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Archive for the ‘Bill Gentile’ Category

MIAMI, 21 July 2018 – One of the nation’s leading support groups for journalists, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting maintained an information table at the four-day convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) held this year in Miami, Florida.

In this image, Ann Peters (L) fields questions from a visitor. Peters is the university and community outreach director at the Pulitzer Center, which is based in Washington, DC. At the desk is Jin Ding, the Center’s marketing coordinator.

The Pulitzer Center defines itself, in part, as “an innovative award-winning non-profit journalism organization dedicated to supporting in-depth engagement with underreported global affairs through our sponsorship of quality international journalism across all media platforms and a unique program of outreach and education to schools and universities.”

The Center is just one component of a burgeoning movement to support journalists, especially those working abroad. Other members of that movement include Reporters Without Borders, The Groundtruth Project, the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues (RISC).

American University’s (AU) School of Communication (SOC) now belongs to the Center’s Campus Consortium, a partnership that I spearheaded in 2014. Since then, we have co-sponsored International Reporting Fellowships for AU students traveling to Thailand, Mexico, Borneo, Laos, Colombia and Peru.

These fellowships represent an extraordinary opportunity for students to meet and to join the Center’s international network of seasoned professionals, to take on challenging stories abroad, to add compelling print, photo, video and audio components to their body of work, and to disseminate their work through the Center and its media partners around the world.

The Center maintained an information table during the July 18-21 event because, for working journalists, aspiring journalists, journalism teachers or just anyone interested in the craft of journalism, the 2018 convention NAHJ was the place to be.

The largest and most important organization of its kind, the NAHJ “is dedicated to the recognition and professional advancement of Hispanics in the news industry,” according to its mission statement. The NAHJ includes some 2,000 members, including “working journalists, journalism students, other media-related professionals and journalism educators.”

Earlier this year, I helped launch the DC student chapter of the NAHJ – the first of its kind in the nation’s capital. I work alongside other faculty, staff and students to make our institution look more like our nation’s population at large. And we are making impressive progress. Of the total number of students entering American University in fall 2017, about 14 percent were Hispanic – higher than ever before.

As the faculty advisor to the new chapter, I’ll be doing my utmost to ensure that AU’s School of Communication maintains an information table and a presence at next year’s convention in San Antonio, Texas.

(Photo by Bill Gentile)

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Above, panelists and attendees conduct a moment of silence for journalists killed on the job in Latin America.

By Bill Gentile

MIAMI, 21 July 2018 — Violence against journalists in Latin America is on the rise.

“Fellow journalists in several countries in the Americas continue to face violence and loss of life at the hands of opponents of a free press bent on silencing them just for doing their job,” the program announcing a panel on violence against journalists pointed out.

“Amnesty International calls Mexico the world’s deadliest country for journalists alongside Syria, and journalists in Venezuela experience death threats, harassment, and attacks.”

This year’s annual convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) was held in Miami. It was an extraordinary event for learning about our craft and its practitioners across the continent. The panel on violence against journalists was just one of the many events and opportunities available during the July 18–21 convention. I was fortunate to be able to attend the final two days.

Panelists at this event discussed how journalism can be a deadly endeavor for those who practice it. The panel was moderated by Rosental Calmon Alves, of the University of Texas at Austin.

In a back-and-forth with members of the panel, I pointed out that the president of the United States has called journalists “the enemy of the American people” and labeled their work as “fake news.” I noted that leaders in countries including Russia, the Philippines and Turkey had taken license from the president’s accusations, and used similar language to attack the media in their own countries. I asked if members of the panel had witnessed whether the president’s language also had infected leaders in countries across this hemisphere.

One panelist, from Venezuela, pointed out that, prior to the ascension to power of Hugo Chavez, “journalists were some of the most respected” professionals in her country. The people loved journalists and the work they did, she said. But after years of demonization by Chavez and his successor Nicolás Maduro, journalists now work under the threat of verbal and physical violence against them.

Dictators like to do their work in the dark, away from the prying eyes of journalists whose job it is to speak truth to power. And we’ve seen the result of this. Venezuela, with some of the richest deposits of oil on the planet, is a violent, failed state unable to feed her own people.

I recently helped launch American University’s (AU) student chapter of the NAHJ – the first in our nation’s capital. As a member of the School of Communication (SOC) Diversity Committee, I work alongside other faculty, staff and students to make our institution look more like our nation’s population at large. And we are making impressive progress. Of the total number of students entering American University in fall 2017, about 14 percent were Hispanic – higher than ever before.

Above, panelists and attendees conduct a moment of silence for journalists killed on the job in Latin America.

Below, Rosental Calmon Alves moderates a panel discussion.

(Photos by Bill Gentile)

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By Bill Gentile

WASHINGTON, DC, 26 June 2018 – Mrs. Diane Foley addresses guests at the James W. Foley Freedom Awards at the Newseum in the nation’s capital. The event was an extraordinary testament to the power of one mother’s love for her son, a freelance photojournalist.

Mrs. Foley was kind enough to invite me, and a number of American University students, to the event. All of us were moved by the proceedings.

James Foley was a freelance photojournalist kidnapped on November 22, 2012 in northern Syria. He was murdered by militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria on August 19, 2014 in the Raqqa region of Syria.

As a freelance foreign correspondent and full-time faculty member of American University’s School of Communication, I am familiar with the hardship and risk associated with our craft. I created and teach a Foreign Correspondence course designed to help young journalists aspiring to work overseas. The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation provides much-appreciated support for us all.

The awards ceremony was pertinent to my current project. I recently completed the pilot episode of my documentary series, “FREELANCERS with Bill Gentile.” The global series explores how a new generation of daring, determined and tech-savvy journalists increasingly fill the void left by mainstream media outlets retreating from news coverage abroad, and how their search for truth on the ground is transforming the craft of foreign correspondence. Here’s the brief “sizzle reel,” or trailer: https://vimeo.com/275931310

At the dinner, I ran into long-time colleague and friend Mike Boettcher, a war correspondent whom I first met while covering Nicaragua’s Contra War in the 1980s. Mike has embedded with U.S. troops numerous times in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a visiting professor at the University of Oklahoma.

Mike practices the methodology that we refer to as “backpack journalism,” which I introduced to the School of Communication shortly after arriving there in 2003.

Also at the event was my terrific colleague Gemma Puglisi, who facilitated the invitation from Mrs. Foley.

(Photos by Bill Gentile)

 

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By Bill Gentile

WASHINGTON, DC, 2 June 2018 – Jon Sawyer, Founder and Executive Director of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, addresses dinner guests at the Center’s “Beyond War Conference” at the National Press Club in the nation’s capital.

During his address, Sawyer emphasized the increasingly important role that freelance journalists play in today’s media landscape.

The Pulitzer event features two days of panels and workshops dealing with the issues of violence and conflict around the world – along with some of the most talented and accomplished journalists covering those issues. Most are freelancers. Among the panelists was Jason Motlagh, a multiple Pulitzer Center grantee who screened some clips from his upcoming documentary about the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.

Just a few years ago I helped engineer a partnership between American University’s (AU) School of Communication and the Pulitzer Center. That relationship has helped co-sponsor international reporting fellowships for AU students traveling to Mexico, Thailand, Colombia, Borneo, Laos, Peru and, this fall, El Salvador. Some of those students attended the event last night.

The argument about freelancers is the core of my upcoming documentary series, FREELANCERS with Bill Gentile. My graduate teaching assistant, Matt Cipollone, and I traveled to Mexico in March 2017 to shoot the pilot episode. Matt has graduated from AU and now works as a freelancer.

Jason Motlagh is on the far right, with beard.

Guests view Motlagh’s Rohingya video.

Matt Cipollone documents the event.

(Photos by Bill Gentile)

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By Bill Gentile

WASHINGTON, DC, 1 May 2018 — The killing of 10 journalists in Afghanistan yesterday was an attack not only on the brothers and the sisters of our craft. It was an assault on Truth itself.

Some 25 people, including nine journalists, died in a double suicide bombing in the Afghan capital of Kabul. In a separate incident, unidentified gunmen shot to death a tenth Afghan journalist in Khost Province. Members of ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Yesterday’s victims, and scores of other colleagues killed and wounded around the world, are some of the most valuable — and the most vulnerable — members of our guild. They are Afghans in Afghanistan. Mexicans in Mexico. Salvadorans in El Salvador. Most are local hires whom Western journalists like me depend on for background, context and contacts to help us decipher their countries and their cultures so that we can do our job.

They toil at the grass roots level of information gathering. They are driven by a profound sense of duty to find and to disseminate Truth about their own countries. And like most Westerners, they believe that Truth is an essential ingredient for any free and democratic society.

But they also are the most vulnerable members of our craft. Mexico, for example, is one of the world’s most dangerous countries to be a journalist. At least 104 journalists have been murdered there since 2000, while 25 others have disappeared and are presumed dead. None of the dead or disappeared are foreigners. All are Mexican. Impunity is nearly 100 percent.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, some 1,900 journalists and media workers were killed around the world between 1992 and 2018. The killings, threats and intimidation of journalists have profound and long-lasting impact. As I learned during a trip to Mexico last year to produce the pilot of a documentary series about freelance foreign correspondents, many Mexican journalists impose self-censorship as a safety precaution. Some media outlets have simply shut down.

As a result, our access to Truth is diminished. Our understanding of the world grows dark.

Yesterday’s attack on journalists was a tremendous loss not just for Afghanistan. It was a tremendous loss for us all.

– Bill Gentile
School of Communication, American University
Founder, Foreign Correspondence Network (FCN)
Creator, FREELANCERS with Bill Gentile documentary series. See the sizzle reel HERE: https://vimeo.com/254574654

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By Bill Gentile

WASHINGTON, DC, 20 April 2018 — Dean Jeffrey Rutenbeck takes time outside the School of Communication to congratulate graduate student Kristian Hernandez for having won the 2018 AU-Pulitzer Center International Reporting Fellowship.

It is Rutenbeck’s generous support that funds AU’s continuing partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Kristian’s winning proposal for the fellowship explores what is being done by the U.S. and Central American governments to repatriate the remains of hundreds of migrants who die each year in pursuit of the American Dream.

In El Salvador and Guatemala, he will visit the grave sites containing the remains of two migrants he helped recover for a story as an immigration reporter with The Monitor newspaper in McAllen, Texas.

During interviews at human rights groups, consulates and with forensic anthropologists, he will determine how bureaucracy perpetuates the long, dark night suffered by thousands of families unable to find closure and peace over their missing family members.

This story will be part one of a three-part series that starts in Central America and continues in Mexico and ends in Texas. As part of this project he will write a 2,500 word story with photographs, and on-camera interviews.

(Photos by Bill Gentile)

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WASHINGTON, DC, 1 March 2017 – I delivered a few remarks at the inauguration of the photo exhibit, “Self Portrait of a Nation,” (Ojos Propios) at the Peruvian embassy in the nation’s capital. Standing to my left is Peruvian Ambassador to the United States, Carlos Pareja.

The exhibit focuses on images made by “citizen photojournalists” in some of the most remote and underprivileged corners of Peru. The exhibit is the result of a decade-long effort by photographer Andrés Longhi.

My two most important takeaways from the event are: (1) Technology has enabled non-professionals with access to digital cameras and the Internet to take part in the representation of their own communities, their own countries and their own realities. (2) The ability to take part in the global conversation that we call “journalism” validates and empowers the practitioners and their subjects.

(Still photos by Esther Gentile)

You can see the event here: https://www.facebook.com/EmbassyPeruInTheUSA/videos/1946719012056744/

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