Monday August 5th, 2013

Video Journalism at Astoria Hotel in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia 31 July 2013 — This is the five-star Astoria Hotel where delegates to the 4th meeting of the U.S.-Russian Bilateral Presidential Commission (BPC) Sub-Group on Mass Media stayed.

 

 

Sunday August 4th, 2013

Video Journalism Visits Russia’s Vodka Musuem

 

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, 31 July 2013 – On our first night in St. Petersburg, our Russian hosts took us to dinner at the Vodka Museum. Aside from an explanation of vodka’s history in their country, the Russians invited us to sample a variety of vodkas they had prepared for us — an offer we couldn’t refuse.

The Russians proved to be terrific hosts during our four-day visit to their country. The organization, the accommodations, the food and the generosity of spirit were extraordinary.

I was in St. Petersburg for the 4th meeting of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission (BPC) Sub-Group on Mass Media. The meeting included discussions on citizen journalism, journalism education and training, and media coverage/perceptions of Russia and the United States.

On Friday, I delivered a presentation on “citizen journalism,” a methodology I’ve been teaching and preaching for some time now, and a methodology made possible largely by the revolution in technology. It’s just one component of a broader methodology that we refer to as “backpack video journalism.” I screened a couple of pieces made by students of mine in Cuba. We discussed 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.

During the presentation, I discussed how I think video is the new language, particularly of American youth. It is the new literature. I discussed the visual storytelling language, the same language that I teach in my classes at American University, and in my Video Journalism Workshops. See http://videojournalismworkshops.com

The U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission (BPC) is the premier forum between the U.S. and Russia to strengthen relations with each respective government and society.  President Obama and President Medvedev established the BPC in July 2009 to reset U.S.-Russia relations and engage the Russian government to pursue foreign policy goals of common interest for the American and Russian people.

Below, some of the artifacts stored in the Vodka Museum.

Below, a guide takes us through, and explains, the Vodka Museum.

(Photos by Bill Gentile.)

 

Sunday August 4th, 2013

Arrival for St. Petersburg Mass Media Summit

 

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, 31 August 2013 – We arrived at the airport in St. Petersburg on Wednesday 31 July for the 4th meeting of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission (BPC) Sub-Group on Mass Media. The draft agenda for the two-and-a-half day meeting included discussions on citizen journalism, journalism education and training, and media coverage/perceptions of Russia and the United States.

I delivered a presentation on “citizen journalism,” a methodology I’ve been teaching and preaching for some time now, and a methodology made possible largely by the revolution in technology. I screened a couple of pieces made by students of mine in Cuba. We discussed 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.

It’s the same language that I teach in my classes at American University, and in my Video Journalism Workshops. See http://videojournalismworkshops.com

The U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission (BPC) is the premier forum between the U.S. and Russia to strengthen relations with each respective government and society.  President Obama and President Medvedev established the BPC in July 2009 to reset U.S.-Russia relations and engage the Russian government to pursue foreign policy goals of common interest for the American and Russian people.

The BPC framework includes 20 working groups, including one on Education, Culture, Sports and Media (ECSM).  This strategic dialogue was the fourth gathering of the Sub-Working Group on Mass Media and was held in St. Petersburg, Russia, from July 31 through 3 August 2013.  The first three meetings were held in Boston (March 2011), Moscow (October 2011), and Washington, D.C. (October 2012).

At the first meeting’s conclusion in Boston, the delegates agreed to create a platform to exchange information on a regular basis through electronic media.  The second meeting of the sub-working group in Moscow culminated with the announcement of a two-year exchange program of 24 young journalists operated by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the Moscow Union of Journalists, with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The first Young Journalist Exchange Program concluded in December 2012, sending 12 American journalists to Russia and 12 young Russian journalists to the United States.  The three-week long exchange program placed U.S. and Russian journalists at prominent news organizations around Russia and the United States, respectively.

Last year’s meeting in Washington, D.C. focused on the three main themes of the sub-working group: the Business of Media; the Evolving Profession of Journalism; and New Media Technologies.  Expert speakers led discussions on ethics, entrepreneurship and education, and the expanding role of social media.  The agenda also included site visits the White House Press Briefing Room, the Washington Post, and the Newseum.

 

Above, on the ride from the airport to the hotel I notice that capitalism has gained ground in the former Soviet Union.

St. Petersburg is a fascinating and beautiful city, with wide avenues, beautiful architecture and miles of water canals.

(Photos by Bill Gentile)

 

Tuesday July 30th, 2013

En Route to St. Petersburg Mass Media Summit

 

JFK AIRPORT, New York, 30 July 2013 – 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.

I’ve been tasked with presenting on “citizen journalism,” a methodology I’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.

It’s the same language that I teach in my classes at American University, and in my Video Journalism Workshops.

(Photo by Bill Gentile)

 

 

 

 

Sunday July 28th, 2013

Special Video Journalism Series on Guatemala Gangs to Air Soon

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.”

 

Friday March 22nd, 2013

“Through Their Eyes” Material in JFK “Peace” Video

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

 

Friday March 15th, 2013

Former Student Featured As “Citizen Journalist”

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.

 

Tuesday March 12th, 2013

James Niceley Sounds Out “Through Their Eyes”

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.)

Tuesday March 12th, 2013

State Department Video Features Citizen Journalism

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.

Saturday February 23rd, 2013

Photojournalism Student Writes About Cuba Experience

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.