficulties of our colleagues’ work. Everything is new for me here: the lifestyle, people, culture, nature and even English.

Mehmet Fatih Oztarsu

I am from Malatya, Turkey. I graduated from Baku Caucasus University with a focus on International Relations. I live in Yerevan and cover international politics for Turkish and Armenian media outlets.

I’m a co-author of “Nagorno Karabakh Conflict for 100 Questions,” an academic book for Qafqaz University. I have written another book, “Armenian Chronicles,” about my observations as a Turkish journalist working in Armenia. I am one of few Turks living in Armenia.

I am 25 years old and this is also my first time in the United States. It is a good experience for me. The style of journalism here, especially the business ethics, is very different from what I grew up with in Turkey.

I have found some Armenian people in Tallahassee and look forward to adding their observations to my book, “Armenian Chronicles.” It is scheduled to be published in the fall.

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