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Howard University Professor Returns from Tanzania Tour Focused on Press Freedom

Professor Thomas_Ambassador_battle

WASHINGTON - In a recent journey spanning multiple Tanzanian cities, Howard University communications professor Jennifer Thomas participated in World Press Freedom events, underscoring the vital role journalists play in educating citizens in a democracy.  

From April 27 to May 9, the visit was organized by the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania and the U.S. Department of State, with stops in Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, and Zanzibar. Thomas has been an associate professor in the Cathy Hughes School of Communications since 2013. She serves as coordinator of the journalism sequence in the Department of Media, Journalism and Film (MJFC).  The visit included a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania, Michael Battle, a Howard University alumnus. 

Professor Thomas visit to Tanzania

Professor Jennifer Thomas pictured with journalists at The Chanzo Initiative, a media house comprised of young journalists.

Thomas also spoke at national conferences and participated in panels with representatives from UNESCO, the United Nations, women’s rights organizations, and students.  The discussions centered on press freedom, journalist safety, and fair election coverage. They also addressed issues related to advancing a democratic press within the region.  

Thomas, a former CNN executive and veteran news producer, is particularly concerned about the representation of Africans and the African continent in both academic and media spaces. Thomas noted the importance of conducting conversations in Tanzania about her work with Howard communications students.  

"The discussions we had about press freedom, the safety of journalists, and fair election coverage are all crucial topics that we focus on in MJFC," she said.  “The visit underscored the continuous need for international dialogue and cooperation in this field.” 

Thomas said a September 2023 trip to Lithuania provided further exploration into the global state of press freedom. While there, she met with Russian dissident journalists and Belarusian journalists in exile. She said the recent visits underscored the importance of a healthy media environment and its role in maintaining a resilient democracy. 

Top photo: Professor Thomas pictured with U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania Michael Battle, a Howard  alumnus.