Belmont: We Work Without Handcuffs
Belmont: We Work Without Handcuffs
November 23, 2009
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I didn’t imagine in July of 2004 that my life would take a sudden turn. In Mexico, I grabbed a backpack, packed essential clothes and in a suitcase apart I carefully placed a video camera, still camera and audio recorder.
My destination was Bolivia, where I didn’t know anyone, but I arrived at the home of now-Vice President Álvaro García Linera, with whom I had exchanged emails during a talk he had given in Mexico in which he spoke about the gas wars in his country. It was that talk that convinced me that I had to go to Bolivia, and so I went.
Álvaro put me in contact with journalists in La Paz. For the first weeks I stayed in a cheap hotel at which every little while the alarm rang to mark the entrance or exit of clients. Daily I went to meetings to cover the national referendum on nationalization of gas.
I wanted to report from Senkata, then a conflict zone in the city of El Alto. During each day I would file various radio reports amid indigenous peoples, military soldiers, police, burning tires and dynamite explosions (some of the inhabitants of the area are former miners). All to the cry of: “Nacionalización… Carajo!!! At times I would cross paths there with Brad Will (the independent video reporter assassinated in 2005 in Oaxaca, Mexico, during the APPO uprising).
Upon leaving Senkata is when Al Giordano, Narco News and Authentic Journalism appeared in my life, a trio that are really one and the same. Some journalist colleagues suggested to Giordano that he bring me as a student at his school and after various talks he accepted.
It was at that moment that I found another way to do journalism, another way to tell about things, of people able to see a mirror but also what is behind that mirror and not to be content only with what is in front to me. A journalism for which the word “authentic” is not an adjective but, rather, a way of doing things, a way of life combined with honesty and commitment.
It is not just a personal commitment but also a social and human one, a truth of our own, a truth that we try to demonstrate in the most dignified way possible. It is complicated to speak of “objectivity,” if, for example, when one looks at a painting from different points of view one’s vision of it changes. We want our vision to be transparent, without manipulation, and from that surges the importance of not being part of the big media monopolies that surely mutilates or distorts reality in “the news.”
Being at the School of Authentic Journalism, one obtains the tools, knowledge and contacts to then be able to develop one self on that terrain, in action, to be able to construct and tell history, stories that will echo in far corners of the world whether through radio, video or written word.
Stories that can tell, denounce or demonstrate part of a reality. Stories that we tell another way. That’s why I write to invite you to financially support this grand nest that is the J-School, a nest that is growing many birds and teaching them to fly. Birds of distinct colors, forms and species that come from different regions of the world.
I can tell that after living this experience, the lives of each who attend will change. It is a part of personal and professional growth.
Owing to the space and support that I have had from Narco News, after attending the 2004 School, I have collaborated in reporting on the Zapatista Other Campaign and inform about what happened in Atenco in May 2006 (when a federal police raid invated the town of San Salvador Atenco, Mexico, where they violently beat and sexually abused the people).
From the School there comes continuous work, heading out onto the “battlefield” with a pen, a notebook, a camera or a recorder, ready to “shoot”: to shoot words, images, letters, sounds, with one goal: tell and portray our vision and share it.
Finally I can say that I see myself and my colleages as people who have our hearts in our hands, politically and socially, we are people that try not to lose ourselves in the demands of daily life, in the standards of the big media businesses. We work without handcuffs, but at times what ties us down is a lack of resources. And yet not even that stops us. We continue, continue…
Please donate today via this link:
Or you can send a check to:
The Fund for Authentic Journalism
PO Box 241
Natick, MA 01760 USA
We would very much appreciate your support to make this School happen again and to be able to continue broadcasting our work to more people and corners of this earth.
A hug for all,
School of Authentic Journalism, Graduate and Professor