Panel covers international journalism


Elon's School of Communications sponsored a panel discussion titled "Cultural Issues in International Journalism" Sept. 18 in Yeager Recital Hall.

Moderator Brad Hamm led a discussion of the important cultural issues in international journalism and information technology.

The panelists, Loren Burlando, a producer for NBC Dateline International in New York, and Johanna Rautasalo, marketing manager for Nokia Mobile Software in Helsinki, Finland, are Elon alumnae.

Topics covered included mass communication within multicultural/international environments, cultural content influence of the United States, the global village created by communications technology and the importance of international perspectives for university students interested in today's media world.

Both women are strong advocates of an international education.

"Travel is a great learning experience," said Rautasalo, a native of Finland, "but you don't have to travel to learn about different cultures. You can read, listen to music, see art."

Burlando interned as a documentary film assistant at the University of London while she was an Elon student. She said that experience was a turning point in her education.

"I went over there and it changed my life," she explained. "You mature on an adventure like that. You have to navigate. You have to be flexible - you deal with missed trains, for instance, end up in Rome and have to find your way back. That happened to me. You deal with languages and cultural differences."

Rautasalo urged students to immerse themselves in global cultures. "Explore and learn any way you can about other countries," she said. "There is a lot of cross-cultural communication in media and business relationships today. Before you meet someone from another place, learn about the country they're coming from. Be observant and don't assume. Ask. It all adds value - becoming more aware."

She also encouraged students to read a daily newspaper. "It's the one thing I wish I had done as a student," she said. "I start my mornings in Helsinki with the newspaper. If I didn't read it, I would have no world view - only my narrow knowledge of what I personally experience. I read and I realize there are many problems. It's a daily way to put life in perspective."

The women both had transition jobs before they were able to attain their career goals. Rautasalo worked for a year at Duke University's International House before she found her ideal international corporate communications position with Nokia.

Burlando worked in several low-respect or low-pay positions, including NBC's "page" program in New York, immediately after graduation from Elon. "You wear hot, polyester suits, give tours of the studios and make no money, but it's a foot in the door," she said of the page program that built her connections at NBC. "It allows you to network and let people see your smiling face, your energy and your ability." After eight months as a page, she moved up to her current position as a producer working behind the scenes for anchorman Stone Phillips and others at "Dateline."

Phillips cut a tape for Burlando that was aired at the event. In it he urged Elon students to "ask Loren some tough questions." After the panel discussion, dozens of students crowded the front of the hall, lined up to ask both Burlando and Rautasalo incisive questions about their work.



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Last Modified:  9/23/02
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