5: Welcome to Journalism

Welcome to Journalism


This clip starts just after Dan has joined a group of photojournalists arriving in Somalia to document the famine that was ravaging the country. While loading aid supplies, they are confronted by rebels--young men with guns. Dan’s use of humor and ability to connect with the rebels as young men allows the group to be able to move forward. This scene gives the audience a first glimpse into the perils of on-site journalism during times of conflict as well as the harsh realities of the effects of war on civilians.

Film Engagement Activities
1. Film extension: One way to explore the topic of dangers of journalism is by watching films that dive deeper into this subject.  

Dan’s sister, Amy Eldon Turteltaub, wrote about the film for The Huffington Post in 2013
“After Dan’s death, in an attempt to understand why he was willing to risk his life to go into a country at war just to take pictures, I came up with the idea for the film, “Dying To Tell the Story.” It was a documentary about front-line journalists like South Africa’s Peter Magubane who endured 362 days of solitary confinement for shooting a photograph of a policeman killing an innocent man. Or Christiane Amanpour, who took unthinkable risks as a young reporter for CNN in Bosnia. Directed by Kyra Thompson, the film was distributed by CNN to more than 120 countries.

Filming the documentary helped me finally understand why journalists, why my brother, why so many people’s sons, daughters and parents risk their lives to bring us the news. I learned that the journalists I interviewed had a higher objective for good, and by doing their jobs — putting themselves in dangerous situations and sharing stories of conflict and famine — they were saving lives.”

2. Journalism today and then:
When Dan worked for Reuters as a photojournalist, the internet and facets of social media had not taken off yet. Twitter didn’t exist, nor did Facebook. In fact, the way that we share information in seconds today was not yet possible. Digital cameras weren’t readily available.. The entire process of photography was far more complicated and time consuming than posting a picture to instagram or another social media outlet is today. This meant that competition for one’s images to be placed in a magazine or newspaper spread had a different set of standards in that the photographer’s eye and the writer’s story had to be sharp, on point and verifiable. 

The fact that Dan was so young and hired as staff for Reuters, a global news market, speaks volumes about his talent, instinct and sadly, his unrealized potential. Regularly journalists like Dan were up against rejection. They would risk their lives in areas of conflict to capture images geared to make the world care, but too often, these images never saw the light of day. And, because of this, it was understandable that many became cynical about their ability to make a difference. In this clip, we hear Duff say to Dan, “Save your film. No one will print it.” 
  • We now have the ability to view limitless amounts of images and stories from all over the world at any time. 
  • Discuss whether or not you think this increases or decreases the likelihood of a story being ignored? 
  • What do you think it takes for the world at large to respond to a story or image?
  • Does our instant access to news at every hour cause information overload? What are the dangers and challenges of having access to constant news as it unfold? 
  • How does misinformation, or ‘fake news’ add to these challenges?
Explore this idea further: 
  • Citizen Journalism: Technology and new media has enabled the rise of citizen journalists. Read the article “The Rise of Citizen Journalism” from The Guardian. Consider the benefits and dangers (or just pros and cons) associated with citizen journalism. Explore the host of other articles and videos available online to dive deeper into this issue.. Be sure to use caution as you proceed as some content may include violence and may be disturbing.
  • In some cases, images and videos captured by citizen journalists have ignited the start of social movements or added fuel to movements that already existed such as the cases of Eric Garner and Neda Agha-Soltan. Research these and identify other powerful examples of citizen-based journalism.
  • Read and respond to Nick Kristof’s piece, “Save the Darfur Puppy”. Discuss the journalistic commitment to bear witness as well as what compels people to watch and respond as opposed to ignore.  
3. Draw attention through an image that you create to an issue that you care about on at your school or in your community. For example, you might capture an image or design a collage that focuses on food waste, water waste, the loneliness of a child on a playground, etc.

“Once one has been to these challenging terrible places, they’re always strangely drawn back...because there’s nothing that can compare to seeing the raw reality of the basic human need for survival. It disgusts and inspires.” ~ Dan Eldon
  • What might Dan have meant by ‘disgusts and inspires’? Can you identify examples from your own experiences? 
  • What does this quote make you think of in terms of history? In terms of now? 
  • Why does human survival disgust and inspire? Can you think of books you’ve read in which this is a theme?
  • Create a recommended list of books and/or articles for your peers.

Rock Your World is a program of Creative Visions
Rock Your World is a Program of Creative Visions, a 501(c) (3) organization that supports creative activists - individuals who use the power of media and arts to create positive change in the world.
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