Category Archives: Workshops

The Knight Center for Environmental Journalism organizes workshops to help journalists better report on the environment in the U.S. and abroad. Information about recent and upcoming conferences is posted here.

Knight Center director studies journalists after prison

World Press Freedom DayJournalists around the world face prison for practicing their profession in ways that antagonize regimes, militaries, oligarchs and other powerful interests. What they do after their release — whether in their home country or in exile — is the topic of a new study that Knight Center director Eric Freedman recently presented at the Academic Conference on the Safety of Journalists in Jakarta, Indonesia, sponsored by UNESCO and Hong Kong Baptist University.

His paper is based on in-depth interviews with eight journalists who had been imprisoned and then returned to journalism, communications or journalism education.  Six were jailed in their home countries — Syria, Cameroon, Azerbaijan, Eritrea and Ethiopia.  Two American journalists who had been imprisoned in other countries, Iran and the Soviet Union, were interviewed as well.  The study also incorporates interviews with psychologists Hawthorne Smith and Katherine Porterfield, who work with journalists through the Bellevue Hospital/New York University Program for Survivors of Torture.

While each journalist’s experience during and after prison is unique, some common themes emerged from the interviews:

  • Psychological aspects, including post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Fear
  • Not working after release
  • Self-exile
  • Being back on the job
  • Resilience
  • Continued commitment to journalism’s mission
  • Understanding the risks
  • Career changes
  • Being the news

“The findings may help press rights advocates, news organizations, professional groups and fellow journalists better assist released journalists to transition back into their careers,” Freedman said.

The study is part of his research for the past 15 years about constraints on journalism and press freedom internationally.

Interviewed were:

  • Ali Al-Ibrahim, an investigative journalist and war correspondent, was detained twice in Syria, first by the Bashir al-Assad regime in 2011 for two months and then by the Islamic State in 2013 for two months. He is now an investigative documentary filmmaker and freelancer.
  • Housam al-Mosilli, a Syrian journalist and translator, was arrested and tortured three times in 2011-2012. Now in Sweden, he writes political articles for magazines and works as a translator.
  • Shane Bauer, an American freelancer based in Damascus, was arrested in 2009 after allegedly straying across the Iranian border from Iraqi Kurdistan while on holiday. He was convicted of espionage and illegal entry and sentenced to eight years and is now a senior writer for Mother Jones magazine.
  • Dessale Berekhet, a columnist and author from Eritrea, was jailed for six months and tortured before release in 2008. He now works in Norway.
  • Nicholas Daniloff, an American, was the U.S. News & World Report magazine bureau chief in Moscow when the KGB arrested him in 1986 on suspicion of espionage. He was jailed for two weeks and then held under house arrest for 1 month. He is now a retired Northeastern University journalism professor.
  • Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative reporter and contributor to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Azerbaijan, was arrested in 2014 and sentenced to 7½ years on fabricated charges, including tax evasion and embezzlement. Authorities conditionally released her in May 2016 but barred her reporting at the time of my interview. She later resumed journalism in her country.
  • George Ngwa was editor-in-chief of Radio Cameroon when he was arrested in 1983. Authorities interrogated him for two weeks. He is now chief of the meetings coverage section of the UN News and Media Division.
  • Tesfalem Waldyes, a freelance journalist in Ethiopia, was arrested in 2014, charged with terrorism and freed in 2015. He now works for Deutsche Welle in Germany

The academic conference was part of UNESCO’s annual World Press Freedom Day conference, “Critical Issues for Critical Times: Media’s Role in Advancing Peaceful Just and Inclusive Societies.”

 

Water art: photographer chases storms, ice to document changing planet’s beauty

Camille Seaman

Camille Seaman

By Kate Habrel

Environmental photographer Camille Seaman saw the sky rotating when she worked as a storm chaser.

“It was so visceral,” she said. “I looked up and for a second, I was no longer on the planet. Suddenly it was like I was in a nebula watching a star being formed. And as soon as I felt that, I was back.”

This deep connection to nature has been present Seaman’s entire life. Her heritage as a Shinnecock Indian informs and inspires her photography in a powerful way.

Seaman recently visited Michigan State University, where her exhibition “All My Relations: An Indigenous Perspective on Landscape” is displayed at the MSU Museum until September. It features photographs from two of her extended projects, “Melting Away” and “The Big Cloud.”

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Photographer helps others eye how people shape the Earth

Eyes on EarthBy Natasha Blakely

Dennis Dimick

Dennis Dimick

Dennis Dimick has worked as a journalist and photographer and with students and schools.

But those achievements pale in comparison to his daughters, he said.

“All the work that I’ve been doing, magazine editing, coming to schools, trying to proselytize on these issues, I think that’s all very good and important,” Dimick said. “But I think the most important thing I’ve ever been able to do is produce two young, active, engaged future citizens of society.”

Dimick, the retired environment editor of National Geographic, recently visited Michigan State University to help produce more. He attended journalism classes as a guest, lectured, critiqued work and participated in a Q&A, all of that as part of his work with Eyes on Earth.

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Knight Center hosts free Grand Rapids workshop on covering rivers

The Knight Center for Environmental Journalism will host a free one-day workshop on Saturday, April 1, for journalists about reporting on river issues as diverse as pollution, wetlands, habitat restoration, water recreation, shoreline development and dam removal.

“Covering the Grand River — Covering Any River” workshop is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the L.V. Eberhard Center on Grand Valley State University’s downtown Grand Rapids campus. It’s open to staff and freelance journalists in any media. Lunch is free. Enrollment is limited.

Presenters will be from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, GVSU’s Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute and Environmental Health News. A riverfront walking tour (rain or shine) will be led by the Grand Valley Metro Council’s director of environmental programs.

The Knight Center, which is part of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, held a similar workshop last year in Lansing that focused on covering drinking water in the aftermath of the Flint water crisis.

For information or to register, email Barb Miller at mille384@msu.edu or call 517-432-1415.

This event is part of the year of water festivities.

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