<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
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Announcing 24 Scholarships in Authentic Journalism for February of 2010

Journalism and Civil Resistance to Be the Theme of the Ten-Day Intensive Training on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula


By Al Giordano
President, School of Authentic Journalism

September 17, 2009

Today we announce that Narco News will grant 24 scholarships for up-and-coming journalists and communicators to attend a ten-day session of the School of Authentic Journalism on February 3 to 13 of 2010 on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.


School of Authentic Journalism professor (and now President of Bolivia) Evo Morales leads a discussion at the 2004 session in Cochabamba. D.R. 2004 Jeremy Bigwood.
All scholars accepted will receive intensive training in investigative reporting, documentary film-making, viral video production, use of new media technologies, photojournalism, safety when reporting in conflict zones, use of the Freedom of Information Act to make government documents public, how to write a news story, how to use a cell phone camera, making effective media criticism and other work skills.

We will also share, discuss and debate the ethical and philosophical underpinnings of authentic journalism, and develop in ourselves a better understanding of the strategic dynamics of social and civil resistance movements of the kind that increasingly turn to grassroots journalism to narrate their history, organize communities and change the world.


Authentic Journalism Scholar Blanca Eekhout (now Venezuela’s Minister of Communications and Information) and professor Charlie Hardy at the 2003 session on Isla Mujeres, Mexico. D.R. 2003 Jeremy Bigwood.
No tuition will be charged to any student. Some students will receive additional scholarships for food, lodging and/or travel to and from the School.

The School is also unique in that it counts with more professors than students. Each student will have at least one faculty advisor to counsel and coach you as, during the School, you author or produce works of journalism in real time.

Among the confirmed faculty members are many of the most respected and fiercely independent journalists, communicators and organizers in the hemisphere:

Mario Menéndez Rodríguez * Blanca Eekhout * Jeremy Bigwood * Mercedes Osuna * Reed Lindsay * Bill Conroy * Oscar Olivera * Karen Vargas * Celeo Alvarez Casildo * Ivan Marovic * Lourdes Zuazo * Howard Barrell * Luisa Ortiz * Charlie Hardy * Laura del Castillo * Dan Feder * Natalia Viana * Gregory Berger * Jill Freidberg * Noah Friedman-Rudovsky * Sunny Angulo * Roddy Brett * Quetzal Belmont * Renán Castro * Lisandro Coronado Alcocer * Paloma García * Amber Howard * Barrett Hawes * Teo Ballvé * Helena Klang * Jesse Freeston * Ben Melancon * Jack DuVall * Vanessa Ortiz * Erin Rosa * Anne Vigna * Tim Russo * Ellen Fields * Jim Fields * Bruce Miller * George Sánchez * Andrew Stelzer * Joshua Bregman * Kristin Bricker * David Briones * Chris Fee * Al Giordano

(These professors – journalists and organizers – work in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, the United States, Venezuela, Europe and other lands. Read more about them here.)

To receive an application in English, send an email to: app@narconews.com

To receive an application in Spanish, send an email to: sol@narconews.com

Completed applications are due on November 1 and scholarship recipients will be announced around November 15.

The scholarships are available to anyone, regardless of age, nationality, gender, race, ethnicity, creed, sexual orientation or political opinion as long as you are fluent in either Spanish or English. All sessions of the school will be translated real time in both languages.

At the 2010 j-school we will be making much of the curriculum quickly available to the global public, free of charge, via online viral videos. All scholars will be required to work and collaborate in producing those videos and in reporting supporting news stories to be published on Narco News.

Journalism at a Crossroads

When your correspondent left the United States to report from Latin America in 1997, sixty percent of the citizens of that country still read a daily newspaper. Today, that number has dwindled down to 30 percent.


Scholars and professors work together and dine together during the ten day intensive j-school. D.R. 2003 Jeremy Bigwood.
As the major news media suffers its crisis of credibility, media like Narco News are increasingly supplanting and replacing them. Many of the people doing that work graduated from our 2003 j-school in Mexico and 2004 session in Bolivia, or participated in the Other Journalism nationwide reporting project in Mexico in 2006.

Just as Narco News – the first online newspaper to win First Amendment protections from the US courts in 2001, establishing the legal precedent that has allowed Internet journalism to thrive and compete with old media – is known for a different kind of journalism, the School of Authentic Journalism seeks to train and develop a different kind of journalist.

The Narco News School of Authentic Journalism does not charge tuition to any student, and for those that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to attend we pay all or part of your travel, room and board. In other words, you won’t be chosen for this program based on your ability to pay, but, rather, based on the quality and potential of your work and your dedication to it.


Class of ‘04 graduates Natalia Viana and Amber Howard will return in 2010 as part of the teaching staff. Here, on a Bolivian military helicopter during the 2004 sessions while reporting and filming a coca eradication operation for the student-produced documentary, “Chew on This.” D.R. 2004 Jeremy Bigwood.
This generosity is made possible because our professors donate their time as volunteers and because our readers contribute hundreds of small donations that add up to an online newspaper and a j-school.

The 2010 School of Authentic Journalism, likewise, will happen because you, the readers, meet the following challenge: $20,000 in matching support has been offered to help fund the j-school by the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict. If, together through small contributions, you, the readers, donate an equal amount to the nonprofit and tax-exempt Fund for Authentic Journalism, the j-school will happen on schedule in February 2010. We have no doubt that you will rise to the occasion as you have time and time again.

In fact, you can make a contribution right now, online, at this link.

Or you can send a check to:

The Fund for Authentic Journalism
PO Box 241
Natick, MA 01760

This will mark the first time in more than five years that we’ve been able to convene our ten-day program, a School from which many of our professors graduated in years prior. Those graduates-turned-professors include Reed Lindsay, Washington bureau chief of TeleSur, Venezuela Minister of Information and Communications Blanca Eekhout, TV anchor Sunny Angulo of The Global Report, Brazilian investigative journalist Natalia Viana, daily newspaper reporter George Sánchez, photojournalist in Bolivia Noah Friedman-Rudovsky, documentary filmmaker in Mexico Gregory Berger, Mexican TV news producer Quetzal Belmont, reporters that have worked extensively in Colombia such as Laura del Castillo, Dan Feder and Teo Ballvé, video producer Barrett Hawes, radio news reporter Andrew Stelzer and others with a broad range of experiences and skills to teach.

Journalism and Civil Resistance


Honduran Agrarian rights lawyer and community organizer Karen Vargas. D.R. 2009 ODECO.
The 2010 School, with its emphasis on Journalism and Civil Resistance, will also include some of the outstanding social movement leaders of América and the world: union leader Oscar Olivera of Bolivia who helped lead the Water Wars of 2000 and national blockades of 2003 to 2005 that toppled three successive presidents, Afro-Honduran leaders Celeo Alvarez Casildo and Karen Vargas who founded the School of Leaders for community organizers in Honduras, former organizer with the African National Congress Howard Barrell and Ivan Marovic, who as a youth helped lead the movement that toppled the Milosevic dictatorship in Serbia, among others. Students and professors alike will complete the 2010 j-school with a deeper understanding of the dynamics and strategies of the social movements and civil resistances that we cover.


Narco News publisher Al Giordano introduces Mario Menéndez Rodríguez in Mérida, Mexico during the 2003 session, with a copy of the daily Por Esto! with the headline “Periodismo Auténtico” (“Authentic Journalism”). D.R. 2003 Jeremy Bigwood.
They’ll be joined by experienced journalists like Mario Menéndez Rodríguez, founder and publisher of Mexico’s third largest daily newspaper, Por Esto!, veteran war correspondent, photojournalist and Freedom of Information Act expert Jeremy Bigwood, TeleSur reporter Lourdes Zuazo, Tim Russo of Comppa (Comunicador@s Populares por la Autonomía), PBS documentary executive producer Jack DuVall, Argentina public television journalist Paloma García, The Real News producer Jesse Freeston, Mexican new media pioneer Luisa Ortiz, and all of us on the Narco News team, among others. Consult the confirmed faculty list, here.

As you can see, the professors have a very broad and diverse set of experiences, backgrounds and opinions, which will greatly animate the philosophical and ethical discussions we will all have together on matters of press freedom, democracy, political action, strategy and tactics. Not all of us agree on everything. That also makes for a better and more interesting j-school.

The journalistic work of the School will be done through four work groups:

  • Investigative Journalism
  • Documentary Filmmaking
  • Viral Video Production
  • Online Reporting and Media Criticism


Publisher Mario Menéndez Rodríguez convenes a town meeting public assembly of readers and journalists in Tixkokob, Yucatán. D.R. 2003 Jeremy Bigwood.
Scholarship recipients will also attend a Town Meeting by the staff of the daily Por Esto! on the Yucatán Peninsula, tour its printing press and newsroom, and see first hand how this unique daily newspaper – with its pioneering methods of involving the community in its reporting – has grown in circulation during the very years when most others in the hemisphere have lost readership.

And because you’ll be working so hard, day and night, part of our sessions will be held near the beach, and there will be some social events and celebrations, too.


Quetzal Belmont and Karla Aguilar (class of ‘04), with class of ‘03 graduates-turned-professors Sunny Angulo and Andrew Stelzer in the studios of community Radio Chapare during the school’s visit to that Amazon region in 2004. Belmont, Angulo and Stelzer will return to the 2010 session as teaching staff. D.R. 2004 Jeremy Bigwood.
Perhaps the greatest contributions this School has made since it began in 2003 have been the lasting bonds constructed between its participants, who have gone on to visit and collaborate with each other in our respective lands and beats. We’re confident that, if you apply and are chosen for a scholarship, you will come out of this intensive ten day “boot camp” in authentic journalism with vastly enhanced skills at – and understanding of – this craft, and an international network of friends, colleagues and allies to collaborate with in the years ahead.

And so I repeat, if you think the School of Authentic Journalism is for you, or might be helpful to a friend, family member or colleague with talent and social conscience at journalism, email us for an application today.

To receive an application in English, send an email to: app@narconews.com

To receive an application in Spanish, send an email to: sol@narconews.com

Completed applications are due on November 1 and scholarship recipients will be announced around November 15.

The door is open. Walk through it and you may well find the future of real journalism, and yourself as an important part of it.

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