<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 15, 2018 | Issue #67

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Al Giordano

Opening Statement, April 18, 2000
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We Need Authentic Journalists Who Will Tell The Stories And The Strategies Of Resistance

The basics of journalism, media production, and storytelling are important.

By Karina Hurtado
School of Authentic Journalism 2016

February 28, 2017

I originally applied to the School of Authentic Journalism to learn how to tell the story of organized communities in New York City. The story of immigrant and women-led grassroots organizing is a powerful one. However, working against an enemy as vicious as capitalism, I’ve seen organizers become overwhelmed by the seemingly limited impact of their work.

Karina Hurtado during the School of Authentic Journalism 2016

Since the “election” of Donald Trump, organizers in their communities cycle rapidly between feelings of having meaningful impact and helplessness in a single day. These emotions are felt doubly when our corporate-sponsored papers and algorithm-inspired newsfeeds are filled with state-sanctioned murders, violence, and raids, but the voices of people directly affected by injustice are absent.

Prior to Trump, I had seen a consistent lapse in memory of how truly powerful and globally significant organized communities are. I saw my role in creative storytelling and as a creator of culture as a way to contribute during moments of burn-out. A way to document people’s history during moments of victory. Now more than ever I am convinced of the importance of journalism that is strategic, entertaining, and unrelentless in its support for social justice.

This is precisely what I saw reflected even just in filling out the application for the School of Authentic Journalism: an interest in telling stories that would keep us moving no matter the circumstance.

We are a network of journalists, media makers, entertainers and community organizers. Although we were together for a little under a week, students and teachers alike continue building on the relationships we developed during that time.

The school provided intensive hands-on training in production, political education, and community building. As a video journalist, the technical training in audio editing provided an essential skill I still needed to develop to strengthen my stories. As an educator, I appreciated seeing concepts as intimidating as graphic design broken down in a way so that anyone could use it in their media.

The “cop-watcher” in me was grateful to see everyone get trained by a practicing organizer and journalist on safety procedures and best practices when reporting stories in occupied territories or under heavy state surveillance. Despite the dynamic trainings, this is not what continues to leave an impact long after the training is over. What makes the School of Authentic Journalism a profound experience for most is being in a place with journalists and long-time organizers who are also unapologetically in love with their communities and committed to telling their stories.

It’s a place where the borders built between “journalist” and “subject,” and held together by the myth of objectivity, are broken down. Journalists become a part of a larger organized community, not limited by geography, and committed to advancing social justice. Every attendee adopts into their toolbox for impactful storytelling a little bit of organizing, political education, and entertainment.

Less than a month into the Trump presidency, U.S. communities have been threatened with a Muslim ban, the criminalization of abortion, the full support of repeatedly racist police departments, the dismantling of the National Endowment of the Arts and an education secretary with financial connections to student debt collectors, easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline, complete and total disregard for the contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and many more direct threats to our basic human rights.

Now more than ever we need authentic journalists who will tell the stories and the strategies of resistance. The stories of the Yemeni bodega owners and the South Asian taxi drivers who striked against the Muslim ban in New York City, the African-American mother who lead an action commemorating 5 years since her son’s murder by a racist police department across the Brooklyn Bridge to show solidarity with the strikers, the young people who physically blocked an ICE bus threatening to deport their friend’s mother and one of Trump’s first deportees.

More importantly, we need a global network through which to share those stories with other organized communities. If I were to summarize the most important lesson learned at the school it would be this: The basics of journalism, media production, and storytelling are important. These skills alone will not bring about justice. We must be intentional in how we employ such skills.

They must be our chosen weapons as journalists waging nonviolent war against a repeatedly violent and always systemic oppressor. The strength of our relationships- built on trust, integrity and mojitos- is the force with which our weapon strikes our opponent.

Please Donate to the School of Authentic Journalism 2017 so this work can continue.

Thank you.

Karina Hurtado

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