From Sunday to Sunday: 7 Days, 18 Scholars, Dozens of Experiences

The scholars on the sidelines of the Phoenix Suns basketball cout

Do you remember when we shook hands, exchanged greetings and shyly smiled to each other as Rakib wrote in the first SUSI 2023 blog? It has been one week since then, and we have got plenty of reasons to forget those beginnings. 

Not because it wasn`t a memorable moment, but because we were complete strangers back then. Now? After one week? We do not have a problem tasting food from someone else’s plate or even borrowing money. We have found friends in a foreign world who became our new social support in temporary homes somewhere between Taylor Mall and Taylor Street in Downtown Phoenix.

That first experience with complete strangers on the street have been displaced by tens of hours spent together during lectures, conversations, eating, shopping, traveling and discovering new experiences not only from life in Phoenix, Arizona or USA, but also from the world of media, journalism, communication in a country where we have the chance to be temporary scholars for six weeks. 

A group selfie of scholars sitting around a local restaurant table
A group of Scholars share a meal and build friendship in Phoenix (clockwise from the bottom: Mariana (Ukraine), Peter (Slovakia), Rakib (Bangladesh), Anida (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Alejandro (Costa Rica), Elira (Kyrgyzstan), Carmem (Brazil). Photo by Peter Kravcak

We are still almost at the beginning of the program but despite that fact, there is already so much to evaluate. The teaching hospital model presented by Dr. Marianne Barrett. Experiencing the Cronkite News broadcast presented by managing director Allysa Adams and Executive Editor Christina Leonard. Public relations and social affairs working at a student agency led by John Nicoletti. As well as thinking about our own projects that we would like to implement during our study stay at Arizona State University (ASU), and transferring as much as it is possible to improve the conditions of our countries and circumstances of our workplaces. 

Scholars line the hallway outside the Cronkite News control room while Executive Editor Christina Leonard explains the process to them
Scholars in the observation corridor of Cronkite News during the broadcast, interviewing Executive Editor Christina Leonard. Photo by Peter Kravcak

I will leave all of the above aside (anyway my fellow scholars mentioned these things in their blogs), and omit for now the support and care that Dawn and Amy give us daily. I will also skip the warm welcome reception, where we had the opportunity to meet the member of the Arizona House and candidate for US Congress, Dr. Amish Shah. And, of course I won`t repeat the story written by Tirse about our very brief but still memorable trip to northern Arizona, culminating in the famous Grand Canyon.

A panoramic view of the Grand Canyon
The amazing Grand Canyon. Photo by Peter Kravcak

For a brief moment, I would like to draw the reader’s attention to two moments in our first week as 2023 SUSI Scholars:

First: The unique opportunity to visit regional KPNX channel 12, affiliate of the U.S. national NBC television network. As a journalist who grew up in regional television, I could imagine during the interview days and weeks of working with Director of Digital Content Mr. Judd Slivka. Working conditions, cooperating with national broadcasters, the creative possibilities in the studio but also outside it – we cannot compare ourselves at home at the regional level. Regional television here works like our national television. Even so, it was gratifying to hear that journalistic problems are the same everywhere in the world. Even in Phoenix, they cannot cover all the topics that daily events bring them, because of long distances and not always a sufficient number of editors.

The second moment seems to have come straight from our European regional journalism realities. 

The scholars stand in the kitchen show area of the KPNX studios in Phoenix
The Scholars interviewed Digital Content Director Mr. Judd Slivka at the KPNX Channel 12 studio. Photo by Carmem Petit

Second: “…Controversies, which is what media like to cover. My opinion is that basketball media has a lot of work to do. The quality of journalism has gone down; it’s not what it used to be just a few years ago. The model now is just about headlines, because people will click on the article. Serious reporting is backsliding,” said Mr. Palmer Black from the Media Office of the NBA team the Phoenix Suns. This was during our thrilling visit to the Footprint Center, home of Phoenix’s professional basketball teams: the men’s Suns (2021 NBA finalists) and the women’s Mercury (2007, 2009 and 2014 WNBA winners and 2021 finalists). 

I have nothing more to add, I am just agreeing with Mr. Palmer`s statement. In Slovakia, we have the same problem with the quality of journalism and fragmented attention by the audience–and not only in sports. Scholars from the other 17 countries will probably agree. We discovered during the first week that there are quite a lot of intersections across the common topics, interests and problems of our media, journalism and society.

The Scholars sit in the press box at the Footprint Center, home to professional basketball in Phoenix
SUSI Scholars at Footprint center interviewed Mr. Palmer Black (left) about media and Phoenix basketball. Photo by Peter Kravcak

That is the point. 

We are here to observe and learn what is going on in media, communication and journalism in U.S. Maybe take home some examples of good practice that we can apply. But perhaps we are also here in order to use our friendship, which we have acquired so far and will certainly deepen in the coming weeks, professionally and academically, and put together an international research team that will find one of the many discussed topics and prepare media research (maybe even from 18 countries 😊) to help the idea of journalism, technology and democracy to develop well in our home countries.