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.

Telling stories to change the world

CIP scientist Willy Pradel explains his research at a mock press conference. Image: David Poulson

CIP scientist Willy Pradel explains his research at a mock press conference. Image: David Poulson

By David Poulson

Jan Kreuze stood in front of a room full of reporters and began shredding paper.

“This is how a plant attacks a virus,” the researcher explained.

Then he bent over and gathered up the pieces. Reassembling them with a computer program is an easier, cheaper way of getting a picture of the disease than sifting through the genetics of an entire plant, he said. And that could lead to better strategies for fighting it. Continue reading

Field trip: Teaching journalists and scientists on two continents

Malawi researcher Phillip Kamwendo, with hat, explains experiment in groundnut production to African journalists . Image: David Poulson

Malawi researcher Phillip Kamwendo, with hat, explains crop experiments to African journalists . Image: David Poulson

By David Poulson

Phillip Kamwendo finished explaining to a group of African reporters how he used “friendly bacteria” to improve groundnut seeds.

Then the Malawi researcher turned to a nearby team led by Michigan State University experts, flashed them a wide grin and gave them two thumbs up. It was a highlight for our team that had worked for days with Kamwendo and others at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) to refine how to explain their research.

“When he asked the reporters how many of them understood what an innoculant was, I felt like a proud grandmother,” said Emmanuella Delva, a program officer with USAID, the project’s funder,  and who pitched in on the training.

Amol Pavangadkar, director of MSU's Sandbox Studios, explains video production techniques to Malawian journalists

Amol Pavangadkar, director of MSU’s Sandbox Studios, explains video production techniques to Malawian journalists. Image: David Poulson

The work in Malawi was the start of a two-continent, three-country training tour that I’m still on.  I’m in Rwanda now, working with other scientists – including two MSU alums – at the International Potato Center to help them explain their research story to funders and others. Next week I’m in Lima, Peru, doing the same thing at that center’s South American headquarters.

The work in Malawi was by far the most complex. Continue reading

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.”

Continue reading