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Having just concluded my internship at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), I found your reference to my former organization and our director in your June 20 article, “The Seventh Circle of Hell,” to be shamelessly inaccurate, poorly researched, and a ripe candidate for libel.

COHA interns do far more than photocopy and fetch coffee for self-absorbed staff and management members; in fact, no hierarchy exists in the office. Interns research issues and write informative press releases and insightful op-eds for an organization where no one, including the director, is paid. Interns produce articles for the organization’s highly esteemed bi-weekly publication, The Washington Report on the Hemisphere. They conduct interviews with major national and international figures, and attend receptions, lectures, and briefings concerning Latin America and the Caribbean. They manage the organization’s finances, subscription database, library system, and resources. They appear on international radio programs such as Voice of America and the BBC’s Caribbean Report, and find their work published in newspapers such as the L.A. Times, Newsday, the Washington Times, the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Carib News, the Miami Herald, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Bolivian Times.

Most importantly, COHA’s writers follow the institution’s mandate of practicing responsible, fact-verifying journalism. COHA’s director, Larry Birns, advises interns to make the most of their short stint in Washington, giving them work opportunities, media appearances, and credit that he could easily claim for himself. His unrelenting faith in the interns’ abilities as well as his genuine concern for their future is a characteristic exceedingly uncommon among directors of other Washington organizations. All of this was overlooked in Sue Fox’s article, which lacked even hints of journalism, much less alternative journalism. Fox herself ought to consider an internship with COHA.

Silver Spring, Md.

via the Internet