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THE TRUTH IS IN TROUBLE
Celebrity gossip dominates headlines while news organizations continue to shut down their overseas bureaus. The world may be growing smaller and more interconnected but we're more in the dark than ever before.
That's why the need has never been greater for independent, professional foreign correspondents. At the Stony Brook University School of Journalism, we are doing something about it. We've created a bootcamp to train the next generation of overseas reporters. And now we need your help.
Our Kickstarter goal is to raise $16,800 in order to send sixteen bright and dedicated student journalists on a reporting trip to Kenya in order to gather reliable, on-the-ground reporting from a severely underreported region of the world. The goal of the trip will be to produce publishable print and multimedia stories, as well as a short documentary film. When we return home, we will build a special Kenya section on the school's Journalism Without Walls website, which will contain all of the student journalism from the trip, including articles, audio slideshows, interviews, the best of our photojournalism and a special featurette.
The students will also pitch their stories to major news organizations, in hopes of landing their first big bylines. Lend us your support, and you will have access to their stories before anyone else.
JOURNALISM WITHOUT WALLS
Stony Brook's groundbreaking, hands-on reporting program has already sent aspiring correspondents to China, Russia and Cuba. In January, I'm leading the team on a reporting trip to the Turkana Basin in Kenya's Rift Valley. The Kenya project is more costly than previous Journalism Without Walls projects, so we are launching a Kickstarter campaign in order to make it happen.
The money we raise will cover student airfare, as well as go towards any other expenses incurred to produce these stories: translators, transportation, lodging in the Turkana Basin. We have the equipment and the reporting chops to do these stories justice - what we don't have is enough money to get there. Our team of student journalists includes writers, producers, photographers, and videographers. Now we need the support and participation of readers and news consumers in order to bring the stories to life.
THE LAST FRONTIER
For months, we've been gathering reporting and research on the Turkana region in Kenya - a beautiful, arid land some call "the last frontier." Turkana is home to the world's largest alkaline lake, now under threat due to a controversial proposal to build a hydroelectric dam on the Omo River. It is an important environmental and human rights story – but a dismally underreported one.
And it only starts there: The Turkana Basin is full of stories that will inform, move and impact you. Stories about health and education. Stories about oil. And about the indigenous people of the Turkana region fighting to survive threats posed by urbanization and development. There's even a story about goat dung being used to supply energy to a local maternity clinic. There are many rich stories here and we want to bring them to you.
Stony Brook is home to the only journalism school in New York State's public higher education system. Many of our students are working their way through school in order to earn a journalism degree, while juggling the demands of a rigorous curriculum and unpaid news internships. They know the job market they will enter is changing, but they believe in the future of journalism and they are dedicated to doing it right.
An experiential reporting trip that takes students beyond the walls of the campus community is a singular learning opportunity. It's not just something to put on a job application - it is the chance to do real journalism in an underreported region of the world and bring back stories that may not otherwise be heard.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
We are preparing by doing thorough research and reporting in advance of the trip. We're speaking with locals, with journalists, NGO workers, and people who work at TBI as part of our reconnaissance. We're also reaching out to local authorities in order to set up the necessary permissions and access to the stories we want to do. That said, every foreign correspondent knows that something always goes wrong. That's why we have contingency stories in place, in case some of the stories we want to do won't be available to us.
Likewise, in anticipating how busy we'll get with the start of a new semester in February, we've made most of the rewards as easy to deliver as possible: ie digitally. We've also secured an extra week after the trip in our journalism school newsroom for post-production. We know we'll be jet-lagged and tired, but we are determined to do justice to these stories. It is the best way we can think of to thank the people of Turkana for letting us into their homes and sharing their stories.
We need a minimum of sixteen students to go on this trip in order for it to work. If we can raise $16,000, it will cover the bulk of the team's airfare costs. The $800 we've added on top will cover Kickstarter and Amazon payment costs. If we don't meet our goal completely, we get none of the money.
We could only be so lucky! The actual cost of the trip is much (much) more than $16,800, so the more money we raise, the more affordable this trip becomes for our student journalists. On top of airfare, we have to pay for lodging, food, in-country transportation and translators. The students are ready to pay for that out of their own pockets - and the journalism school will offer travel fellowships to the students in most need - but every dollar raised makes this trip more affordable.
The trip will take place over the winter term. We will travel to Kenya on January 9, 2013 and return on January 21st for a week of production in the Stony Brook School of Journalism newsroom.
Turkana is located in the Rift Valley in northern Kenya, just south of Ethiopia.
Turkana has been called the last frontier on earth. It is one of the most underdeveloped - and underreported - regions in the world. We believe there is a real need to tell these stories.
We will be staying at the Turkana Basin Institute (http://www.turkanabasin.org/), which belongs to Stony Brook University. Dozens of Stony Brook students travel to TBI every year to do archeological research. It is a safe region and a protected compound, and we will have local guides taking care of us. We will also bring bug spray.
Because that's who signed up for the trip! (it's open to boys too)
Professor llana Ozernoy, who teaches at The Stony Brook School of Journalism after a decade of working as a foreign correspondent for The Boston Globe, U.S. News & World Report and Marketplace Radio. Professor Ozernoy began her career in the Afghan outback, where she covered the war in 2001. She later spent two years in Iraq, where she helped establish and run the Baghdad bureau for U.S. News. She has also reported and written from Russia, Eastern and Northern Africa, Central Asia and all over the Middle East. Don't worry: she knows what she's doing.
Journalism Without Walls is a unique educational program created and run by the faculty of The Stony Brook University School of Journalism, which takes student journalists on experiential reporting trips all around the world. The aim of the program is to give students real, hands-on reporting experience that will prepare them for the challenges they will face as working journalists. Under the guidance of their professors, student reporters travel to underreported regions of the world to produce print, video and multimedia pieces, as well as build a website. Journalism Without Walls has already traveled to China, Cuba, Russia and the Gulf of Mexico. In January, we head to Kenya's Rift Valley. Kenya 2013!