Now More Than Ever The World Needs The School of Authentic Journalism
Posted by - February 19, 2017 at 7:01 pm
It is a time of deep social conflict in the United States, Mexico, and throughout much of the world. Amid this conflict, The School of Authentic Journalism provides an effective laboratory where we study and teach how to communicate the objectives and stories of social movements that seek to transform the world, and our view of it, for the better. Our work is to tell stories - and help others tell their own stories - in ways that make movements stronger, more effective and victorious. But only with your support will the 2017 school be possible, and you can do so here.
We have no endowment and our only financial support comes from readers and supporters to a nonprofit organization, The Fund for Authentic Journalism. We are a team of united individuals who share our ideas, knowledge, and our own time to train journalists to cover and support the struggles our world so desperately needs.
Each year, the School of Authentic Journalism invites between 40 and 80 talented journalists and organizers to learn a unique form of struggle based on strategic media skills and nonviolent civil resistance. $30,000 is the minimum it costs to make a Spanish language session happen. However, if we raise $70,000, we'll be able to host a longer bilingual school in 2017 for English speakers too.
These are essential skills for a world that seems to have been suddenly immersed in a politics of hate that threatens to roll back our hard won victories, and expose our vulnerabilities. If we let them win, we could lose our rights.
During the last few months, many have gone to the streets, some have fought back using the courts, and still others are unsure of what to do and who to join. Our school is made for people who may or may not have the answers, but who want to learn the tactics of strategic nonviolence, and strengthen the movements with whom they feel an affinity through new techniques for reporting and communicating, both within the ranks of a movement, and also to the outside world.
In our school I have gotten to know people that changed the course of their communities' histories like Mkhuseli "Khusta" Jack, organizer of one of the more effective boycotts during the struggle against apartheid in South Africa; Johanna Lawrenson, photographer and organizer who together with her late husband Abbie Hoffman, led creative and successful movements from upstate New York to Nicaragua; Rev. James Lawson, who changed the course of the Civil Rights' movement when he organized sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in Nashville in 1959; Mercedes Osuna, who helped train thousands of journalists and volunteers in support of the Zapatista rebellion in Mexico; and Renny Cushing, a U.S. community organizer who in the early 1980s stopped the growth of nuclear energy in its tracks.
In our school, you don't have to be affiliated with one particular struggle or ideology because what we teach can be applied to many different movements. We examine which strategies work, and which don't. Learning to ask the right questions and imagining possible outcomes is part of what we do.
The School of Authentic Journalism redefines the relationships traditionally found within schools and among journalists, questioning the respective roles of journalists, organizers and social movement participants. It is a school that goes beyond teaching mere information and is instead draws on personal experience as its primary teaching material. Its methodology was the creation of Al Giordano, who after moving to Mexico, founded the independent online newspaper Narco News, dedicated to reporting on the deadly consequences that the never-ending US-backed "War on Drugs" has had on much of Latin America, and which also reports the stories of social movements from throughout the American continent.
Giordano believes that journalism, as well as community organizing, are key for making change in this world, and that they both require similar skills. And years ago, when young people from around the world asked him if they could work with him in the Narco News offices, he and a team of international fellow journalists launched the first session of the School of Authentic Journalism in 2002.
Al created the school to honor the work of the teachers and mentors that taught him, and he chose the term "authentic" in recognition of Mario Menendez, the Mexican journalist and publisher of Yucatan's "¡Por Esto!" who coined the term "authentic journalism" in reference to a kind of journalism which is always in the service of social movements and their interests.
My name is Fabiola Rocha. I am the co-Director of the school. I first attended a ten-day session as a scholar in 2013, and I left the school motivated and transformed, with new colleagues from all across the world. When the course was over, I was sure of one thing: I was ready for the fight. I knew also that my fight was to support other struggles, and that my place is in the rhizome which is the School of Authentic Journalism. It is here that I can fight, shoulder to shoulder, alongside people who choose to combat poverty, racism, sexual violence, discrimination, and in many more struggles.
This is a time for us to become stronger. Some of us are immigrants, gay people, women, and minorities, who find ourselves immediately threatened. Some of us are not, but we are allies. When we defend the rights of others, we defend our own vision of what life can and should be for all of us.
Projects born from the grassroots and funded by individuals are accountable only to the values on which they are founded. Such is the case with The School of Authentic Journalism. Each year, The School of Authentic Journalism asks for your help in order to hold a new session, and the circumstances of this year makes this request even more urgent. Make sure this project continues. Donate what you can, whether it is one dollar or a thousand dollars. The amount is not important.
What is important is that you participate, and help us to build and maintain a project that can, literally, change the world.