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Santa Maria Sun / Biz Spotlight

The following article was posted on November 7th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 36 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 36

Spotlight on: Open World Leadership Center

Delegation of Russian journalists

By Chris McGuinness

The editorial staff at the Sun and its sister paper New Times are used to answering questions about the paper from curious readers, but Nov. 2 was one of the first times they needed the help of a Russian translator to do it.

That morning, the New Times Media Group's publishers, editors, and reporters hosted a delegation of journalists from Russia at the New Times office. The delegation had been traveling around SLO County for the past week, meeting with elected officials, university professors, and local newspapers as part of a leadership exchange program sponsored by the U.S. House of Representatives.

"This is called citizen diplomacy," said Bob Fonarow, the Paso Robles Rotarian who hosted the group during its stay in SLO County.

A group of Russian journalists, editors, and journalism professors stopped by the New Times office as part of a weeklong visit to the Central Coast. Pictured left to right: Nataliya Poplavskaya, Yelena Burdovskaya, Konstantin Alekseyev, Pavel Bodrykh, Yevgeniya Potekhina, and Yevgeniy Belyanchikov.

Members of the delegation included Yevgeniya Potekhina, Yelena Burdovskaya, Nataliya Poplavskaya, Yevgeniy Belyanchikov, and Konstantin Alekseyev. They were joined by facilitator Pavel Bodrykh and translator Alexander Krainiy. 

The hour-long discussion between the two groups covered a range of topics, including freedom of the press, editorial independence, and the impact of the internet and social media on the journalism industry.

"What I thought was interesting was that many of the questions they asked were some of the same questions we get from the population at large here in San Luis Obispo," said Sun Executive Editor Camillia Lanham.

Joe Payne, managing editor of the Sun, said he was also struck by how many topics of the conversation mirrored discussions and debates going on within the U.S media.

"Many of the concerns that they had about changes in the industry are exactly what we talk about here in our newsroom and what the overall American print media culture in this country is discussing," he said. "At the end of the day these folks are just trying to get papers out, update their websites, and inform and engage their readers."

The delegation's visit was sponsored by the Open World Leadership Program, a congressionally operated exchange program that brings emerging leaders from Eurasian countries to the U.S. to meet and engage with government officials and other professionals. 

"The Open World Leadership Center administers the first and only international exchange agency in the U.S. legislative branch that is completely controlled by Congress," the organization's website states. "The founders of Open World were united in the belief that widespread, direct contact between American leaders and those of other nations would greatly benefit all involved."

The delegation visited Washington, D.C., before traveling to SLO County. In addition to their visit to New Times, the delegation met with the Paso Robles Daily News and professors and students from Cal Poly's journalism department. The group also met local politicians, including Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin and SLO County 1st District Supervisor John Peschong.


• The Lompoc City Council approved a rezone and agreement that will allow the construction of a new, 28,000-square-foot Community Health Centers (CHC) facility along the 1200 block of West Ocean Avenue. The facility will include "49 exam rooms, doctors' offices, a blood draw area, laboratory, imaging room, restrooms, pharmacy, and dental services," a city press release stated. The location will join Lompoc's other CHC facility located at 425 W. Central Ave.

• Marian Regional Medical Center and the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce will host a Health Care Roundtable on Nov. 9 from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Marian's Conference Center, 1400 E. Church St., Santa Maria. Community members are invited to attend and hear from Marian's new president and CEO, Sue Andersen; cardiologist Jason Choi, MD; and breast surgeon Monica Rocco, MD, FACS. There will also be a Q-and-A session as well as a complimentary breakfast. More info: 

Chris McGuinness, staff writer for the Sun's sister paper New Times, wrote this week's Biz Spotlight. Information should be sent to the Sun via fax, mail, or email at

Weekly Poll
What do you think of the county's new permitting process for hoop houses?

Farmers already have too many regulations to adhere to.
It was necessary to clarify the permitting process.
The process will help protect wildlife.
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