Panel discusses accountability in government and business

Local journalists and bloggers can play an essential role in keeping government and business accountable, panelists told visitors from African countries on Monday.

The Minot Area Council for International Visitors hosted the panel for the participants journalists, government officials and business people from Botswana, Chad, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria and Zimbabwe who are here to learn about accountability in government and business in the United States and how the local media acts to encourage transparency.

Local panelists included: Jim Olson, news director at KXM; Patti Fedje, an assistant professor of accounting at Minot State; Dan Rudy, a Minot Daily News reporter; and Chad Nodland, a Bismarck attorney who is editor of the NorthDecoder blog.

Fedje spoke about

whistle-blower laws that protect people from official retaliation when they report fraud and other illegal activities in their organizations. Nodland, who operates his blog on the side, said he often requests documents from government agencies through the Freedom of Information Act and summarizes them on his blog, hoping that more traditional media sources will pick up the story and report on it more widely.

The African visitors included Olopeng Rabasimane, a columnist with The Botswana Gazette in Botswana; Vincent Moutede-Madji, head of the research section at GRAMP-TC, an oil sector monitoring organization in Chad; Appolinaire Assa Yapi, technical advisor in the communications department fo rthe Office of the Prime Minister in Ivory Coast; Johnstone Kiragu Wachira, a policy consultant in governance and trade for the Kenya Private Sector Alliance; Kondwani Charles Kaunda, director of finance and administration for the Malawi Economic Justice Network; Mariatou Amadou, chief treasurer for NGO ROTAB in Niger; Innocent Phinan Odoh, head of the foreign desk for Blueprint Newspapers in Abuja, Nigeria; and Isaac Mumpande, advocacy and peace program manager for Silveira House Development Center in Zimbabwe.

The group will be here through today and will visit with other business leaders in the area.