<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 April 24, 2014 | Issue #67


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Opening Statement, April 18, 2000
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Help Me Become a Better Journalist Than I've Ever Been

The School of Authentic Journalism Teaches Us How to Report on the Struggles We Believe In


By Hanna Nikkanen
Class of 2011, School of Authentic Journalism

April 25, 2011

When I was about seven, I was all about becoming an independent war reporter. I’d type up reports about imagined battles in China on my mother’s old travel typewriter, and my brother would draw highly anachronistic warships on them. In my dreams I’d grow up to become a professional adventurer, donning a helmet and a Kevlar vest to rush to the crossfire in the crisis zone du jour.


Hanna Nikkanen
I never grew completely out of that love for stupid risk-taking, but I put it on ice, learning instead to type very fast and wear a pantsuit to press conferences. (Both can be good skills, I’m not knocking them, but they wear you out if they take up too much space in your life.) The more time passed, the more I wanted to find a different way of being a journalist. I didn’t want to be the reckless Rambo of my childhood dreams nor the weary scribe with ambitions focused on career instead of content – both options seemed fairly irrelevant in this world of changes and struggles. I wanted to do something else, something more useful.

In March I finally found myself talking about that “something else” with a bunch of people I had never met before. I was in Madrid, Spain where the Narco News crew had teamed up with the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict to teach journalists and activists about citizen journalism and civil resistance. I was finally surrounded with people whose journalistic dreams felt similar to mine – people from Bahrain, Egypt, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and more than a dozen other places.

We talked about why helmets and Kevlar are usually not a good idea for a journalist and how it’s not very productive to rush from one conflict to the next on an adrenaline high, how the best stories aren’t found at riots nor at press conferences, how to challenge authority, engage our audience, and get our stories to go viral. We talked about what each one of us considered important in our work, the things we wanted to influence, the ways in which we could become more useful for the struggles we believe in.

Soon I’ll be learning even bigger things at the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism in Mexico. Of course I’m excited, and I’m sure the seven-year-old me would be, too, even if there are no helmets or explosions involved.

Please make a donation today, online, at this link:

http://www.authenticjournalism.org

Or you can make a check out to:

The Fund for Authentic Journalism
PO Box 1446
Easthampton, MA 01027 USA

But I’m not asking you to donate money to Narco News just because my seven-year-old self would love that. I’m asking you to donate money to Narco News because with their help I’ll become a better journalist than I’ve ever been. A more useful one.

Thank you,
Hanna Nikkanen
Helsinki, Finland

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