REPORTING WITH HEART

All Things Pass Apprenticeship Program

with keith harmon snow, www.allthingspass.com

 

A Guerilla Journalism, Reporting & Photography Training—A Sacred Pilgrimage in Right Livelihood, Ethics, Morality and Social Justice

 

SUMMER 2007

Apprentices will gain insights and experience dealing with the nature of the media system, how to work independently, how to research and deliver a story. Actual case studies will be used to gain critical insights into the ethical and moral issues involved in media and journalism: examples will span the political spectrum. Cultural, social and historical factors will be examined to understand manifestations of ethnocentricity, racism, sexism and other biases. Techniques of interviewing and discovering information will be studied and put into practice. We will study tone, voice, perspective and article placement, and will consider literary journalism, travel writing, news clips and the positioning of these vis-ą-vis wealth, privilege, class, gender, and empire. Each apprenticeship will pursue an extended documentary FOCUS project that will be developed, peer-reviewed and critiqued over the course of the program, eventually leading to publication.

Goals of the Training

The REPORTING WITH HEART Journalism Apprenticeship training is a unique and rigorous education apprenticeship designed to train you to work independently as a journalist and photographer. However, the program will do much more than that. It will expose you to issues and ideas, perspectives and problems that are not easily found or gained through more traditional means. This is a radical program—radical means “going to the roots”—designed to be in sharp contradistinction to the usual standards, values, and dictates of modern mass media and its corporate agenda.

The REPORTING WITH HEART program is designed to bring to the apprentice a wholly unique perspective, and to introduce and—as best possible—develop all the necessary skills to enable him or her to “report” effectively and efficiently, with sincerity, honesty and compassion, but in respect of the brutal truth, and for the highest good of the universe. The language itself is problematic: what does “report” mean in the context of a global capitalist system premised on rewarding those, primarily, who support the profit motives and the imperatives of Empire? What does “reporting” mean in the context of great social and environmental upheaval, with massive losses on all fronts?

This program is not designed for the aspiring or working journalist who seeks a career path in high paying mass media corporations, or as a salaried professional in the media wing of prominent non-government organizations, but for those who seek to bring light to misunderstood, misreported, forgotten or hidden issues, and to illuminate the people, places and realities behind them. It is a program to do what others have promised but as yet failed to achieve: bring a voice to the voiceless. This requires the highest form of sensitivity, self-critique, awareness and integrity.

REPORTING WITH HEART does not revolve around economic or financial considerations, but in fact requires that the bottom line be sacrificed in favor of the “brutal truth.” This apprenticeship program seeks to offer the apprentice opportunities to develop and hone the necessary skills to pursue this work. It also offers an opportunity to directly expand ones consciousness by, in effect, being “overwhelmed” with the realities of the world and then supported in negotiating them. This program is about personal growth and achievement, and it will definitely involve having fun.

In the course of this training participants can expect to meet and commune with other apprentices from diverse backgrounds, varying histories and herstories, and people with uniqueness of thought, purpose, dedication and action. The apprenticeship is predominantly geared toward teaching apprentices how to respond to dynamic situations, negotiate roadblocks and opportunities, and maximize their own potential to—ultimately—do good in the world. This program is about making a difference, and it relies on a fundamental belief: the power of one. Perhaps the most central task of the training is to develop in all participants the capacity to think outside the box, and to challenge everything, while still retaining one’s sense of self. But there is yet one higher goal: to meet suffering head on, and transcend it, with equanimity. Said differently, perhaps this means shouldering the burdens of the world, but without shouldering the apathy, hopelessness, and suffering which usually attends such an increase in awareness. The difference is personal empowerment versus collective despair. And if there is a bottom line, this is it: REPORTING WITH HEART is about an ever expanding and illuminating consciousness. And while publishing stories is an important end, the means used to get to the publishing stage are equally critical. As important as the “product”—we would like to have our work reach the multitudes of the masses—is the process. The apprenticeship seeks to enable apprentices to become Masters at challenging fundamental beliefs, exposing mythologies, identifying deceptions, channeling energy, and facilitating positive social change. This, of course, will require the full force of joy.

REPORTING WITH HEART will offer training and guidance in writing, interviewing, researching, photographing, organizing and—remarkably—being. It will offer opportunities to debate with other apprentices, to deeply explore ethical and moral dilemmas that may be faced in the creative process. The “creation” is the actual text or photograph, the story or image, and this involves selections of tone, content, color, shape, language, and it includes the delivery, the presentation, the timing, the placement, the venue, and the moral or ethical themes and sub-themes, the bias, the passion, the sincerity, the honesty, the truth. It also means facing one’s own fears.

Some of the topics to be explored:

Š  Techniques of effective interviewing

Š  Photography (perspective, technique, color, light, subject relations, humanism)

Š  Researching a story (leads, clues, investigations)

Š  Sources: identifying, developing, cultivating and protecting

Š  Advocacy journalism, feature reporting, spot news, radio reporting

Š  Selling your ideas, work, and self

Š  Travel genre (writing & photography)

Š  Propaganda, public relations, perception management

Š  Think-tanks, pressure groups, not-for-profits

Š  Bias, stereotype, and discrimination

Š  Media conglomeration, exclusion & access

Š  Fundraising and/or sustaining an income

Š  Censorship (editorial, industry, political, self-)

Š  Ethical and moral dilemmas and concerns

Š  Freedom of speech, freedom of press

Š  Radical thought and perspectives

Š  The political economy(s) of interests

Š  Language (semantics, construction, innuendo)

Š  Emotional attachment & involvement

Š  Seduction and manipulation (subliminal, personal, advertising)

Š  Considerations in balance (personal, journalistic, political)

Š  Logistics of reportage (access, security, visas, documents)

Š  Mass psychology & the Manufacture of Consent

Š  Personal power & spirituality

Š  International treaties, bodies, legal instruments

Š  Science, facts, statistics (uses & abuses)

Š  Hierarchies (of suffering, complicity, morality)

Š  Skills in listening, deciphering, and hearing

 

The REPORTING WITH HEART apprenticeship is more than just a class, a course, or a workshop. It is an experience, a path, an immersion, a delving into, an opportunity to find or develop an alternative way of seeing, loving and being life. It is about balance, in everything, from the image to the text to the person behind the pen or the camera. Living the opportunity is the ultimate challenge and this can be accomplished on various levels, or with varying levels of commitment. The most rewarding benefit that all who engage in this work can hope to realize is the deeply ingrained sense that one’s life matters, that ones raison d’etre can be grounded in the chance to educate, to reveal, to illuminate, and to physically share with and even help other people, in so many ways. This work will often require one to challenge sacred truths, expose economic or political interests, or confront powerful systems of oppression.

Beyond certain basic and obvious necessities to do so, the REPORTING WITH HEART Apprenticeship training will NOT focus on emerging digital or information technologies, web blogging, web design or maintenance. (For about $360 you can take a one-day seminar in DREAMWEAVER with the BBC Corporation, for example, and for about $1000 you can take a two-day introductory course in FLASH design.)

This is social activism, guerrilla journalism, and it is not always easy. It is also intended to be a sacred pilgrimage, where—like a koan—not all answers will be forthcoming. It will also offer the awareness that, often, there may be no right answers, no models, in how to do it, and so we must learn to dance with the uncertainty, and feel comfortable with the unknowing, and yet solid and secure in our foundational selves.  It will be both local and international in scope and consideration. It will strive to instill humility, with a certain fierceness, and it will offer something that is often lost in the world of achievement and competition: the capacity to listen, to empathize, to share from one’s heart, and maybe only, sometimes, to be able to say “I’m sorry.”  And so it is also about letting go. All things pass.

Framework of the Training

Phase one of the REPORTING WITH HEART apprenticeship program is focused on developing skills and relationships; Phase Two is focused on applying these in the field under difficult or challenging working conditions either at home (USA) or abroad.

The REPORTING WITH HEART Apprenticeship program will revolve around a tight community—the participants—and it will require extensive group participation and interaction, and peer education, on one hand, and it will revolve around personal initiative, independent motivation, self-assignment and personal drive on the other. It will very much include elements geared toward self-discovery and personal growth that can be applied to all walks of life, all careers and all pursuits.

The apprenticeship period will be two weekends a month, over three months, from June to August. The dates of actual apprentice modules are every other weekend, as follows:

[1] June 8-10

[2] June 22-24

[3] July 6-8

[4] July 20-22

[5] August 3-5

[6] August 17-19

 

The six weekend modules will take place in western Massachusetts. All food and lodging during the module weekends will be included in the basic fee; basic lodging will be provided—outside of the weekend modules—for the months of June, July and August in western Masssachusetts. Although the details are not set in stone, it is anticipated that each weekend will commence on Friday at 4:00 PM, and conclude on Sunday at 4:00 PM. Each weekend will include focus sessions on interviewing, photographing, and researching; each will involve discussion groups, and individual presentations of ongoing work. Participants will be given a reading list prior to the beginning of the training, and each will be expected to have read the materials in advance. There will be numerous slide presentations which offer opportunities to explore the nuances, sensitivities, depth and breath of certain selected topics, giving trainees an opportunity to learn about the diversities of cultural, political, economic or other factors that might be encountered in the pursuit of any specific story, or the negotiation of some culture, landscape or conflict. Several important films will be shown during the training, and these will involve deep and challenging discussions. While much of the experience and methods can be applied to film and videography, the focus will strictly be still photography (no darkroom work). Each weekend module will include some group fieldwork.

Focus Project

Each apprentice will be challenged to adopt an area of focus to be pursued throughout the three-month period; the selection of focus areas must be pre-approved and finalized prior to arrival for the first module. The focus project will be a combined photography and writing project that will be briefly presented at each weekend module: participants will get a chance to learn from others, discuss difficulties, explore moral or ethical dilemmas, brainstorm creative ideas. Thus each project will be repeatedly peer-reviewed and critiqued as it unfolds and develops and deepens. Projects can be chosen which have some connection to life outside of the United States, facilitating the option for subsequent independent or structured explorations outside the US. Several examples (of which there are many) include:

Š  Religion or Religious Fundamentalism

Š  Climate (research, weather as a weapon, species loss, carbon trading)

Š  Infectious diseases (malaria & malaria research, vaccines, dengue fever)

Š  Racial privilege or discrimination (racial profiling, slavery, exclusion, Apartheid)

Š  Organics & Agribusiness (starvation, subsidies, false labeling, small farms)

Š  Small Arms Trade & Gun Control

Š  Cuba (émigrés, refugees, lobby, blockade)

Š  Gender & Sexuality issues (Slave trade, sex workers, population control)

Š  Cambodia (refugees, trade, tourism, land mines)

Š  Heroin Abuse and trade (opium from Afghanistan, Myanmar, Thailand)

Š  Chocolate (neocolonialism, slavery in Africa)

Š  Diamonds (neocolonialism, false advertising, Harvard, blood diamonds)

Š  Nuclear Technology (radiation sickness, uranium mining abroad, Chernobyl)

Š  Water (Coca Cola, privatization, big dams)

 

It is important to underscore that the possibilities for self-exploration for the Focus Project are unlimited, and that they are not dependent on the interests, beliefs or politics of anyone but the apprentice, and should be a reflection of every individual apprentice’s passions for discovery, truth and justice. (I often say, a good writer can write an interesting story about a worm, or an empty glass: it is not the subject, it is the creative genius that one invests into it which dictates whether it will be meaningful, interesting, exciting to read, or absolutely mediocre. That said, this apprenticeship program has a definite bias in favor of projects of practical value with a social or environmental justice angle.)

Like the overall program itself, each Focus Project will require heavy reading, research and fieldwork. By the end of the three-month period the focus will have shifted to writing, compiling, presenting and, ideally, publishing the material. This phase of the project will extend beyond the initial three months, and mentoring will be available as needed. While collaborative partnership is essential from start to finish, the project, the “work,” will be transitioned fully into the hands and heart of the apprentices.

It is hoped that all participants will bring their unique life experience to the program, and will challenge all others, including the instructor(s), to deepen their understanding, commitment and ways of being, and to grow and expand toward ever greater self-realization, in the process of this communal and experiential program.

Participants will graduate to full apprentice status when they have completed Phase One of REPORTING WITH HEART and will be eligible to help organize and lead subsequent Phase One programs and/or Phase Two field missions.

Expectations & Commitments

The REPORTING WITH HEART apprenticeship does not promise to offer you a great “financial” investment—one that has a good chance of paying off financially. However, experience indicates that personal drive and initiative are important factors that can dictate the kinds and levels of “success” and these can be financial. The true rewards of this program are realized in terms of its unique educational and experiential opportunities, involving personal growth, radical awareness, the nurturing of compassion, social justice and equality, and the pursuit of something that cannot be quantified: right livelihood. There is also the community and camaraderie.

The REPORTING WITH HEART program will require commitment from all participants. From the organizer(s) apprentices will receive the highest level of commitment to the objectives and goals of the program, and support to achieve these, and in return all apprentices are expected to demonstrate the highest level of commitment on their part, and to support the overall objectives of the program, and the other participants in it, while always being completely free to excel in their own way, based on unique talents and individual interests and passions.

How to Apply

Seriously interested parties should request further information and/or request that an application package be sent to him or her. While experience in some or all of the areas that this training will cover are helpful, they are not necessary or required. In fact, institutional education or experience on a daily paper, for example, are potential handicaps. As a participant accepted into the program you will be expected and challenged to fully participate in every possible training opportunity to push your skills to a higher level of excellence, although your health, including rest and rejuvenation, will be the priority.

Program Leadership & Direction

The apprenticeship program will be directed by keith harmon snow; see work and credentials at www.allthingspass.com. It is anticipated that there will be a guest “teacher” for parts of each module.

Deadlines & Contingencies

The deadline for enrollment on the Summer 2007 program is February 15. If interested please request information immediately. Please only serious enquiries. The details of this program a work-in-progress, are subject to change. 

NOTE: THERE IS NO CERTAINTY THAT THIS PROGRAM WILL RUN AGAIN AT ANY TIME IN THE FUTURE.