International journalist visits with state department to make changes back home

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– A journalist from Kyrgyzstan is in Indianapolis for a week with his team and United States State Department officials to complete a documentary that he claims could change policy in his native country and its capital.

He said the public cannot county on basic city services that he plans to showcase in his piece in an effort to push what he calls much-needed improvements.

The journalist, Dzhamalbek Dzhumaev, who works for NTS, a national network, was joined by a photographer and a translator as he visited several city departments. On the list was the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and the Indianapolis Fire Department. He will also meet with Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and other city officials.

Dzhumaev said Indianapolis comparable in size to the capital of Kyrgyzstan so it would be easier to draw a parallel.

“I would like the mayor of Bishkek [Kyrgyzstan capital] to be the main viewer of my documentary. I want him to see and actually feel ashamed of how he takes care of the city,” said Dzhumaev through a translator.

Dzhumaev claims they are lacking some basic city services and corruption is widespread as is the misuse of public dollars.

State Department officials said they picked Indianapolis over a handful of other cities. It operates a television co-op program that brings international journalists to the United States with its financial assistance.

At least three different groups have come to the U.S. from Kyrgyzstan in the last two years.

“It’s an honor for Indianapolis to be picked by the state department to do this,” said Marc Lotter, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s spokesperson.

“I’m hoping that my documentary can show the viewers what kind of a better life one could live,” said Dzhumaev.

A U.S. Air Force base in his country has acted as a key logistics hub for resupplying troops to Afghanistan among some other purposes, but the partnership between the Kyrgyzstan government and U.S. officials is in question regarding this matter, according to a state department official. He would not talk to the issue on camera, but he did say offering this kind of opportunity cannot hurt.

The journalist will meet with Mayor Ballard on Thursday along with several other city officials.

“There is no government that could be considered perfect, but at the end of the day, you try to meet the publics’ needs,” said Lotter. “Do you take care of those basics, getting trash picked up, extinguishing fires, protecting public safety, and doing so in a fiscally responsible manner?”

A state department official, who was guiding the group through the process, said they have complete editorial control. One of the journalist’s requirements, however, is to complete a 20-minute documentary.