The group was on a midterm election reporting tour sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Press Centers. Kentucky was a destination because of the close U.S. Senate race between U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Republican, and Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, secretary of state.

            Journalists from Afghanistan’s Nelofar Radio to Vietnam’s VnExpress heard about Kentucky’s social, economic and demographic makeup including information about employment, voter registration and turnout, and redistricting from Matt Ruther, the center director and assistant professor of urban and public affairs, The Kentucky State Data Center, within the College of Arts and Sciences’ Urban Studies Institute, is the state’s clearinghouse for census information.

            “It gives us a good background to see how Kentucky works and how the people think,” said Suzy El-Geneidy, deputy chief editor of Al-Ahram Al-Arabi in Eqypt.

            “I can understand the demographic factors that affect the voting,” she said.

            Journalist Olive Yemima Eyotaru said the overall visit, with its discussions of voting trends, should help in her work at the Daily Monitor newspaper in Kampala, Uganda. Uganda’s next presidential election will be in 2016.

            “Usually in our country we don’t give so much attention to certain (voter) groups like youth or women,” she said. “It has opened my eyes….Where I come from, the middle class doesn’t vote,” although youth and lower classes do.

            “The middle class doesn’t usually care that much; there’s a kind of disenchantment. They think if they vote, it won’t change anything.”

            Eyotaru also was interested in the coal industry’s impact on elections in Kentucky.

            During its Kentucky visit, the group heard from Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at University of Kentucky; Joe Gerth, political writer at The Courier-Journal; and representatives of the Kentucky Democratic Party, Jefferson County Republican Party and League of Women Voters.

            Other stops were Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, where the group will be on Election Day.

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Judy Hughes
Judy Hughes is a communications and marketing specialist for UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing, where she works in media relations and contributes to news about the university’s College of Arts and Sciences and Kent School of Social Work. She previously worked in news as a writer and editor for a daily newspaper and The Associated Press.