JFK AIRPORT, New York, 30 July 2013 â€“ Connecting here from Washington, DC, for a flight to Moscow and then St. Petersburg, Russia. Flight crews ready the Delta jet for our journey.
The U.S. Department of State invited me to participate in the 4th meeting of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission (BPC) Sub-Group on Mass Media, which takes place this week in St. Petersburg, Russia. The draft agenda for the two-and-a-half day meeting includes discussions on citizen journalism, journalism education and training, and media coverage/perceptions of Russia and the United States. Past U.S. delegates have hailed from prominent media organizations, academia, and journalism non-governmental organizations.
Iâ€™ve been tasked with presenting on â€œcitizen journalism,â€ a methodology Iâ€™ve been teaching and preaching for some time now, and a methodology made possible largely by the revolution in technology. I plan to show a couple of pieces made by students of mine in Cuba, and to discuss how young people in particular, equipped with hand-held digital tools, now communicate globally, instantly and in a language, the visual language, that everyone can understand.
Itâ€™s the same language that I teach in my classes at American University, and in my Video Journalism Workshops.
(Photo by Bill Gentile)
WASHINGTON, DC, 28 July 2013 — We’ve finished editing the three-part series on Guatemalan gangs. Above, a joint patrol of Guatemalan police and army scours the mean streets of Guatemala City in an effort to quell the gang violence that has plagued this Central American nation.
The three pieces will air in the next few days. I shot and produced the stories on a trip to Guatemala earlier this year. I was on assignment for the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University. Like so many other non-profits, the Center is turning more and more of its attention to video as a means to distribute its message. And most of them are looking at the model we refer to as backpack video journalism.
The three pieces are classic examples of backpack video journalism. I was on assignment with Robert Brenneman, author of “Homies + Hermanos: God and Gangs in Central America.” Brenneman is Assistant Professor of Sociology at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont. I spent 10 days with Brenneman as he conducted a follow-up round of research on gangs.
Follow us this week to view the pieces, titled, “The Gangs,” “The Researcher,” and “The Pastor.”
WASHINGTON, DC, 22 March 2013 — Some of the footage used in this piece about JFK was drawn from “Through Their Eyes,” the one-hour documentary that my wife, Esther, and I made about AU Abroad students in Cuba during fall 2011. We’re proud to see it used in conjunction with coverage of the 50th anniversary of JFK’s speech on world peace.
You can watch the video HERE.
We screened a fine cut of our documentary on 30 January of this year. The final version should be ready for distribution soon.
How curious that the histories and the destinies of Cuba and the United States still are bound together so tightly. And how sad it is that the AU Abroad program that we documented in 2011 will not be conducted in Cuba this year for lack of student enrollment.
- Bill Gentile
22 March 2013
WASHINGTON, DC, 15 March 2013 — This is a brief piece put together by the U.S. State Department on “citizen journalism,” one component of the broader methodology that we refer to as “backpack video journalism.” Erin Finicane is a former student of mine at American University’s School of Communication, and she embodies the ideal of citizen journalism. She’s talented and idealistic, and wants to use media to affect positive change. She made this video during my Backpack Documentary class. I’m so proud of her. You can watch her video HERE.
The State Department also did a video on me, as instructor and practitioner of the craft. You can see it HERE.
I hope you enjoy them.
WASHINGTON, DC, 11 March 2013 — James Niceley (left) uploads sound from our new documentary, “Through Their Eyes,” about six American University students studying in Cuba during Fall 2011. “Jake” is Assistant Professor at Mike Curb College of Arts Music & Science, and Assistant Chair of Music Production Technology, at Daytona State College.
Jake is doing the “sound sweetening” of our documentary, which we screened on 30 January at American University.
(Photo by Esther Gentile.)
WASHINGTON, DC, 12 March 2013 — The State Department recently published this video about “citizen journalism,” which is made possible in recent years by the advances in hand-held digital cameras and the Internet. A State Department crew interviewed me for the piece, and used material generated by one of my students, Erin Finicane. It’s Erin’s work that is featured in the story, because it’s a perfect example of what citizen journalism can achieve.
For her class project, Erin did a short documentary on how a group of tenants purchased an apartment building that had been practically abandoned by its owner, who wanted to drive out tenants to refurbish the building and sell high-priced condominiums. Erin’s documentary was crucial in the tenants’ quest for assistance from the city to buy the building from the owner.
You can watch the State Department video HERE.
WASHINGTON, DC, 23 February 2013 — The seeds that my AU Abroad students planted in Cuba during fall semester 2011 continue to bear fruit. Click HERE to read a story and to see pictures made by Efrain Ramirez, one of six AU students studying on the island at that time. All six students took my “Photojournalism and Social Documentary” course. They took four other classes, all from Cuban professors.
WASHINGTON, DC, 15 February 2013 — American University’s School of Communication (SOC) posted a story about the screening of “Through Their Eyes,” our documentary on six American University (AU) students studying in Cuba during fall 2011. The AU students were part of the AU Abroad program.
You can read the story HERE.
WASHINGTON, DC, 30 January 2013 — Sara Dumont, director of AU Abroad, addresses the audience assembled for the screening of “Through Their Eyes,” our documentary about six American University students who studied in Cuba during fall semester 2011. The screening was followed by a Q&A with students featured in the film.
WASHINGTON, DC, 27 January 2013 — I record the latest version of narration for “Through Their Eyes,” our one-hour documentary about six American University students studying in Cuba during Fall 2011. My friend and colleague, Russell Williams, produced this session at one of American University’s campus studios. His advice on sound and narration are making a critical difference in the quality of the documentary.
“Through Their Eyes” screens on Wednesday 30 January at American University’s Ward Building, auditorium #1. The public is invited to this free event. Food and refreshment is being served.
(Photo by Russell Williams.)