The U.S. Ambassador Spoke about Challenges Facing the Re-elected President Obama and the Importance of Journalists
On November 9, two months after his appointment to office, Jeffrey D. Levine, the new U.S. Ambassador to Estonia, visited Tartu and the University of Tartu. During the meeting, he discussed co-operation between the U.S. and Estonia and spoke to journalism students about the freedom of press and speech and about the work of journalists in general.
The Ambassador had a tight schedule. He was greeted on his first visit to Tartu by the Mayor, Urmas Kruuse. At the University of Tartu, the Ambassador was greeted by the Rector, Professors Volli Kalm and Halliki Harro-Loit, a professor from the Institute of Journalism and Communication, and journalism students. During his visit, the Ambassador also visited the UT Library and the Center for North American Studies.
The Rector and the Ambassador spoke about the position the University of Tartu holds in the Estonian higher education landscape, and offered positive opinions about sustainable co-operation between UT and the U.S. The Ambassador was impressed with collaboration thus far, characterising the relationship between the two countries as stabile, mature and co-operative.
As a former journalist and one of the founders of USA TODAY, a major American newspaper, the Ambassador was interested in meeting professors and students from the Institute of Journalism and Communication, as it offers journalism education. In his meeting with students, the Ambassador talked about recent presidential election in the U.S. and challenges in foreign relations facing the newly re-elected President. While discussing the campaigns which ended up being too expensive, the Ambassador called attention to four challenges the President needs to confront during his new term of office: election of a new Secretary of State to replace Hillary Clinton, and relationships with Russia, Afganistan and Iran.
After his speech about the election was over, the Ambassador discussed freedom of speech and press. Levine stressed that the existence of a press is one of the pillars of democratic society, as it helps open communication between different sides. The Ambassador emphasised the role of objective enquiry that journalism plays in the midst of online channels and varying opinions, and the need for professional journalists in an open society. In acknowledging the abundance of online channels, the Ambassador also discussed the questionable fate of printed media.
In the end, Levine still saw the future of journalism in a positive light, highlighting both journalism training and journalists’ everyday work as vital to the society.