Wednesday, September 13, 2017

When Disasters Strike

by Evans Yonson (Philippines)

I come from a country where natural beauty is everywhere. We take pride in our natural resources - land, sea, air and the beautiful smiles of the Filipino people. We always find something to smile about. Because it's more fun in the Philippines.  


But, our country also has its share of disasters - natural and man-made calamities. Earthquake. Typhoons. Floods. Landslides. Famine. Forest fires. The latest devastation that hit the Philippines was Typhoon Haiyan leaving 6,300 dead and billions of dollars damaged to properties.

Government planners and scientists agree that such numbers could have been if people have been educated and informed about the coming of the disasters.

In 2011, my siblings and their families survived a catastrophic flash flood brought by Typhoon Washi. They lost everything. They have been informed two days before to take evacuate their abodes and seek higher grounds but never really bothered to heed the government's call. More than 2,500 died in this disaster.

These disasters could have been if these citizens have only been informed and educated about all things disaster, risk reduction, and preparations. 

When I went to my university in 2013, I immediately volunteered to our Disaster Risk and Reduction and Management Council and to help them out in their information, education and communication campaign for Cagayan de Oro City. I was mainly involved in education and awareness raising.

On July 10th, an hour after my last SUSI2017 class at Scripps College of Communication over at Schoonover Center and outside my bedroom window, the skies went from blue to very dark gray in a matter of minutes. My colleagues were off to Kroger to shop for food stuff.

I received these Emergency Alerts below. First, the flash flood warning. Then, came two disturbing messages - tornado warnings.
I received these messages before
everything else happened.

The tornado came and went. Zero casualty.

My co-scholars came home and told me their tornado stories. 

If only the Philippines, our government and the Filipino race, have all these warnings and attitudes towards disasters then we would have saved thousands of lives and millions of dollars.

Then, it will be a more fun in the Philippines.

Friday, August 25, 2017

While my keyboard gently weeps

A replication of Rolling Stone Magazine boss Jann Wenner’s San Francisco office at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

The exhibition on the 50 years of Rolling Stone Magazine at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a sign of how journalism can build identity and a strong relationship with its readers as music stars do with their audience.

Text and photos by Enrique Núñez Mussa, Chile.

(Originally published on Global Spotlight Vol. 10, Issue III, 2017

The sun trespasses the buildings of San Francisco and pours through the window. The hands hitting the keys receive the warmth of the sun’s rays. It is a regular day at the office, but a regular day in this office is like a party anywhere else or at least that is what they wants us to believe.

This office will become a museum exhibition 50 years later, but Jann, the man with messy hair, jeans, and boots who is writing inside those rays, doesn’t know it yet. He might intuit it, he is aspiring big. The letter he is writing is directed to Mick Jagger, he has already received one from the frontman of the Rolling Stones that reads: “Dear Jann: In return for my consent to allow you to register the name Rolling Stone what do you offer as far as cover stories, special small ad rates and summer clothes coverage”.

         Selfie at the exhibition.    

Jann Wenner founded the magazine in 1967 and was defined by him as: “Rolling Stone is not just about music, but also about the things and attitudes that the music embraces. We’ve been working quite hard on it and we hope you can dig it. To describe it any further would be difficult without sounding like bullshit, and bullshit is like gathering moss”. That definition and the epistolary interactions with the voice behind “Paint it Black” and “Satisfaction” are part of the exhibition on the 50 years of Rolling Stone Magazine at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The exhibit that recreates the first office also shows documents as the handwritten messages from Gonzo pioneer and journalist Hunter S. Thompson, a collection of the most memorable magazine covers, pictures from the first days, pieces of edited articles, the notes on the interview Wenner did with president Barack Obama and objects such as the recorder used by the now-film director Cameron Crowe, who presented the golden age of the magazine in his movie Almost Famous.

Cameron's Crowe recorder exhibited at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The magazine was able to turn a typing machine into a rock and roll object as an electric guitar. It made journalism something as cool as The Beatles, The Sex Pistols and Jimi Hendrix, broadening narrative structures. Writers and photographers were able to develop their own voices, trying different registers. They could attempt diverse repertories and styles, bringing quality from an outsider’s perspective as the political photos of Annie Leibowitz.

After going through the halls of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame looking at the different ages of popular music, I think at one level the reason to make worthy to exhibit a t-shirt or an old record is from the more visceral perspective of the emotions raised from that song, the same way as an article that surprises you.

There is also a response to their current societies through an embrace or a rebellious response to previous generations, Rolling Stone Magazine did break with traditional journalism and several times honored the best in good literature. That creates a point of view and a style that goes beyond an individual artist or band, it defines an age, as a collection of individual articles mixed with photography and design. It ended up defining a brand and an attitude toward society, creating an identity readers could relate to engage with the world.

 Jann Wenner's notes on his interview to Barack Obama.

The final scene of the movie The Power of Rock, directed by Jonathan Demme and presented in the Hall museum, ends with Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne, and Prince playing "While my guitar gently weeps", written by George Harrison, is heart-beating and breaking when Prince plays a solo in which he moves his fingers as fast over the strings as you could imagine the fingers of Jann Wenner over the typewriter. The composer from Minneapolis closes his eyes and lets the chords flow as the music cries without lyric, it weeps, it is real and relevant and emotional, and it becomes history, as a letter to Mick Jagger that would help define the future of journalism.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tears in My I's

By: David Michael

My internship at Cape Chameleon in Cape Town, South Africa has come to an end. I am already preparing myself for the inevitable reverse culture shock, as well as the heartbreak of leaving this incredible country.

I will have to remember to get in on the right side of the car when I am picked up at the airport. I also have to make sure I drive on the right side of the road.

Ostrich, warthog, kudu, and zebra meats
I will no longer be able to say baie dankie, which is: “thank you very much in Afrikaans.” It sounds just like if one were to say: “buy a donkey” in English. Americans may not take it the same way.

I will have to readjust to American time, where everything is very fast paced and quick in response. Admittedly I became complacent with “South Africa Time.”

I’ll be craving the variety in cuisine once I’m back in the states. I tried many different foods from all over the world here, and enjoyed every single one. My favorite was the ox tongue.

I will take the history I learned about with me. I walked the path Nelson Mandela took, and explored the continued affects of apartheid. These are important lessons any nation can benefit from.

Pictured above from left to right: Where Nelson Mandela gave his speech upon his release, Nelson Mandela's prison cell on Robben Island, and a bench that still remains after apartheid (look familiar?)

I will also be taking with me the fact that I’m published, in another country! I really enjoyed serving as an editor, videographer, and writer the Cape Chameleon. I will definitely be adding my works to my resume.

I am disheartened I will no longer be able to attend rugby matches. I had just begun to truly understand the sport. My local friends no longer felt the need to throw their hands in the air in frustration whilst explaining it to me. Also, instead of peanuts or hot dogs the vendors passed around biltong (beef jerky) and doughnuts.
Go DHL Stormers!
I contemplated catching some of the wildlife, but realized none of them would fit in my suitcase. I also would hate to take them away from their natural habitat here, where you can see them from a couple meters away (but definitely do not touch).

Lions, and baboons, and penguins. O my!

I’ll miss seeing the mountains every morning during my mini-bus ride to work. Even more so, I’ll miss the incredible views offered at their summits. I’ll even miss the mini-bus rides themselves: being cramped into a small van full of 15 people, but able to make pleasant conversation during the journey with anyone every day.

The view from the top of Table Mountain
My view from the mini-bus

Most of all I’ll miss the friends I’ve made here. Not only Capetonians, but also people from all over the world. I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime, and will be really handy when I need to crash on someone’s couch when visiting another country.

I’d like to thank Professor Yusuf Kalyango, the family of the late Professor Mark Leff, Ohio University, the Institute for International Journalism, and the John R. Wilhelm Foreign Correspondence internship program for this incredible, and life-changing opportunity. 
Baie dankie!

Friday, August 11, 2017

José Ferrão
2017 SUSI Scholar on Journalism and Media
Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The journey to what one Athenian referred to as the “black people’s Mecca in the U.S.” started at Rio International Airport when I took a Delta flight. To my amazement, almost all of the flight attendants with two or three exceptions were African Americans, a kind of human landscape you never see on a Brazilian aircraft. In my country, black people are commonly assigned with cleaning jobs and entertainment. You often see them holding floor cloths and brooms, but very rarely leading a flight crew. You see them holding a microphone and playing the drums, but when most Brazilians check a prosperous entrepreneur out who happens to be black, they think there must be something wrong. An outrageous, sad and shameful reality.

I was loaded with stereotypes - and probably still am - when I boarded that plane. One can never be fully aware of the cultural jolt awaiting them, but I did have some background conception of Atlanta, as I had changed planes there some years ago. This time it was different, though. My African Brazilian friends from Salvador of Bahia and the years I spent teaching at one of our leading universities that adopted affirmative action have both helped me become at least more, I can say, insightful about these issues. For it is mine as well. After all, a country's heritage is something everyone takes part in, be it samba, soccer or ... slavery.

The landing in Hartsfield Jackson was pretty easy and I could see from the plane window how busy the airport was. Small carts running to and fro, luggage being taken from the parked aircrafts, men with green fluorescent vests signing the way to pilots and everywhere Delta’s propaganda: Proud to call Atlanta home and We have the best employees in the world. Sure you do, Delta. And the most colorful ones.

If you just go through the huge hallways of Hartsfield Jackson, you can see that the overwhelming majority of the airport people are African Americans. The singing Southern black accent is heard from the huge immigration hall to the eating facilities and throughout the big aisles of the terminals. Together with this beautiful song-speak, another feature of the black people in the United States is responsible for making them so powerful: their hairstyles.

I had been kind of gradually prepared for that nice surprise. One of the attendants in my flight from Rio had a sort of curly high hydrated hair cascade falling off her head down to her chest. Her being a tall woman contributed to an even more astounding outlook. A colleague of hers, on the other hand, preferred a light brown three-deck-wedding-cake-like bun reaching out to the sky. Every now and then you could hear I love your haaaaair!!!! coming out of a passenger’s mouth, which of course made them smile.

At Hartsfield Jackson, I just had to sit at one of those boarding gates and pretend the huge corridors were not airport but fashion runways, where the most amazing hairstyles passed by. Old women in her Sunday morning hats like just getting out of a Southern Baptist church service, young men with Mohican haircuts and bad boys’ sunglasses and middle-aged desk assistants with a whole variety of hairdos, ranging from straightening to highlights, from colorful extensions to progressive brushes. A woman driving a cart full of oldies with a big Rastafari braid passed by us and shouted a Beep Beep to the inattentive passengers on her way, while the lady at the boarding desk with half of her head shaved and the other half with blond hydrated curls hanging and swinging like Christmas tree ornaments continued her work…

And me sitting there, thinking of my dear fellow African Brazilians back home and the long way they still have to go to get as much empowerment as their North American counterparts after a lot of struggle and passive resistance…

And I remained in wonder.

José Ferrão
2017 SUSI Scholar on Journalism and Media
Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Not far from Martin Luther King’s Memorial, in the middle of a beautiful and well-tended garden, American president Jimmy Carter has his Center and Library. In one of the buildings that comprise the set of modern concrete-and-glass facilities, a museum hosts a collection of papers, outfits, and personal items belonging to the best ex-president the United States ever had, according to many, and his beloved First Lady Rosalynn. A visit is worth taking, especially if you are interested in knowing what makes an American.

The ingredients you find as you go through a set of walled photograph panels with inscriptions that account for the various stages on the pilgrim president’s progress to social activism and, of course, power. From his childhood in Plains, Georgia, to world leaders’ palaces, Jimmy is the good guy who made it. What he simply did was to accomplish someone’s prophecy that once proclaimed: “Any schoolboy, even one of ours, might grow up to be president of the United States”. The wise words are those of a Woman of Achievement, as Miss Julia Coleman, Jimmy and Rosalynn’s teacher and school director, was entitled back in the 1930s. About four decades later, her pupil would take the oath of office.

But not without challenges and perils, for those make the spirit tougher and more prepared to go and get there. Carter’s odyssey started in the Navy, when he had to face one of the fiercest storms of Pacific Ocean history. No big deal for the Sunday school teacher of the officers’ children though. Back to Plains, with little money, Jimmy and Rosalynn overcame the hardships and “together they steadily expanded their [peanut farm] business and began to play a larger role in the community”, says the script on the wall. Then it was time for politics and with it came the “painful loss in his first race for governor”. No big deal again, for a bigger campaign would pay off later on: from being an almost unknown politician, Carter became the Democrats’ candidate who in the end made it to the White House, supported by the restless family and friends who took the race in their hands. A story that goes on to a mandate that inherited the wearing out of the Vietnam War, the discouragement brought to the nation by Watergate, the tension of the American hostage crisis in Iran and the difficult peace talks between Israel and Egypt at Camp David.

A path not strange to the faithful Rosalynn either, the First Lady with an agenda of her own. The “Independent Partner” soon got used to “attending [her husband’s] cabinet meetings to stay current on the nation’s business”. The photos on the panel dedicated to Rosalynn show Carter’s wife holding the hand of a small child being assisted by a doctor in what looks like a humanitarian campaign, and also a meeting in the Oval Office with the First Lady on par with the president’s political staff. Her dresses and jewelry displayed on a glass window testify of the simplicity and grace of a well-bred country young girl, which also accounts for the Carters’ protestant ascetic values.

A couple that also helped “made America great again”, although in a single one-term mandate. No big deal again. Their long-lasting work had barely started. Still to come was the fight against Guinea worm, river blindness and malaria, three of the poor world’s horrible diseases that would receive The Carter Center’s assistance. The saints have been marching in, now at a slower place though, as the old couple retired to their home in Plains. In Atlanta, their story continues to be told, a revealing narrative that outlines the hallmark of the American people: a folk commissioned by God to fight, overcome and achieve. This has always been so in the United States. The Carters are good metonymy of it all.