Spectrum Spectrum features conversations with an eclectic group of fascinating people, some are famous and some are not, but they all have captivating stories.
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Spectrum features conversations with an eclectic group of fascinating people, some are famous and some are not, but they all have captivating stories.More from Spectrum »

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Newest African Country S. Sudan, in Chaos, Loses Journalist to USA

This is a personal story...the story of journalist Colin Lasu...a son of South Sudan, Africa's newest country. Because of the chaos since its independence in 2011 and a Civil War beginning in 2013, over 1 million refugees have fled to neighboring Uganda and Ethiopia and over 200,000 have fled to other countries. Lasu, a journalist in his home country, came back to America and received asylum here. He proved to the U.S. government that he would probably be killed if he had to return to South Sudan so the U.S. has allowed him to stay indefinitely. Meanwhile, this seasoned journalist has obtained his master's degree and now is studying for his doctoral degree. He talks with SPECTRUM about his life in his home country and the chaos that ensued after independence. He also talks about his projects to train average S. Sudanese residents to become fearless radio reporters. At one time, Lasu created a certificate program with the University of Juba and created the Sudan Radio Service. For two years, he helped non-journalists become reporters, mouthpieces of local news from their particular region. They were taught by Lasu to talk with just "ordinary" people to get stories and reactions and not just public or governmental officials. The radio stations became quite populist. The radio stations were very popular and Lasu trained a great number of people. However, the stations were deemed too independent by the government and a threat. Lasu became at odds with his home country's government and he escaped to America. Now, Lasu is studying conflict transformation, peaceful coexistence, media coverage, good governance and empowerment of disadvantaged groups.

Virtual Reality News is Here and More is Coming says VR Expert

USA Today, in partnership with YouTube, delivers a weekly virtual reality newscast called VRtually There, produced by VR veteran Robert Padavik. It is the first native VR series, says Padavik and it produces three feature stories a week. Although VR is in its infancy, Padavik claims that watching something in VR is like having a movie theater on your face. The experience is totally immersive and like no other. Consumers can experience stories...not just hear them or see them. He thinks that VR is the news delivery vehicle of the future and it is now in its experimental and developmental stages. But, he thinks it will become mainstream soon. Even though the visuals are the base of VR, Padavik claims that sound is equally important and spatial audio is complicated to capture and deliver. It also is in its developmental stage. In creating VR new products that must be captured, produced, monetized and delivered to consumers, Padavick says he feels like a "pioneer." He also claims that "writing" is still the foundation of storytelling and that great writing is equally important in VR stories. Padavick is not a newcomer to the news business. Before landing with USA Today's VR team, Padavik had experience with both CNN and NBC. He is a firm believer that the public will demand more and more experiential news and feature stories.

NPR Serves the General Public and Millennials Says Reporter & Former Producer

Laurel Wamsley, a young but veteran reporter and producer at National Public Radio (NPR), says she loves working there because she feels the NPR is truly serving the public. She also knows that NPR has made a concerted effort to attract a younger millennial audience and to broaden its base. Wamsley is in her second stint at the radio giant. She has served as both a "producer" and a "reporter." She shares with us that there are two kinds of producers at NPR...show producers who work on a particular program like Morning Edition or All Things Considered and there are desk producers who work on particular topics such as politics, national desk, international, science and education. A producer finds guests, books the guests, arranges for studio time or field logistics and edits interviews to fit the time slot needed. She said often 20 minute interviews need to be reduced to six minutes or less. That editing responsibility falls on the producer and not the reporter. Currently, Wamsley is writing "breaking news" for NPR and for their digital product "Two-Way." She rarely knows what she will cover on any given day and usually produces two to three different stories every work day. She says she likes the variety and it is a challenge to learn to report on and write the stories quickly. Sometimes a story, such as one such did on Amelia Earhart will get her an additional interview with one of the hosts of All Things Considered or Morning Edition. Wamsley also has been involved with the explosive popularity of NPR's podcasts. She previously produced NPR's wildly popular Politics Podcast. She says that NPR's podcasts plus the emphasis NPR has on its NPR Music products definitely attracts a younger audience. She notes that young people who are attracted to NPR Music may not be equally attracted to NPR News but there is more and more crossover. Wamsley is a native of Athens, Ohio, the home of Ohio University, but she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. To date, she has worked in Washington D.C.; Austin, Texas, and Chicago. One of her passions is "urban life" and she calls herself an "urbanist." She studies urban sustainability and urban self-sufficiency.

NPR Serves the General Public and Millennials Says Reporter & Former Producer

Love It or Hate It: The Trump Presidency is Like No Other, Says USA Today Journo

Never before have we had a President that spoke his mind almost daily to the American people. Like it or hate it, President Trump, through his use of social media, broadcasts across the globe his likes, dislikes, and policy thoughts. He is unedited. While President Obama was closed, guarded and cautious, Pres. Trump says what he thinks or feels regardless of the consequences. Some argue, this makes him the most accessible and transparent President ever, while others claim his behavior reflects a dangerous, almost-cavalier approach to Presidential communications. The contrast between Trump and Obama is significant for those assigned to cover the White House like Gregory Korte of USA Today. This veteran, award-winning journalist covered both administrations and he tells Spectrum of the differences between the two approaches. Korte not only covers the White House but he accompanied President Trump on his nine-day trip through the Middle-East and parts of Europe and his most recent trip to the G-20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany. When on foreign trips, Obama attempted to connect with the people and speak about ideals of democracy, Korte says. Trump, however, prefers bilateral meetings with foreign leaders, in secret and on the fringes of the regular meetings. He likes to meet one-on-one with foreign leaders and exercise the "Art of the Deal," according to Korte. It is too early to determine what the nature of Trump's foreign policy exactly is but Korte says the primary objective is to defeat ISIS and to exercise military strength around the globe. Korte also notes major differences in the way Trump treats cabinet members such as Rex Tillerson compared to the way Obama would work with cabinet members. Many believe Tillerson is about to resign this early in the President's term because he is being undermined by the President and his public disclosures. Korte says, in covering the White House, he tries to stay away from the "palace intrigue" of who has power and who is about to be fired. Instead, he tries to dig out the daily news nuggets from the chaff of distractions. He admits that some days that job is particularly difficult. Besides covering the White House, Korte has acted as a visiting professional — teaching at the E. W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University—his alma mater.

Love It or Hate It: The Trump Presidency is Like No Other, Says USA Today Journo

Graham Nash: How To Be Socially Conscious in 2017

Graham Nash is a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who created pioneering British pop-rock outfit The Hollies with childhood friend Allan Clarke in his late teens and was a featured initial in Crosby, Stills, and Nash. He continues to be socially and politically active well into his older years. Last year he released his first solo project in 14 years, "This Path Tonight," crafted with the assistance of longtime collaborator Shane Fontayne. Nash refers to himself as a writer, and his ability to master expression with the written (and sung) word is showcased on the lean, 10-song release. Earlier this year Nash announced that he would be going on tour in support of the album this summer, giving fans across the U.S. a chance to take part in his spirited and career-spanning live shows. Spectrum's Emily Votaw spoke with Nash about his feelings on the 2016 Presidential election, what he feels all artists should be doing as a result of it, and what it means to be a hippie in 2017.

Cyber Attacks are Part of Putin's Overall Arsenal says Russia Expert

What Russia may lack in modern traditional military assets, it more than compensates through its ability to wage tactical cyberattacks and ultimately the potential for cyberwarfare. That's the opinion of Dr. Steven Miner, professor and Director of the Contemporary History Institute at Ohio University. Russia's military hardware is deteriorating and the Russian economy is not strong under its leader Vladimir Putin. So, Russia is opting for committing cyber terrorism to advance its positions in the world. These attacks, which can be done cheaply, have become pervasive by Russia throughout Europe, the countries bordering Russia and even in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, Dr. Miner says. They are not new. One of the Russian objectives is to "make trouble" and to discredit the authenticity of democratic electoral systems...leading people to think that elections, for example, are "rigged." He feels that the cyber interference in the American election was sparked more by a hatred of Sec. of State Hillary Clinton by Putin than any love for Donald Trump. Dr. Miner gives a brief explanation of the rise to power of Putin and Putin's "cynical" philosophy relating to governments and power. Putin's world view was formed during his early days with Russian Intelligence, the KGB. Dr. Miner also explains how the current hostile feelings between American and Russia are different than those that existed in the Cold War. "We are not in Cold War – Part 2," Dr. Miner says. The relationships between the countries are now far more complex than in earlier Cold War days. Dr. Miner is one of the world's foremost authorities on Russian/Soviet and East European history. He just completed writing a book that is awaiting publication by Simon and Schuster, titled – The Furies Unleashed: The Soviet People at War, 1941-1945.

Coal Mining Jobs Will Not Return Despite Pres. Trump's Claims: Expert Says

President Donald Trump states that his actions through Executive Orders will bring coal mining jobs back to America. Jonathan Norris, researcher and engineer, says that is not likely to happen. Mining jobs have been on a steady decline since the 1980's, according to Norris. The main reason is that natural gas has become a much cheaper way to run power plants to produce electricity. So, even if the President eases carbon emission standards, it will not bring back mining. Coal is a more expensive way to produce electricity. So mines will not come back unless the economy allows them too, Norris says. Norris' research interests include energy policy, innovation systems, and the transition of small Appalachian communities from being coal bases to being economically diverse. A native of the coal fields of Ohio, Norris describes the boom or bust history of extractive industries in his home region. He says that when coal jobs disappeared that many small communities had no other economic base. The poverty that follows hones a type of fatalistic thinking among residents. Crime increases and drug and alcohol addiction skyrockets. Southern Ohio, Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia have the highest rates of opioid addiction in the country, Norris says. Some efforts are being made to retrain former miners for other jobs but many of those programs rely on federal money from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). However, the ARC has been "zeroed out" in the Trump proposed budget to Congress. If retraining programs and economic diversity programs cannot be funded then hope dims further for the mining communities out of work.

Coal Mining Jobs Will Not Return Despite Pres. Trump's Claims: Expert Says

Immigration Passions Run High as Trump Administration Addresses Issues

Passions can run high with immigration issues. Some Americans embrace immigration and immigrants as being the backbone of the United States. While with others, immigration is seen as problematic and even frightening and a threat to America. Although often we, as Americans, see immigration issues as simplistic black and white issues, but instead, according to Dr. Andrew Selee, we need to take a broader view to immigration and its complexities. We, as a country, need to work on how we can improve our immigration instead of concentrating on how to limit our immigration policies, he says. Dr. Selee is the Executive Vice President of the Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington. On August 1 he will become the President of the Migration Policy Institute, a global policy and research think tank-- also in Washington DC. Dr. Selee's expertise is in immigration with a special emphasis on Mexico and the inter-relationships between Mexico and the United States. Under the Trump Administration enforcement against undocumented residents already is up 37 percent. Selee says this emphasis on enforcement and building a wall appeals only to about 20 to 25 percent of the American public During this period of hyper enforcement, Dr. Selee notes some positive aspects of immigration. About one-third of all new businesses in America are started by immigrants. He also notes that legal immigrants bring to America a higher degree of academic attainment than the average American has. Dr. Selee also says that since 2007, immigration from Mexico to the United States is in decline because the Mexican population is getting older and the country's economy is getting better. Instead, Mexico is facing immigration issues with the influx of people to Mexico from Central America. Dr. Selee notes that the Asia immigration population in America is the most rapidly expanding group with an influx of people from India and China. He discusses the fact that Congress has not been able to adequately address immigration because any proposed plan gets snagged in the details. He also notes that drugs do not come into this country from Mexico through illegal border crossings. Instead, they come in hidden in vehicles through legitimate points of entry. New technology is needed to detect and stop this and not a wall, according to Selee.

Trump's Foreign Policy is "Chaotic, Amorphous and Unprofessional" Says Expert

American foreign policy under the Trump Administration currently is "chaotic, amorphous, and ...unprofessional," according to Ambassador Rueben Brigety, dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. Ambassador Brigety expresses to Spectrum podcast that he is concerned about the huge number of important positions in the State Department that are not yet filled after four months in office. The Trump Administration has not nominated a sufficient number of people for the U.S. Senate to confirm. This leaves foreign policy work undone and sends the wrong message to our allies, according to Brigerty. He believes that there are multiple reasons for these vacancies. He said that the Trump Transition Team was the most "slow and chaotic that we've seen in decades." Therefore, nominations were not ready early in the Administration. He also says that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has decided to "take his time" making these appointments since the Trump administration has called for a 30% budget cut in the State Department which leads to a lay-off of 2,300 State Department workers. The Ambassador calls this 30% cut "outrageous." Finally, Brigerty says the positions are not filled because several potential employees have said "no" to joining this administration. Brigerty asserts that his observations are not partisan in nature and is quick to point out major foreign policy attributes of the Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush administrations. The Ambassador also notes that the Trump administration, to date, has failed to articulate an overall foreign policy. "America First is not a world view," says Brigerty. He claims that it is a slogan that is rather meaningless when confronting major problems or catastrophes on the world's stage. Brigerty also raised some concerns about the Defense Department and the role of the military in making foreign policy decisions. He cites that we come from a long tradition of "civilian control of the military" through the President. He, however, says it is a reasonable question to ask whether currently any civilians in the Trump Administration have an adequate understanding or comprehension of the military in order to make informed decisions. Speaking specifically of Africa, Ambassador Brigerty says that too often America has not taken advantage of the richness of Africa's resources of land, people, and development possibilities. Instead, China has taken over as the major economic player on the African continent and has eclipsed America's meager efforts. Brigerty says that the Trump Administration, to date, has been "quiet on Africa." He provides Spectrum listeners with a guide of what to follow in the future in the areas of foreign policy. He thinks it is important to view how America is relating to its allies, how it handles North Korea, and how the Trump Administration responds to the next big disaster that will require humanitarian efforts. Ambassador Brigety previously served as Representative of the United States to the African Union and was named Permanent Representative of the US to the UN Economic Commission for Africa. He also has served as a Deputy Assist Sec. of State in the Bureau of African Affairs and in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. He also is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Trump's Foreign Policy is "Chaotic, Amorphous and Unprofessional" Says Expert

Leaks & Anonymous Sources Dominate Coverage of Trump/Russia Investigations

During the scramble to be the first and provide the best possible coverage of the ongoing Trump/Russia investigations, credible news organizations have published numerous stories based upon "leaks" from sources who are listed as "anonymous" or described without using their names or titles. Some Administration officials decry "leakers" and infer that they are not credible and chastise news entities for using the information from these unnamed sources. Some officials call stories based on anonymous sources "fake news." Journalists, however, often must rely on these anonymous tips to get the facts and after the stories and sources are completely vetted – the resulting story is anything but "fake news." Often these stories are, in fact, the most reliable types of stories. They must, however, be what Andrew Alexander calls – subject to "prosecutorial editing" – severe editing for fairness, credibility and accuracy. Alexander is a former Washington Post ombudsman, a former Washington Bureau chief for Cox Newspapers and an award winning journalist – in his own right. His media career has spanned more than four decades. He has reported from more than 50 countries and he has directed news coverage both domestically and internationally. He is a member of the board of the American Society of News Editors and has led its Freedom of Information Committee. Alexander also serves on the New York based Committee to Protect Journalists – This group assists journalists worldwide who have been subjected to attacks, arrests and harassment. Today, he helps us understand the use of anonymous sources by journalists, governmental leaks and the ethics and legalities surrounding this controversial method of reporting. Specifically, the use by media of unnamed anonymous sources in ongoing news coverage of the Trump/Russia investigation has been a point of contention and is rampant in it repetitiveness. Alexander helps define for us "off the record" and "not for attribution" and tells us why a reporter or editor might support anonymity of a source. He also thinks it is humorous when Congress and the White House get upset and agitated about "leakers" since many of the leakers work for those complaining entities. He also notes that, to date, the Trump Administration has been waging a "war of words" against reporters but if those words turn into punitive actions with legal consequences, then we will be in a new state of animosity that we have never seen set loose against the media in this country. Alexander equated this possible hostility against the media to be similar to what happens to reporters in Russia, Syria or Turkey.

Leaks & Anonymous Sources Dominate Coverage of Trump/Russia Investigations

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