Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers, WCPO, the Scripps ABC affiliate in Cincinnati, and KGTV, the Scripps ABC affiliate in San Diego, hosted international journalists to cover the November elections for their home countries.
Pedro Pablo Marroquin, 30, from Guatemala, a country in Central America at Mexico's south border, and Hussain Alsari, 28, from Bahrain, a Middle East island off the coast of Saudi Arabia, both arrived in Stuart, Fl. Oct. 28.
Seydina Djigo, from Senegal, a country in West Africa, visited 9 On Your Side and Adil Ali, a journalist from Pakistan, visited KGTV. Both Djigo and Ali visited in the weeks preceeding the election.
They were chosen by the International Center for Journalists, which paid for transportation, lodging and meals.
Marroquin, editor-in-chief of a daily afternoon paper called La Hora, said he has been interested in American politics and wanted to compare how elections are conducted here with those in his own country.
"The little details of the campaign are handled ... so much different from the way they are handled in Guatemala," he said.
Alsari, who is a foreign affairs reporter for Bahrain's Alayam newspaper, said his country's parliament elections are not as complex as U.S. elections.
"(In) a way you can't compare it to here," he said. "Our democracy is still very young."
Both Marroquin and Alsari agreed that the way campaigns are financed, especially the millions spent by political action committees or super PACs, has been the most surprising part of American politics.
"I thought the financing would be a bit different," Marroquin said. "I thought it would have been better, the way the system was structured."
Aslari said campaigning in his country usually didn't cost more than $200,000.
Both said they were glad to have had the opportunity to cover the elections.
"It has lived up to my expectations," Aslari said.
For Marroquin, seeing the second largest democracy in the world (behind India) struggle with some of the same issues as his country helped erase some of his preconceptions about America.
"When you always think of the leader of the free world you think like, everything's going to be Disneyland, you know?" he said. "But it isn't."
During his nine-day visit to Cincinnati, Djigo attended several visits by Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama, including their final two appearances before the election. Djigo also sat in on a one-on-one interview with Newt Gingrich and went out in the field with several MMJ’s.
He was surprised at the access 9 On Your Side was given to the candidates and the speed of reporting on events.
Djigo filed multiple reports with Senegal National Television that included 9 News material and video he shot himself.
After his visit to Cincinnati, Djigo was off to Washington, D.C. to do more reporting on the outcome of the election. He enjoyed his time in the U.S. so much that he hopes to return in four years for the next presidential election.