|English | Español||September 21, 2014 | Issue #67|
Authentic Journalism Needs You
Give Today to Support Yet Another Generation of Authentic Journalists from Around the World
By Milena Velis
Milena Velis leads a plenary session at the 2010 School of Authentic Journalism. – DR 2010 Noah Friedman-Rudovsky.
When I applied for the School of Authentic Journalism, I was a stressed out, confused, and newly minted reporter trying to understand what the hell was going on in the journalism “industry” I had so recently joined. With little experience or training, I had found myself covering the entire city of Philadelphia as part of a staff of two reporters for a local Spanish language weekly.
I loved the job of a journalist, but as newspapers dropped like flies around us, the pressure was on to “do more with less.” We were told conventional media was on the decline because we weren’t up to date on the latest Internet and social media trends, not because of consolidation, profit-grubbing layoffs, or lack of accountability.
At the same time, I was spending my free time working with the Media Mobilizing Project, a grassroots organization that uses media as an organizing tool for coalescing a broad movement to end poverty. When I wasn’t at my day job, I was trying to understand and build a new journalism, working with union shop stewards to cover local labor issues, and studying the importance of media and communications in social movements with leaders of local grassroots struggles.
At my day job I was teaching myself. I literally knew three other journalists personally. I had no idea if I was doing things right. At MMP I was working on a project that I believed in deeply, with experienced organizers who understood the strategic importance of media, but nobody who was an experienced journalist.
I felt like no one knew how to answer the questions I was struggling to answer each day. What’s the relationship between journalism and organizing? Should journalism be objective? How do you communicate when you don’t own a newspaper or a TV station? And who gets to call themselves a journalist anyway?
When I got off a plane in Cancun, and traveled to the campus at a nearby undisclosed location, I got a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet and learn from the very people who could help answer my questions, and more.
I got to hear dozens of firsthand lessons from journalists who had covered the most important social movements of the last decade across Latin America. I got to learn about the role of journalism in the Civil Rights movement, the resistance to the Honduran coup, and the fight against police brutality in Egypt, from the very people who shaped strategies and struggled on the terrain of media.
I got to learn from Al Giordano, who reminded us again and again that journalists can never be objective, but we should strive to always be authentic.
In the Viral Video track, I learned about what it takes to get a low budget (or no-budget), self-produced video shared by thousands of people across the internet. I also got my first real training in video production, learning how to shoot and edit video from the best of them.
And I learned that anyone with a commitment to ruthlessly and authentically pursuing the truth could call themselves a journalist.
When I look back almost one year after going to Mexico for the School of Authentic Journalism, I know that the most important outcomes of those crazy ten days are still to come, in the work that so many of my fellow students are doing around the world, the relationships we’ve built with each other, and the continuing growth of Authentic Journalism.
I know that the people I met last year are just a handful of the many talented young journalists who need to be connected to each other, who need training and encouragement, and who need to know they are not struggling alone.
Please make your contribution today to The Fund for Authentic Journalism, to keep Narco News reporting and training more journalists to do this work. Your contributions up to $20,000 will be matched so that a contribution of $10 dollars will in fact become one of $20. The Fund is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, which means your donation is tax deductible, too.
You can make your contribution online, here:
Or you can send it to:
The Fund for Authentic Journalism
PO Box 1446
Easthampton, MA 01027 USA
I hope you can help us make this happen.
Publisher’s Note: Milena Velis, graduate of the 2010 School of Authentic Journalism, has been invited to the 2011 session as a professor in viral video production.
- The Fund for Authentic Journalism