Tag Archives: journalism

Panel Highlights Female Innovation in Digital Journalism

Ben Gill
Staff Writer

A throng of reporters, media officials, and other tech-savvy individuals converged on the Twitter offices in downtown San Francisco on Feb. 3 for a panel on the impact of women in global journalistic innovation. Hosted by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), the event featured four leading figures from around the world sharing their efforts and experiences to enhance the role of women in next-generation news.  Continue reading Panel Highlights Female Innovation in Digital Journalism

Between the Microphone and the AK-47: Journalists Share Risks of the Job

Violence triggers one of two reactions—an escape to safer grounds, or a desire to fight to see improvements.

Journalists risk their lives documenting the course of violent events, often becoming a part of the story they once sought to report. Some media organizations succumb to the threats of reporting massacres, particularly when it is not in the government’s interest to be held responsible for reported incidents. Yet, for decades several journalists have held their ground and investigated crime, disappearances and mass murder regardless of the risks implicated with the job.
Carlos Henriquez Consalvi, most commonly recognized by the pseudonym “Santiago,” is thought to be one of those valiant journalists and he visited USF at the beginning of April.

His inclination toward journalism was paved by social circumstances. Government raids at his university in Venezuela pressured Consalvi to put a pause on his journalism studies, so he went to Argentina. Seeking refuge from the violence back home, he bumped into journalists whose bodies had been left mutilated on the streets of Buenos Aires during Argentina’s dictatorship in the seventies. Capturing the graphic scenes with his camera lens got him arrested, but that didn’t scare him from photographing bloody scenes elsewhere. Aware of the United States’ intervention in Central America, which sought to placate revolutions the country perceived as communist, Consalvi travelled to Nicaragua and later El Salvador. In the latter country, he co-founded El Salvador’s major outlet of guerrilla communication, Radio Venceremos (“We will overcome radio”) where he took on his pseudonym. Consalvi’s reports were heard clandestinely throughout Latin America and the United States.

At a Spanish language event held at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA) a day prior to Consalvi’s visit to USF, Consalvi said young journalism students often tell him they wish they could follow in his footsteps but feel their resources are limited. Consalvi, who only completed two years of journalism as an undergraduate in Venezuela, tells them, “You don’t need a lot of resources to communicate the truth and carry out a creative work. What you need is the will to report the truth.”

The radio that made Consalvi an icon of the revolution in El Salvador was constructed from a 40-year-old World War II transmitter, a microphone, and not much else.

Consalvi’s Radio Reports Mobilize Audience
The events held at the cultural center and USF, both in Spanish, gathered similar faces, many of them ex-combatants and war survivors from El Salvador.
“He is my third commander,” said Ismael Palacios, 84, who listened to Consalvi’s broadcasts in California. “He’s worthy of having that merit. He risked everything for El Salvador even though he is from Venezuela,” Palacios said. The reports he heard on Radio Venceremos encouraged Palacios to organize manifestations in San Francisco demanding an end to U.S. aid to the Salvadoran government fighting the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) Salvadoran guerilla in the eighties.

Constantly on the move avoiding being ambushed by the Salvadoran military, Consalvi reported on the losses and advances of the government and guerilla , often reading long lists naming those who had fallen while boosting the FMLN’s morale when he announced their victories.

Tito Amaya, 43, heard Consalvi’s broadcasts from Costa Rica, where he was a political refugee. “I got up at 6 in the morning to listen to Consalvi’s station. He would talk about the latest updates on the armed conflict, the danger people faced, the government’s bombings and they would play revolutionary songs,” Amaya said in Spanish. Having been musically inclined from a young age, Amaya performed songs narrating the stories about the civil war during an event with Consalvi at MCCLA.

For those that lived in the midst of violence during the time Consalvi broadcasted, his visit conjured memories of the scary times they survived.

Jorge Lopez, now in his forties, remembers being 14 during the armed conflict in El Salvador. “One of my cousins was tortured. He came home one day and told us everything with details. They put hot cigarettes on his legs and back. Then they would shock him with electricity currents. They had him there without food. They would spout names, asking him if they knew who they were.” Lopez’ stoic eyes looked off to the side, “My cousin cried. He survived.”

As a teenager Lopez said he felt very sad not knowing how he could help. Today he is a photojournalism student at City College inspired by Consalvi’s journalistic work.
Luisa Moge, 47, who fought with the FMLN Salvadoran guerilla, said her attendance at the Mission Cultural Center brought back her days in combat. “It’s like a gathering with people from the past,” she said as she waived to a friend sporting a red FMLN cap. Yet for Moge, the struggle is not over. “The recovery of memory is very important. I am interested in knowing where they are, the disappeared, because that is a topic that is unresolved,” she said.

After the peace accords were signed in 1992, ending the civil war in El Salvador, Consalvi transitioned from reporting the war to preserving its memory. He founded the Museum of Words and Images in El Salvador which showcases the old transmitter of Radio Venceremos.

How Much Violence Should Be Reported?
Consalvi spoke at two Spanish language events held on campus, one of them being a panel which included professors and radio journalists who debated regarding the media’s responsibility to report violence.

Antoni Castells-Talens, a professor and researcher from the University of Florida said the government’s ownership of media in Mexico leads reporters to self-censor their content. Increased militarization in Veracruz, the Mexican state where he researches may also frighten journalists in the region. Castells-Talens said store owners in Veracruz have recently posted signs that read “No AK-47s” next to no-dog signs outside their establishments.

Yet, Laura Mora, who represented Radio Teoselo from the same Mexican state , said people often demand for the radio station to help them find their disappeared relatives. “Fulfilling that request would make the station a clear target,” said Mora, “We don’t have a protocol for dealing with these situations but there is a consensus that radio has to be a voice for the victims of violence.”

But the consequences of not reporting such events have the potential to trigger more violence according to Dr. Clemencia Rodriguez, a professor and panelist who spoke about Colombian media. She said journalists who have been trained in a climate of constant warfare are accustomed to reporting violence. “Mistrust grows, use of weapons is normalized, intolerance of differences increases if you don’t report, “she said. Rodriguez also insinuated that there might be such a thing as too much coverage on violence. “People’s humanity disappears; it is reduced to their role in the war. Are they a victim, guerilla member or survivor?” she said.

Bay Area journalist Chelis Lopez reinforced the media’s responsibility in balancing their coverage of violence with uplifting stories when she said, “The objective of radio is to encourage the community to do something for itself.”

Consalvi, surrounded by followers from his Bay Area visit, said: “Violence is in the interest of the powerful, those who sell weapons. The last names of the powerful are tied to politicians interested in seeing the violence continue. Alternative media outlets play a large role in promoting change.”

Senioritis: What is the Source?

Senioritis is an affliction that affects most college students when they are nearing the end of their collegiate careers. I, like a lot of my colleagues, am graduating in December, making this my final semester at USF. This knowledge can do one of two things. In the first scenario, the final semester will make you want to work harder so that when you graduate, you feel a sense of accomplishment in knowing that you worked hard all the way to the end. In the other scenario, the last semester means all you need to do is pass your classes to reach the 128 required credits, why put in that extra effort? You have been working hard for the past three years, why not slack off a bit and enjoy the last days as a student before entering the real world?

It is not laziness or apathy, but knowing the end is just around the corner sometimes give seniors this sense of indifference towards their school work. Some professors and overachieving students would find this kind of attitude blasphemous, but this kind of behavior is natural after being in school for over 16 years and basically having the same routine. For me, the feeling is that I have three months left before my life begins. My final classes are like paying my final dues to enter what my life will be, and most of us want our lives to begin as soon as possible.

My major is listed as politics and my minor is listed as legal studies, but I have no intention of trying to be the first female president of the United States, nor do I have the intention of going to law school. When I entered my freshman year at USF, law school was on my mind and getting involved with politics was a passion of mine, but because of my liberal arts education here I learned about other areas of education and tapped into something I was truly passionate about, which was journalism. More specifically, sports journalism. Through learning about the press in my law classes and politics classes, I found that this was the area I wanted to get involved in. I lost interest in my political endeavors, and, frankly, law school is too much work for a job that takes over your life. Finishing college as quickly as possible to get started on a career in journalism was the first thing on my mind. Changing my major might have tacked on another semester to my four year sentence. I have cut down my time in school to three and half years by choosing to graduate early. Finding a job in the field I want is what is on my mind, not these classes that do not interest me anymore. In all honesty, senioritis started taking a hold of me during my junior year when I started losing interest in my classes. From that point on I was simply going through the motions of getting up, going to class, doing homework, and repeat. Knowing that this will finally be coming to an end gives me a sense of relief and makes my drive to go through the motions slower.

Unlike me, most seniors will pursue a job in their major’s field, but what we have in common is that we are sick of learning about what interests us and we are anxious to apply our knowledge in the real world in a real job that can give us fulfillment. Even though paying bills, taxes, and going to a job from 9-5 seems scary, I see it as finally being considered a member of society to be taken seriously with this fancy degree and being treated as more than just a college student. Finding a life outside the walls of USF is something exciting, and not having to go to uninteresting classes everyday is also a plus. Slacking a bit and being less motivated should be somewhat expected from seniors, but the reasons behind senioritis may not be as black and white as sheer laziness.

Davies Forum Hosts Innovative Real News Network CEO

The 2009 Davies Forum, entitled “Remaking the News”, entertained the first guest speaker of the semester this past Thursday.

Paul Jay, founder and CEO of the Real News Network (RNN), came to USF as part of the forum and discussed everything from the war in Iraq, to hip-hop artist Chuck Dee, to the new Obama administration. The RNN is unique because it is funded solely by donations and because its correspondents are native to the area that they are writing about.

The Real News Network is an independent news and documentary network focusing on independent journalism. It is comprised of video discussions and interviews, diving into topics that Jay said the mainstream media will not talk about.

“You will never hear CNN or Fox approach the question of whether or not we should cut the budget when it comes to military,” said Jay, whose media outlet is solely online right now, but is in the process of finalizing a deal with TiVo to get the Real News Network on television.

Media studies professor Dorothy Kidd, who is teaching the Davis Forum class this semester, learned about Jay by reading his work in the Huffington Post. “He has a very solid background in mainstream news that’s based on explaining stories to encourage public debate and discussion,” said Kidd. “This approach fits with the Davies Forum mandate, and the University’s mission.”

“We are at a crossroads in our existence,” Jay said to a group of 13 media studies students in the Davies Forum class on Thursday afternoon, and later to a group of roughly 60 students, parents and faculty members on Thursday evening. Jay, who began his media career as an independent documentary filmmaker, talked about the importance of the immediate decisions people make regarding the future. “This generation will be the generation to decide if we continue to exist.”

According to Jay, people still have a misconception that things will soon go back to normal. However, “We have gotten to a point at which we can never go back to the way life used to be,” he said, discussing the mainstream media’s and the Obama administration’s oversimplification of the new economic stimulus bill.
Jay’s Real News Network is run solely on donations, following the funding plan discovered and used by the Howard Dean Presidential Campaign in 2004. “Nobody knew if people would be trusting enough to give financial information over the internet,” he said. “Dean’s campaign was the first to show that this was possible.”

What makes the Real News Network unique other than its funding method is that the network has reporters embedded in all areas of the world that are native to the areas that they are covering. The RNN has Arabs reporting from Gaza, Chinese reporting from China, and Afghans reporting from Afghanistan. Jay said the RNN is looking to start a San Francisco branch, and he recruited a group of USF students to get the branch started after his second talk of the day at USF.

“I think that the Real News Network is a network that is going to appeal to a lot of people who don’t usually watch news,” said senior media studies major and Davies Forum student Stephanie Luu, who said she sees shortcomings in the new network. “People like what’s convenient,” she said. “I’m not sure how convenient the Real News Network is because it’s only on the internet.”

Soon, Jay plans to take his network to television and hopes to get enough support from donors to keep the network alive. The RNN can be found at http://www.therealnews.com.