|English | Español||February 21, 2017 | Issue #67|
Help Us Fund Scholarships For the 2016 School of Authentic Journalism
“The way you tell a story can be decisive for winning or losing the fight. The School of Authentic Journalism tells you how to win.”
By Erik Cóyotl
Journalists share the coverage they have made in their communities or countries in support of social movements and talk about the effect their work has had.
Surely you’ve also participated in, or covered, a protest or mobilization that ended up being broken up by the police, and maybe you didn’t know how to respond at the time. Through creative tools developed at the school we show our scholars how to analyze the roles of people on all sides participating in a street protest to know how to respond in any given scenario or hot spot. The School’s work is a bomb of creativity and learning, but it’s also
exhausting; from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep, if at all.
My story in the School of Authentic Journalism
My name is Erik Coyotl Lozada. I live in Cholula, Puebla (city of the 365 churches). At the beginning of this letter I told you how important it is to tell a story, and sometimes we’re capable of writing almost an entire novel about someone else, but we don’t know how to talk about our own story. (This is something we also learn at the School of Authentic Journalism.)
Puebla is a state located in the central‐eastern region of Mexico, and since 2011 it has been the cradle of at least 15 social movements against a mini‐dictator who wants to be the President of the Mexican Republic: Rafael Moreno Valle.
There are struggles here that range from having a decent job, to those that defend natural resources, such as the struggle against the privatization of water, or against the commercialization of archaeological sites. Few fights have been won, and many other have demobilized, challenged by the State’s psychosis. That’s where the job of community organizers and community media comes in.
Organizers sometimes wind up making pacts with power; economic and political. The media are either subjected to the Gag Rule because of the dangers inherent to being a journalist, or they choose to sell their editorial line to the highest bidder.
In my case, I’ve been working since 2009 at a community radio operated by the townspeople in Cholula, Puebla. At first I did technical support for those who organized the communication project, which is also political (not partisan, but in terms of public participation.) But as of 2013 I have had to play another role, as an organizer of community journalists and communicators. At the same I’ve been struggling with friends against a new telecommunications bill. We have won some things and lost some others. The secret I have observed in every fight is the importance of the persistence to resist.
I probably wouldn’t know any of this if in 2013 I hadn’t ended up at the School of Authentic Journalism, where my teachers Quetzal Belmont, Gregory Berger and Al Giordano taught me that to think within the context of a social movement you must study the ability of the enemy to form strategies and attack, and not just participate as the kind of activist that goes to a march or a demonstration one day and then goes back to their routine the next. You need a constant and well designed organization, and to achieve this you need to make the right allies.
Thanks to the school, my community and my friends keep fighting together for an authentic community media, not only for my community but for the whole region, which involves more than 44 towns. Fighting for the airwaves means also fighting for the land and against the powers that spreads fear and terror.
In 2014 I returned to the School of Authentic Journalism as a teacher. In 2015 we almost didn’t have a School of Journalism because we lacked the resources. But once again organization and creativity succeeded, and this past November, 40 autenticos (20 scholars and 20 professors) met to train in nonviolent civil resistance and authentic journalism.
As we speak, each one of them is struggling to change their communities, but we need more of them,. This is why I am asking you to make a donation to the Fund for Authentic Journalism, so that in this 2016, 40 scholarships can be granted.
If you make a donation to the School of Authentic Journalism, and one day you want to come visit Cholula, Puebla, in Mexico, don’t worry about accommodation because you can stay at my place for a whole week, and you’ll also get to tell your story n the community radio.
The world needs more journalists and community organizers, and only you can make it possible.
- The Fund for Authentic Journalism