Thursday, October 29, 2009

West Bank

By Michael Barajas

Local Palestinians and international activists have protested the Israel-West Bank separation barrier in the West Bank villages of Bil'in and Ni'lin for almost five years. The barrier cuts into significant portions of the villagers' farm land. Israeli soldiers typically fire tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters, who gather weekly.

Protesters meet in Bil'in's village center and march down to a ravine near the barrier.

A Palestinian teenager in Bil'in covering his face after running through a cloud of tear gas.

A Palestinian boy hurls a tear-gas grenade back at Israeli soldiers in Bil'in

A Palestinian protester in the West Bank village of Ni'in

Michael Barajas is a recent Scripps graduate. He is currently interning with the Associated Press in Jerusalem, Israel. To visit his portfolio website, go to:

Images and content copyright Michael Barajas

Old City, New Violence

By Michael Barajas

Violence erupted once again in Jerusalem's Old City on Sunday as Israeli police stormed the Temple Mount to chase off violent Palestinian protesters. This is the second time this month that Israel has dispatched a heavy police force to quell violence in the Old City, heightening tensions all over Jerusalem.

This latest outburst seemed to be set off by a swath of rumors started by Muslim leaders in the north and East Jerusalem - that extremist Jewish groups were planning on taking over the Temple Mount (what Muslims refer to as "The Noble Sanctuary" which houses the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque). Of course, nothing supports those claims.

Masked Palestinian protesters began gathering on the Temple Mount early Sunday morning, claiming they were "defending Al-Aqsa" against invading Jewish forces. Eventually they began throwing rocks and petrol bombs at Israeli police. By the end of the day, 18 Palestinians were arrested, 25 were injured, and hundreds remained holed up inside the Al-Aqsa mosque.

The Temple Mount is one of the holiest sites for both Jews and Muslims. In the past, clashes in and near the Old City have sparked serious, prolonged violence. Click here to read the AP story about this most recent round of clashes.

I showed up to report from the Old City between waves of violence that morning - the more serious clashes seemed to go off around 9 am and 10:30 am.

Right after entering through Lions' Gate, which leads straight into the Muslim Quarter and the ramp up to Al-Aqsa, I saw Israeli police set up a barrier behind me. Within minutes, I saw Palestinian men and women lining up, trying to enter the Old City for midday prayers to no avail.

To one side, Israeli police donning helmets and Plexiglas shields set up a barrier in front of the entrance to the Temple Mount. Palestinian women were screaming, crying and begging to be let in. I heard one yelling that her son was inside - she said he was young and probably scared.

At the same moment, rocks and glass bottles rained down on Israeli Police yards away as young Palestinian boys darted in and out of alleyways throwing whatever they could. One boy ducked behind a shopping cart filled with rubble, occasionally standing up to launch stones as big as his fist. Police fired stun-grenades down the small alleys trying to disperse the protesters. A local Palestinian woman told me, "This is what happens when peace-talks end."

By this time, more and more older Palestinian men and women had gathered in the street, trying to get to Al-Aqsa. Somewhat arbitrarily, Israeli police would get behind them and form a line, pushing them forward through the gate. It was difficult not to get caught in the middle.

Just before noon, the group of Palestinian men that remained near the Al-Aqsa ramp began to form two lines. I immediately knew what they were doing. The men closed their eyes and began to pray, while Israeli police stood behind their shields chatting and occasionally taking drags off their cigarettes. Shock-grenades continued to ring out through the streets.

Michael Barajas is a recent Scripps graduate. He is currently interning with the Associated Press in Jerusalem, Israel. To visit his portfolio website, go to:

Images and content copyright Michael Barajas

Monday, October 26, 2009


The Institute for International Journalism and the College of Communication in conjunction with The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting has organized yet another campus visit by independent filmmaker and roving journalist, Steve Sapienza. Steve will be here from Tuesday October 27 to Thursday October 29, 2009.

He will share his experiences in reporting international crises. He will give lectures on Tuesday and Wednesday, which will provide Ohio University students with fresh information on global issues such as water crisis and the climate change in countries he has covered.

“Easy Like Water: Reporting from the Front Line of Climate Change”

In Bangladesh, water poses a relentless threat to about 150 million people in a country the size of Iowa. With increasingly violent cyclones and accelerating glacier melt upstream, flooding may create more than 20 million “climate refugees” from Bangladesh, alone, by 2030. India is already building walls to keep Bangladeshis out.

Steve will speak to the university community
in Anderson Auditorium located in Scripps Hall, Room 111 on October 28, at 6pm. Come and join the conversation on global climate change in this region with Steve Sapienza, an award-winning news and documentary producer who has covered a wide range of global issues on Wednesday October 28, 2009 from 6pm to 7pm in Anderson Auditorium.

Stephen Sapienza is an award-winning news and documentary producer who has covered a wide range of global issues, including the HIV crisis in Haiti, sex workers in the Dominican Republic, child soldiers in Sierra Leone in Africa, the Cuban military crisis, and landmine survivors in Cambodia. He was co-producer for, a web project about HIV in Jamaica that was nominated for an Emmy in 2009. In 2008, he received the Ruth Adams Award for reporting on dwindling water supplies in Asia. In 2002, he produced "Deadlock: Russia's Forgotten War" for CNN Presents, winner of a CINE Golden Eagle.

He will dine with faculty and students, and also hold one-on-one talks with a few students in Scripps 205 and in Sing Tao 101. Please contact Professor Kalyango if you are interested in having an exclusive visit with Steve on Thursday morning between 10:00 am and 11:30am.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Television in Guyana – Lack of Identity Expressed through Media

By Celia Shortt

As a journalist, one of the big things I look at when I engage with another culture is their media system. So much can be learned about a culture and its identity from their media. An observer can see their pride in their country, their struggles as a nation, or their desire for change. When I arrived in Georgetown, Guyana, I was anxious to view the country through its media and learn as much as possible about it.

So far, in my short time here, the biggest thing I have learned about Guyana from their media is that they are in search of their identity as media. Most of their programming is taken from American networks and programming. When I say taken, I don’t mean conceptualized or based on, I mean directly taken. They take blocks of programming from an American television station, commercials and all, and air it as their own on television stations. They do insert some of their own commercials over the American ones, but it’s still predominantly American programming. The majority of their news is even American. Like the other programming, they borrow, television stations here take blocks of programming from American cable news networks and air it for some of their evening newscasts.

For me, an American living in Guyana, the large amount of American programming is quite nice. When I came here, it did cross my mind that I would miss certain television shows. Not to mention, American news. So far, I have been able to follow both because of their dependence on American programming.

Now, some stations do have some local programming and local newscasts, but what little there is was created by people who have not had proper training. What television and/or media training they’ve received they’ve picked up along the way by others who may or may not have had proper training.

Despite these issues, I still learned quite a bit about Guyana. First, in the small amount of original programming, I could see the pride the Guyanese have in their country. Their morning news shows contain programming that shows what their country has to offer its citizens and its visitors, as well as the natural beauty their countrys possesses. The expression of this pride, however, is curtailed due to their lack of training. In other words, their lack of training makes it hard for them to professionally express their pride in their country through their media.

This lack of media training is perhaps the biggest thing I learned about the Guyanese culture. It has led to a struggle for them to express their identity and it has caused a desire for change so that they can do their job well.

In the first month that I was here, I was part of a television workshop which had a goal of training Guyanese journalists so that they could do their jobs better. Most who came did not know how to properly construct a news story. In addition, most did not know how to correctly navigate around the journalistic restrictions in the country. They were doing the best that they could with what they had. Seeing these journalists learn some of the necessary skills to be an effective journalist was not half as exciting as seeing them cultivate the desire to become a driving force in Guyana and the rest of the world.

In the time since the workshop, I have already seen some changes in the news programming. The stories are written and filmed better than before. Additionally, behind the scenes, journalists are implementing changes to help them do their jobs well.

As an observer, it is exciting for me to see people learn new things. As a journalist, however, it’s exciting for me to see Guyana discover Guyanese journalism instead of simply having journalism in Guyana.

Diary from Guyana - Embracing a New Culture

By Celia Shortt

The day I arrived in Guyana, I remembered that from the airplane, the dense jungle looked like broccoli. I also remembered seeing a tiny number of buildings that were scattered among those trees. This picture grew larger as the airplane continued its descent onto the runway. When we landed, I took a deep breath and reconciled to myself that I had just reached my home for the next 11 months, Georgetown, Guyana.

Before coming to Guyana, I had traveled internationally. I had not, however, lived in a different culture for this long of an amount of a time. I naively assumed that I would pick up and adapt to this new place and new culture quickly and flawlessly. It took no time at all for me to realize that wouldn’t necessarily be the case.

The first lesson I learned was that when embracing or engaging in a new culture, it is important to remember that what you are used to in your culture probably means something completely different where you are.

In America, when one sees a large tortilla, meat, beans, and rice, one word pops into his or her mind, burrito! It makes perfect sense, the meat, the beans, and rice go into the tortilla. The tortilla is then rolled up into a cylinder like shape and either eaten with one’s hands or a knife and fork. In Guyana, however, those four elements mean something completely different.

About a month after I arrived in Guyana, my coworker and I stopped at her house so we could carpool to an event we had that evening. When we arrived, her mother in law had a snack waiting for us. On the kitchen table were tortillas, meat, beans, and rice. Now, my friend told me this was Roti, but my brain told me this was a burrito. Being in a new country, I did not want to assume that was how to eat it, so I watched my friend prepare hers. Sure enough, she began to put the beans and meat into the tortilla. I went ahead and followed suit. I put everything, rice included, in the tortilla, wrapped it up and started eating it with a knife and fork.

I was several bites in before I realized both my friend and her mother in law were staring at me.

“What are you doing?” she asked.
“I’m eating Roti,” I said.
“Why are you eating it like that, and why did you put the rice inside it?” she asked while at the same time trying not to laugh.
“Where else was I supposed to put it?” I asked with a confused and baffled look on my face.

After a pause, we both looked at each other and started to laugh. Apparently here, the rice is always on the side. That night after laughing a lot at myself and watching my coworker and her mother in law laugh at my roti, I realized that my faux paus could be applied to a larger lesson. When you embrace a new culture, you probably won’t get it right the first time. However, if you learn to laugh at yourself and keep trying, you will gain new friends, new life, and wonderfully new and memorable experiences.