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Journalists from Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting share international projects at Elon

September 28, 2012

Three visiting journalists for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting each introduced the American audience to a foreign piece of the universe during a presentation at Elon University Sept. 27. The three guests used different styles and media to tell their story, yet all effectively gave voice to an unfamiliar population.

“As a journalist you have to add 100 percent of the facts,” said Dominic Bracco, a photojournalist who used still images to portray the lives of children in Juarez, Mexico.

While working in Juarez, a city directly across the United States border, Bracco observed children accustomed to violence. During his time reporting on the novena, a small group of kids involved in a street gang, three have been killed. Approximately 11,000 deaths have occurred in the last four years, he said.

Bracco captured a family’s reaction after a U.S. border patrol shot into Mexico, killing their 15-year-old son. The story provoked a national debate about the United States’ border policies and the right to shoot into the neighboring country.

Despite the national influence, for Bracco, the story illuminated the plight of the individuals involved.

“It reminded me the most important part of the story is the people,” he said. “What is a 15-year-old kid doing smuggling things across the border?”

Following Bracco’s presentation, Kem Knapp Sawyer, an author, discussed her experience in Haiti two years after the devastating earthquake.

Kem Knapp Sawyer documented Cynthia’s life living in a tent camp two years after the earthquake in Haiti. Photo by Melissa Kansky.

“The afternoon of January 12, 2010, 200,000 people were killed in Haiti and lost their homes in less than 30 minutes,” Sawyer said.

The journalist reported on the remnants of the earthquake’s effects, focusing on a school girl who lives in a tent camp with her parents. The short movie illustrates Cynthia’s daily life, following her as she leaves home to use a friend’s shower, eats breakfast and plays with friends at school.

Although the school offers isolation from the rest of the world, Sawyer acknowledged the importance of sharing the young girl’s experience with the American public.

“It matters that we as journalists let the world know 50,000 Haitians are still living in tent camps,” she said.

To conclude the evening, Glenn Baker, a documentarian, showed his documentary, “Easy like Water,” which chronicles a man’s innovative plan to combat the overflowing waters in Bangladesh.

When rising rivers prevented children from attending school, a local architect designed boats to bring education to the students. While the documentary first introduces the audience to the innovator, Baker shared a clip that depicts the lives of two girls in the neighborhood.

With a large percentage of girls marrying before the age of 18, the boat offers an opportunity otherwise unavailable, he explained.

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