Authentic Journalism Orchestra Begins to Play
Students, Professors, Assemble in the Yucatan to Report on Drug Legalization Summit
By Carola Mittrany
Narco News Authentic Journalism Scholar
February 12, 2003
“Life, without music, would be a mistake.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
The music created by a half-hundred youths, that if they’re not young in chronological age, they are in spirit, forms an orchestra of free souls. They’re free to create, and they’re anxious to conduct a symphony of ideas, led by authenticity.
From the “Out from the Shadows” Summit, that will take place in the Mexican Southeast, we expect a lot. And only at the end of these ten intense days of work and dedication will we know, with precision, everything that happened during this intense journey. But we will certainly continue talking about this event for a long time to come.
A group of 26 students and 26 professors are here, now, in Merida, Yucatan, to speak about the war on drugs and the renaissance of Authentic Journalism as a social duty – its original function – from which it should never be separate. The gathering has, at its root, the Authentic Journalism of the daily Por Esto!, of which, kind readers, you are going to hear a lot for a long time about this ambitious project launched by Narco News.
The idea is to unite and build force toward a common struggle, that of authenticity, iand it’s not only a commitment with the world but, rather, with one’s self. “The treasure of our profession is not found in what one can obtain materially. It is in the wealth of the spirit,” said Renan Castro Madera, editor of the Quintana Roo edition of the daily Por Esto! newspaper in Cancun.
The facts are before you, kind readers, and the result you will see – live and direct – on this online newspaper.
But who are these people? Well, people from all America, the South and the North and the Center: Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador.
We’ve also got an Italian here, Ugo Vallauri, who can be seen with a permanent smile on his face. Why? “Well, it’s because it is marvelous to be here with so many interesting people ready to fight for what they believe in,” he says. Or Alex Contreras, a journalist with a dozen years experience reporting from Cochabamba, Bolivia, about the false but bloody war on drugs in his country. “I came so as to not feel so alone in my efforts to expose the truth,” he comments. And with this group, it will of course not be difficult to reach this goal.
Photos D.R. Jeremy Bigwood 2003
Let’s take for example Sunny Angulo, who, for protesting against the School of the Americas of the U.S. Pentagon was recently in court, and is only free from prison today thanks to the support of journalists, activists and people who strongly believe in freedom of speech. “Suddenly, there was a mountain of emails and letters on the judge’s desk and he asked me if I was trying to turn the media against him. After a few hours he left his office and allowed me to go free,” she recounts, happy for the power to attend this gathering.
The professors are yet another story. They’re accessible and are always ready to help. Beyond that, they are a true model of advocacy in journalism, of men and women who chose to tell the truth from their point of view, without fear of personal risk and confronting diverse sacrifices. Like Mario Renato Menendez Rodriguez, editor and publisher of the daily Por Esto!, who was exiled from Mexico for eight years and who accused the director of the Banamex-Citgroup company, Roberto Hernandez Ramirez, of drug trafficking.
Renan Castro at the Por Esto! offices in Cancun
“Por Esto! was the only media organization that brought the scandal of narco-trafficking in the hands of the wealthiest and most influential people in all of Mexico to light. And that’s why we are very warmly regarded by the people of Quintana Roo,” said Renan Castro.
The list is wide and during these days we will speak with many of the, who with such goodwill answered to the authentic call. “I came here to learn from the young people,” says Diana Ricci with a sweet smile, photgrapher for the realoaxaca.com website produced by her husband Stan Gotlieb, also a professor of this school, both from the United States but living in Mexico.
Clearly we can’t stop talking about it: The chemistry that was produced instantly among people of all ages and different cultures who think a better world is possible. “I came to learn and to share distinct experiences that suddenly seem the same, because we are meeting in a context in which we’re all equal and your reality turns into mine,” says Andrea Arenas of Bolivia, one of the Narco News scholarship recipients.
And if it depends upon this group it certainly will be. The opening of the School of Authentic Journalism, that took place in Puerto Morelos, a fishing village on the Mexican coast of the Caribbean, on February 10th, was a real demonstration of authenticity.
Sunny Angulo with the cane of Abbie Hoffman
in Puerto Morelos
“The idea of having each one of us speak in a circle with the cane of an authentic journalist in our hands connected us and made it clear why we are here,” Karine Muller, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, underscored. The cane – that on first view seems like a simple piece of hardwood – belonged to Abbie Hoffman, the North American revolutionary of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, inherited by Al Giordano, president of the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism.
The orchestra, Narco News readers, has begun to play. And it arrives with such power and force that there is not a silence on earth that can obfuscate its harmony.
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