<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
 English | Español October 31, 2014 | Issue #67


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Authentic Journalism Means Listening to the Voices of the People

The School of Authentic Journalism Will Teach Me How to Create Media that Matters


By Terri Bennett
Class of 2011, School of Authentic Journalism

April 22, 2011

I know why you’re on the Narco News website. You want to hear about what’s going on in the world but you don’t want to read news that’s compromised by commercial interests, or that disingenuously toes some middle-of-the-road stance.

Let me tell you why I’m here.


Terri Bennett
I recently spent four months in Haiti with the triple purpose of being a disaster relief volunteer, a researcher, and a reporter. Although I didn’t go to Haiti to report on crises, Haiti was pounded with crises while I was there. First there was the cholera outbreak. Then there was Hurricane Tomas, which threatened to spread cholera and tear down refugee camps. Then there were corrupt elections and political unrest. Each time, a team of international journalists touched down on Haiti, shoved cameras in people’s faces, and went home to write sensationalized reports that stripped the context from the place I knew.

When the cholera outbreak hit, every photograph in the news showed a crowd mobbing a hospital that was over-capacity, or a person who had been left to die. There was no mention of the Haitian medical students I met who rented cars and drove to the countryside to teach cholera prevention skills, or the public health collectives that sprung up to help people with the disease, or even the scrappy aid workers who pulled enough medical equipment and staff out of the sky to open up a clinic just hours after the cholera outbreak was announced.

When corruption was evident in the presidential election results and people took to the streets, protesters were portrayed as giant, violent mobs. From where I was standing it seemed people were using blockades to get their point across because the ballot boxes weren’t working.

I started thinking about how much of the world’s perception of Haiti is based on these disengaged snippets of crises reported in the mainstream press and how different Haiti’s place on the world stage might be in a world with more authentic journalism. Let’s face it, every journalist cruising around in a bullet-proofed SUV and hanging out the window with his camera is going to report on the absolute chaos in a country whose people he’s barely talked to. People write about what happens to Haiti, but not what happens in Haiti. They don’t write about the ways people survive and work together to make life better.

Now, I’m going to the School of Authentic Journalism in May to learn more about doing a different kind of journalism. Being an authentic journalist means being an engaged journalist. Some people still won’t admit that the myth of the “unbiased,” “objective,” “eye-in-the-sky” journalist is just a myth. An authentic journalist doesn’t pretend that she has no interest in an issue she’s reporting on because there is the underlying understanding that an authentic journalist is interested in the voice of the people, the world from the bottom up. Attending this year’s school will help take me from a place of critiquing what’s wrong with the media as we know it, to creating media that matters.

Please make a donation today, online, at this link:

http://www.authenticjournalism.org

Or you can make a check out to:

The Fund for Authentic Journalism
PO Box 1446
Easthampton, MA 01027 USA

So, thank you for supporting Narco News and making that possible.

Sincerely,

Terri Bennett
New York, New York

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America