<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 August 30, 2014 | Issue #60


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Help Independent Journalists Learn to Operate their “Weapons” and Perfect Their Aim


By Kristin Bricker
Special to The Narco News Bulletin

September 22, 2009

When School of Authentic Journalism President Al Giordano was forming the Narco News road team to follow Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos’ tour of Mexico in 2006, he asked us what “weapons” we carried. I told him I had a pen, a pad of paper, a digital audio recorder, and a dying laptop.

As any insurgent knows, even the most powerful weapon is useless if you don’t know how to use it. Even worse, your enemy could use your weapon against you.

That’s why Narco News needs you to donate to the Fund for Authentic Journalism, which finances this newspaper and its School of Authentic Journalism. Honduras is under coup rule, Colombia is looking more and more like the US military’s home away from home, and increasing violence (as well as the much-anticipated revolutionary centennial in 2010) is pushing Mexico towards a tipping point. At the other end of the spectrum, exciting developments in democratic governance are happening in Bolivia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Ecuador, and other Latin American countries. In short, this continent called America needs authentic independent journalists and all the “firepower” we can muster.

Your donation to the Fund for Authentic Journalism will help train a new cadre of independent journalists. Thanks to a matching grant from the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, your donation will be doubled. You can make a contribution online at this link.

Or you can send a check to:

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

Your donation will train the best and brightest aspiring journalists, because the School of Authentic Journalism is free, and 24 scholarships are available to cover travel, room, and board. This means that, even in the current financial crisis, no brilliant independent reporter will have to sit out this j-school simply because he or she doesn’t have the money.

Ready, Aim, Fire

I’m excited about the 2010 j-school. In addition to being a professor, I’ll be a student. The 2010 j-school will be the first time I will have received formal journalism training. All of my training up to this point has been “learn-as-you-go.” I’ve learned through experience, and from the indispensable guidance of the Narco News team.

In 2006 during Subcomandante Marcos’ 2006 Other Campaign tour of Mexico, for example, I didn’t have the slightest idea how to use my weapons. I had published very few articles, and I’d never conducted an interview. Shooting questions in a foreign language to people I didn’t know seemed frightening. I remember arriving in the middle of the Sonoran desert with j-school 2010 professor Amber Howard. Even though she’d never been there before, she hopped off the bus with a huge grin on her face and said, “I’m going to go conduct interviews.” As I watched her happily skip away to interview people she’d never met before, I thought, “I want to be able to do that.” Interviewing “los de abajo” (“those from below”) in the Sonoran desert came easy for Amber—she’d cut her journalism teeth as a student in the 2004 j-school interviewing Bolivian military officials about coca eradication.

Even though I brought very little experience to the table in 2006, Al Giordano traveled with us, and we were in constant communication about what had to be published and how it should be written.

Al and I have stayed in constant contact, and from him I’ve learned how to use the power of the Internet as a weapon in the fight for social justice. When I began my learning process with the Narco News team in 2006, the corporate media was just beginning to realize that the internet was the new media. Al already had that figured out six years earlier in 2000 when he founded Narco News. When the media industry stumbled upon the power of the Internet in 2006, Al already had the art of online news media down to a science.

In addition to learning to use the Internet as a weapon in the struggle for democracy, Al continues to help me with my aim. Sometimes I’ll pitch a story to Al and he’ll ask me, “What is your goal in writing that? How do you want people to react to that news? Do you want to scare them or depress them or move them to action?” Then he’ll help me aim at a more strategic target.

I’ve come as far as I have with Al and other Narco News team members helping me as I need it. I’m excited to see what I can do after a ten-day intensive training with the likes of Jeremy Bigwood, TeleSUR’s Reed Lindsay, Teo Ballve, Jill Freidberg, Venezuelan Minister Blanca Eekhout, Oscar Olivera, and the rest of the 2010 School of Authentic Journalism professors.

But the School and the continued journalism of Narco News depend on the small contributions of many readers and supporters to do so much. So please make sure we meet the goal of this fund drive in a timely manner so that we can keep reporting the news to you and train still more to do the same.

Again, you can donate online at this link:

http://www.authenticjournalism.org

Or send a check to:

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

Thank you for your continued support,

Kristin Bricker
Mexico correspondent, Narco News

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