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International Journalism
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IJ Committee

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SPJ's International Journalism Committee Blog
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International Journalism Committee
The International Journalism Committee works to improve and protect international journalism and encourage the free practice of journalism in all countries.

For the purposes of this committee, international journalism is defined as any journalism that involves foreign journalists, that takes place overseas, or that deals with international affairs.

To improve international journalism, the committee will do some or all of the following:

— Write articles about international journalism for Quill.
— Put together a panel on a topic related to international journalism at the annual convention.
— Lend assistance to journalists when they ask for our help, both American and foreign, to the extent we are able to do so.
— Create resources of use to international journalists and make them available via the Web, printed guidebooks, or other means to both foreign and American journalists.
— Find ways to bring foreign journalists to the U.S. and American journalists overseas for fellowships, conferences, and other educational purposes.

To protect international journalism, the committee will do some or all of the following:

— Draft press releases and letters on behalf of international journalism or international journalists.
— Lobby Congress in favor of measures that support international journalism.
— Work with other organizations on international projects related to freedom of speech, freedom of information, and similar issues.
— Act as a watchdog on U.S. government agencies that may attempt to restrict international journalism.

Are you interested in serving on the committee? Please contact our committee chairs to find out how you can help.

International Journalism Committee Chair

Ricardo Sandoval
Assistant City Editor
Sacramento Bee
Bio (click to expand) picture Ricardo Sandoval is Assistant City Editor at the Sacramento Bee newspaper. He supervises the paper’s environment, science and regional development teams of reporters. Before joining The Bee, Sandoval was a foreign correspondent, based in Mexico City, for the Dallas Morning News and Knight Ridder Newspapers. Sandoval was born in Mexico and raised in San Diego, California. He graduated with a journalism degree from Humboldt State University in Northern California. His career has spanned three decades and has included award-winning coverage of California agriculture, immigration, the savings and loan scandal and the deregulation of public utility companies. His list of awards includes the Overseas Press Club, the InterAmerican Press Club, the Gerald Loeb prize for business journalism and two honors from the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Sandoval co-authored — with his wife, journalist Susan Ferriss — the biography “The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers Movement” published in 1997 by Harcourt.

Ronnie Lovler, vice chair
Bio (click to expand) picture Ronnie Lovler is associate director of the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism at San Francisco State University. She is also senior writer for the nonprofit, and its public-interest news service, “News You Might Have Missed”. In addition to serving as international committee chair, Ronnie is a member of the executive board of the northern California chapter of SPJ. Ronnie taught journalism at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida before moving to San Francisco.

Ronnie’s journalism career spans several decades. She served as bureau chief and correspondent for CNN in Latin America for almost 10 years. During her time at CNN, she reported from every country in Latin America. She also worked for CBS News, The Weather Channel and The Associated Press, as well as The San Juan Star in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She was part of a team of observers headed by President Jimmy Carter monitoring electoral processes in Nicaragua (2001) and Venezuela (2004). During the 2005 U.S. hurricane season, Ms. Lovler worked with the American Red Cross as a volunteer crisis communicator and public information officer. She received her undergraduate degree from Ohio State University and her graduate degree in communications at the University of Florida.

Home > International Journalism > FAQ

International Journalism
International Journalism FAQ

Q: Do I need a visa to come to the United States if I'm a European journalist and only staying for a few days?

Q: I am an Italian journalist. I would like to know if in your country journalists are allowed to access monuments, museums and other attractions with free or discounted tickets.

Q: I'm a freelancer. What happens if I'm killed or wounded while on assignment overseas?

Q: I'm going into a warzone. Should I bring a gun for self-protection?

Q: Do I need a visa to come to the United States if I'm a European journalist and only staying for a few days?

A: Yes. All journalists visiting the US for reasons related to journalism, even for short stays and from friendly countries, are required to obtain visas before coming here. The SPJ is currently working to extend the Visa Waiver Program, which applies to visiting tourists and businesspeople, to include journalists as well.


Q: I am an Italian journalist. I work for some newspapers in Italy and also as a freelance. I have planned a trip in U.S. Probably I will collect some material for a future reportage. I would like to know if in your country journalists are allowed to access monuments, museums and other attractions with free or discounted tickets. Obviously I have a Professional Card released by the Italian “Ordine Nazionale dei Giornalisti”, our professional association.

Answer: As a general rule, journalists do not get any special access to tourist destinations, and there is no national journalism accreditation.

There are two exceptions:

1. If you're covering a story that takes place inside an attraction. For example, when the Associated Press sent me out to a local amusement park where some people were injured on a ride, I called the manager, who met me at a rear entrance and took me to see the ride that had the problem. I asked him questions, and talked to a couple of riders, then left to file the story.

2. If you're a travel writer and the owners or managers of a particular attraction want to see a good article in your publication, they may give you complementary tickets. In this case, travel writers contact the owners or managers ahead of time, explain what their publication is (possibly send copies) and explain that they have an assignment to write about their attraction. Usually, a letter of assignment is required, or at least a good track record of writing and publishing similar articles.

In both cases, however, the journalists would be acting as journalists — interviewing people, taking notes, gathering background information, and so on.

There are other ways to get discounts while traveling. Many organizations, such as AAA (American Automobile Association) and the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) get volume discounts for their members. The Society of Professional Journalists, as well, offers discounts on such services as car rental. See this page for more details.


Q: I'm a freelancer. What happens if I'm killed or wounded while on assignment overseas?

A: Some countries, such as Lebanon, require the purchase of special insurance before getting accreditation as a journalist. In other cases, local military officials, aid organizations, or your country's embassy may work to get you or your body out and back home. Many freelancers going into conflict situations cross their fingers and hope for the best.

A lightly saner alternative — the sanest, of course, would be to stay out of places where you're likely to get killed or wounded — is to buy emergency medical evacuation and repatriation insurance.

It can be hard to find an insurance company that looks kindly on people going into war zones, but they do exist. Aid organizations, for example, are frequent customers, as are missionaries.

The SPJ does not endorse any particular company's coverage, but here are some places to start:

Reporters Without Borders
Safe Passage International
International Risk Management
Specialty Risk International
International Medical Group

If you or your organization can't afford coverage, you might want to reconsider the trip. Also see our war journalism resources page.


Q: I'm going into a warzone. Should I bring a gun for self-protection?

A: Absolutely not, says combat photographer Sallie Shatz. If you are stopped and you have a firearm, you've just turned a tenuous situation into a hostile one. "What are you going to do, shoot your way out of the country?" she asks. Carrying firearms can compromise your role as a journalist, or can make it seem as if you are compromised. A better alternative is to carry plenty of paper with official stamps. If the pen is mightier than the sword, then a good stamped document is mightier than a bullet.


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