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Release: August 12, 1999

Mongolian journalists, political leaders visit Iowa City Aug. 16-18

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Six Mongolian journalists and two members of parliament will visit the University of Iowa and Iowa City Aug. 16-18 to learn more about anti-corruption efforts in this country and practical ways in which journalists can help to promote such efforts in Mongolia.

The Council for International Visitors to Iowa Cities (CIVIC) is hosting the eastern Iowa portion of the group's trip to the United States, with program arrangements made by the Meridian International Center, a non-governmental organization.

As did almost every former communist regime, the northern Asian country of Mongolia underwent a fundamental political revolution with the collapse of the Soviet Union. In early 1990 Mongolia underwent its own relatively peaceful democratic revolution, which included legalization of multiple and opposing political parties, a dramatically rewritten constitution, a set of free and relatively fair legislative and presidential elections, opening of the market economy, and freedom of the press.

These Mongolian visitors will examine the experience of government officials and the role of journalists in promoting anti-corruption activities. They are specifically interested in learning about gaining journalistic access to government information to pursue successful investigative reporting on corruption; developing an understanding of the journalistic ethics that should govern investigative reporting on corruption issues to make sure that it is fair and balanced; and learning how to utilize the news media to generate thoughtful and productive public dialogue on corruption and its impact on the country's economy and society.

Members of the group include: Tsendendorj Dashdondov, president of the Mongolian Free Democratic Journalist's Association; Tsend Enkhbat, managing director of the Mongolian Press Institute; Tumor-Ochir Erdenebileg, member of the Great Hural (Parliament); Baasanjav Gandbold, editor-in-chief of the Zunny Medee (News of the Century); Tsogsuren Ganbold, head of "MM" Television Agency (Government National News Agency); Tugsjargal Gandi, member, Great Hural (Parliament); Dr. Baaran Purevdash, editor-in-chief, Onooder newspaper; and Baymbajav Tsenddoo, sub-editor, Oriin Sonin (Daily News.) They will be accompanied by one English language escort and two escort-interpreters.

Tom Baldridge, CIVIC executive director, has arranged for the group to meet with some of the following: editors and reporters from the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Iowa City Press-Citizen; local television stations; Stephen Atkins, city manager, Iowa City; UI Sociology Professor Jae-On Kim, director of the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies (CAPS); Jeffrey Smith, professor of journalism and mass communications; and Ken Starck, professor of journalism and mass communication, and Gazette Company ombudsman. The group will also have dinner at the home of Doris Houser in Iowa City.

CIVIC is a community organization of volunteers serving and hosting international visitors as a means to promote international understanding on a person-to-person basis. It is one of two such organizations in Iowa that accommodates the U.S. Information Agency's International Visitor Program (IVP). IVP is a professional exchange program administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Information Agency.

Interviews with the visitors can be arranged. Several of them have proficient English and the others have interpreters. For more information or a complete itinerary, call Tom Baldridge, CIVIC executive director, at 335-0351.