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Archive for the ‘freelancers’ Category

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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