A School For People That Believe The World Can Get Better

By Memo Bautista
A year ago, a friend sent me via Facebook a call for applications to the School of Authentic Journalism. Before then, I knew nothing about it. I did some research and it caught my attention that I could receive a course on how to cover social movements. And also, it would not cost anything because all students are granted a scholarship. In Mexico we lack real training to work on this kind of phenomena, so I decided to apply.
I was expecting an application similar to others, in which you propose a subject to report on, you present a couple of works of your own, the résumé where you show off some award and the good old letter of recommendation. But no. What I got was a long questionnaire that, although it did ask about my professional background, was mostly focused on discovering the human being behind the reporter, and his way of thinking. Even the unusual interview conducted by Al Giordano himself, founder and president of the school, had that intention. I realized this after being accepted.
Shortly after that, I found myself in a school that breaks every traditional convention, favoring practice, the sharing of ideas and, above all, joy, as a teaching tool. There, journalists, activists, and any person that believes this world can be better, are trained to cover social movements, write real stories, authentic stories that dig into the subject and thus play a role in truly supporting that cause. And not only that, they are also trained in nonviolent civil resistance actions that lead to the success of that movement.
The quality of the professors participating in the School of Authentic Journalism is rarely seen in universities. It’s not about their academic level, but about their humanity. With their conviction and their struggles they have changed the history of their countries and you can live side by side with them in an environment where they become more schoolmates than teachers. There is Mkhuseli ‘Khusta’ Jack, who organized the economic boycott in Port Elizabeth, which meant the beginning of the end of South African apartheid; Mercedes Osuna, organizer on behalf of indigenous and peasant groups in Chiapas, who has trained hundreds of journalists on safety in conflict zones, as well as the responsibility of the reporter to keep the movements he is covering safe; Renny Cushing, who mobilized the people of his community and stopped the construction of the nuclear plant that was to be built at Seabrook, New Hampshire; and Al Giordano himself, who became a legend in the world of freedom of speech when he won a case against Banamex in New York, after writing a series of articles where he exposed that the chairman of the bank was involved in drug trafficking.
In some way, these characters pass on the baton to the next generation so that we continue struggling. It doesn’t matter if the tyranny wears the face of Donald Trump or Enrique Peña Nieto, at the School of Authentic Journalism they show us that as long as there’s organization, hope and resolve, our fights can prevail over political and economic power.
The School of Authentic Journalism is possible every year thanks to donations from people like you, who believe that, despite adversity, a better world can be built through community work.

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