Journalist to Speak About Work Protecting Press Freedoms

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Michelle Betz. Courtesy photo.

Michelle Betz, an international journalist and former university professor, will speak about her experiences supporting press freedoms in sub-Saharan Africa as part of a newsmaker luncheon in Hilo on Thursday, March 29, 2018.

Sponsored by the Big Island Press Club, the talk will be held at Coqui’s from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. There is no fee for the event, but attendees are required to purchase their own meal.

Much of Betz’ work has focussed on conflict-sensitive journalism and rapid response work to conflict zones, particularly in Africa. She has worked in more than 20 countries, including Ghana, Nepal, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Iraq, Tunisia, Algeria, Mali, Nigeria, Central African Republic and Ukraine.


Before returning to the U.S. in 2016, Betz was based overseas in Ghana, Egypt, and Austria where she consulted for numerous international NGOs, U.N. agencies and bilateral organizations, including UNESCO, the U.S. State Department, International Media Support, Open Society Institute to name a few.

Among the experiences she’ll be sharing at the March luncheon include being charged and convicted in absentia in Egypt and ongoing crackdowns on press there and elsewhere. She’ll also talk about her recent travels to Africa working on projects in Sierra Leone and Liberia where she worked to support press freedoms in those African nations.

In 2003, Betz was awarded a Knight International Journalism Fellowship and spent four months working with journalists in Rwanda. She was then awarded a second Knight International Press Fellowship in 2005 and spent five months in Morocco training journalists.


An active researcher, she’s authored numerous book chapters and papers, including coauthoring the 2015 UNESCO paper “Building Digital Safety for Journalism.”

Her professional experience includes spending six years teaching journalism at the University of Central Florida, as well as working in Canada producing for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s network television morning news show. She assisted with the coverage of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway and worked in London for Canadian Television. She continues to freelance for media outlets including The Toronto Globe and Mail, CBC Radio, World Vision Report, and has conducted training for National Public Radio’s Next Generation Radio Projects.

Betz has a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada and a Master of Journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. She speaks French, Italian, German and Arabic.


Reservations are not required for this exciting talk, however attendees are asked to RSVP to the Big Island Press Club at [email protected] or call BIPC Events Committee Chair Denise Laitinen at (808) 281-3497 by March 22.

Founded in 1967, the Big Island Press Club is the state’s oldest and most active press club with members from media outlets across Hawai‘i Island. Every year the organization provides more than $4,500 in scholarships to aspiring journalists. For more information on the Big Island Press Club, go to

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