<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 April 16, 2014 | Issue #67


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Buckle Down and Enjoy the Ride to the Land of Authentic Journalism

Scholars from Around the World Attend the Inaugural Dinner for the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism


By Arzu Geybullayeva
Special to the Narco News Bulletin

May 18, 2011

Eighty scholars and professors from many corners of the world came together in Mexico City on May 11 for the opening of a school described by some of its previous graduates as “life changing” and “the best educational experience” of their lives: the 2011 Narco News School of Authentic Journalism.

Speaking at an inaugural dinner held at a restaurant in the city, school founder Al Giordano introduced the School of Authentic Journalism as a place where “we all can learn from each other,” both as professors and scholars, while learning to become “better, faster and more coherent.”


Arzu Geybullayeva at the 2011 Narco News School of Authentic Journalism. DR 2011 Noah Friedman-Rudovsky.
Following his opening remarks, Giordano gave the floor to this year’s authentic scholars, along with new and returning professors. They introduced themselves with descriptions of who they were, their experiences, and what they hoped to learn from spending the next ten days with people from places like Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Brazil, Bolivia, Europe, North Africa, the UK, Mexico, Sri Lanka and the United States.

When talking to some of last year’s scholars, a common theme that pops up is the unconventionality of the school. Noha Atef, an Egyptian journalist and blogger who was at the school in 2010, describes it as “untraditional.” Prior to coming to the school, Atef had never attended a journalism school or spent any time with large groups of journalists. “It was a good experience,” she said. Returning to the school as a professor in the online media workgroup, she wants to have “an experience that is innovative and definitely not limited to a strictly professor/scholar relationship, and rather an opportunity for everyone here at the school to learn from each other.”

Andrew Stelzer, an award-winning radio producer and news reporter, has been to all four sessions of school. He remembers his first time in 2003 as a “remarkable experience.” “The world wasn’t as connected as it is now and so being at the school really felt like, ‘Wow!’” says Stelzer.


Andrew Stelzer at this year’s campus of the School of Authentic Journalism. DR 2011 Noah Friedman-Rudovsky.
This year, Andrew will be a professor for a third time with the video group. Like Atef, Stelzer also considers the professor/scholar relationship to be important. He also sees the school as “an opportunity to build our own network and help each other,” given the multiple backgrounds of scholars attending the school. That’s especially true this year, as this year’s class will be the largest attendance in the school’s history.

The School of Authentic Journalism was founded in 2002. Its first session was in 2003 in Mexico. In 2004, the school opened its doors for scholars in Bolivia, and once again in 2010 in Mexico. Each year, professors select journalists, academics, anthropologists, writers, activists, organizers, bloggers and other scholars for an intensive training program on precise and effective use of journalism.

The theme this year is movement strategies for journalists. During the program, scholars get a chance to share their experiences and knowledge while exploring boundaries in the fields of journalism and organizing, through workshops and plenary sessions which feature speakers with decades of experience. This year, the scholars and their professors are split into three groups: online media, viral video, and investigative journalism.

Looking forward to the school, this year Sri Lankan scholar Kanya D’Almeida summed up her impressions of the school during the inaugural dinner and its scholars as “setting the bar really high.”

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