Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A busy 2016 to be followed by busier 2017
As I look back on 2016, I’m encouraged by what seems to me like growing interest in peace journalism generally and in the activities of the Center for Global Peace Journalism. Here is a partial list of our activities in 2016:

Kansas City area presentations: League of Women Voters; Johnson County Community College (JCCC) visiting scholar; Peacebuilding Conference (Park University and JCCC).

Others: Alliance for Peacebuilding in Washington, DC;  Juba, South Sudan; Munich, Germany; Klagenfurt, Austria; Salzburg, Austria; Freetown, Sierra Leone; Costa Rica (at the University for Peace).

Aborted, attempted workshop: Chennai, India (see previous post).

Publishing: Two editions of the Peace Journalist magazine; First US published peace journalism textbook—Peace  Journalism Principles and Practices.

In a bored (ha!) moment, I produced this map to show where I’ve taught PJ. I’m not sure if this is a testament to my energy or my insanity. (Click on map to enlarge)

2017 promises to be just as busy.

The signature project of 2017, and 2018-19 as well, is still in the planning stages, and can’t be officially announced until all the agreements are signed. I can say that it will involve me teaching several seminars in Nigeria in May, then bringing back 12 Nigerian journalists to Park University for a semester-long fellowship in the fall. Our partner in this project is one of the world’s most respected humanitarian organizations.

I also have plans to teach peace journalism projects in Cameroon and Pakistan, and to give at least several presentations here in the US, at the IVOH Annual Media Summit in New York in June, and at the NationalArchives in Kansas City in January. Of course, Park University and JCCC will also sponsor the fifth annual peacebuilding conference in late October or early November.

We’ll talk more in 2017. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Final update: Immigration does what Cyclone can't
Our peace journalism project in Chennai, India had to be cancelled due to visa problems (long, long story). We are en route home. All tired and stinky but otherwise well. And yes, petty, narrow-minded Indian immigration officials did accomplish what a cyclone couldn't--washing out our workshop. Words can't describe how disappointed I am for my students Erin and Kristine, who have continued to be exemplary travel companions despite our many travails.

Update--8 hrs later, still waiting; students still cyclone suspects

It's about 8 hours later, and we're still waiting for our flight to cyclone-damaged Chennai, India.(See post below) Our flight is supposed to leave in about 2.5 hours, but we'll see. Though I cling to my contention that my students guests Erin Harrell and Kristine Kennedy may be to blame for the cyclone, I must confess that I am proud of their whine-free demeanor during this travel ordeal that began 30 hours ago. They are real troopers.

Students to blame for cyclone
Chennai, India, where myself and two Park students are headed on a peace journalism project this week, was struck by Cyclone Vardah today. (A cyclone is what they call a hurricane in these parts). For details, see: http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/live-andhra-tamil-nadu-coasts-on-high-alert-as-cyclone-vardah-makes-landfall/story-3PiQLAzLXB9njQDhfTdPQI.html .

We're in Abu Dhabi (UAE) waiting for our connecting flight to Chennai. Our first flight was cancelled, but we're re-booked on a later flight that gets into Chennai at 3:35am tomorrow. My Chennai contact tells me power is out in the city, and many streets are flooded. Thus, our seminar scheduled to start tomorrow will start Wednesday instead.

As for the headline above, one fact is beyond dispute: When I travel alone, no cyclone. When I travel with students, it's cyclone city.

More later.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Sierra Leone journalists share lessons from Ebola reporting
FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE--Journalism during times of extreme crisis can literally be a matter of life and death. Just ask the 30 journalists who attended my peace journalism workshop last Thursday in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

When discussing their coverage of the Ebola crisis, which officially ended just one year ago here in Sierra Leone, several reporters shared stories of extraordinary peace journalism. A producer/reporter team talked about the lengths they went to insure that their listeners got accurate information about the disease and how it is spread. One women reporter said that on many days, there were actually hourly updates. Journalists here risked their lives bringing reports from hospitals, treatment centers, and Ebola-endemic areas.

We all agreed on the importance of the work the journalists did during the crisis, and on the fact that incorrect information could have literally cost lives.
The producer/reporter team agreed, incidentally, to produce a longer article about their Ebola reporting for the April, 2017 Peace Journalist magazine.

In addition to Ebola reporting, we also discussed how peace journalism might apply to electoral and reconciliation journalism here. Though the civil war here ended in 2002, the reconciliation process is ongoing. This process, I suggested, could be assisted by news reports about peacebuilders and through the use of media platforms as forums for ongoing discussions.

I was impressed by my Sierra Leonese colleagues’ commitment to their profession, and look forward to working with them in the future.