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Archive for the ‘Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS)’ 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, 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, 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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WASHINGTON, DC, 14 January 2018 — I’m delighted to update friends, colleagues and supporters that FREELANCERS with Bill Gentile soon will be moving to the distribution phase.

We’ve scheduled a screening this week at American University, a generous supporter of this project. The event will be held at the class of Matt Cipollone, whose editing of the documentary serves as his graduate degree thesis project. Matt graduates with a Masters Degree this May.

Following the screening, my plan is to deliver the film to the artist who will provide the sound/music foundation of the documentary, and who will mix the sound and music into the final cut. Then we take it to potential distributors. It’s been a long journey, filled with intense, hard work, much learning and a tremendous amount of fun with friends, new and old.

If you haven’t done so already, you may want to watch the FREELANCERS “sizzle reel,” which Matt also edited. Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr5ZwWrUD5E&t=8s

— Bill Gentile

 

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WASHINGTON, DC, 21 December 2017 — I produced this film, Fire and Ice on the Mountain, on my most recent assignment for American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS). I traveled to Peru in June to make the film, following a Swedish anthropologist investigating the link between religion and climate change.

Fire and Ice explores how the melting glacier of Peru’s Huaytapallana mountain impacts Peruvians’ cosmovision or, their spiritual relationship with nature and their understanding of their place in it.

I’ve worked as a freelance foreign correspondent on similar stories in other parts of the world. And that is no coincidence. As the impact of climate change becomes more apparent, and as humankind invades deeper and deeper into the dwindling undeveloped regions of the world, the inhabitants of these regions are squeezed tighter and tighter in the vise of “modernity.” And they are forced to either fight back, adapt — or both.

It was fascinating for me to witness, first-hand, how Peruvian pilgrims celebrating the Andean New Year, adapt to the changes imposed on them by the disappearing glacier atop the mountain of Huaytapallana, just outside the bustling city of Huancayo, some 120 miles east of Lima.

As I do on the vast majority of assignments these days, I employed the methodology that I refer to as “backpack journalism,” to make this film. Backpack journalism means, “one story, one camera, one properly trained video journalist.” This is the methodology that I brought to American University’s School of Communication in the early 2000s, when I founded the Backpack Journalism Project. With the exception of the drone footage shot by colleague and friend Carolina Quinteros, I shot, wrote, and narrated the entire film. My wife, Esther, edited the story.

We hope you enjoy the film.

(Photo by Bill Gentile)

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