Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Peace Journalism Insights blog listed among 50 best
The Peace Journalism Insights blog has been listed in the Top 50 Journalism Blogs and Websites for Journalists by Feedspot, a leading online content platform and aggregator.

The blog, featuring commentary and news from the Center for Global Peace Journalism at Park University and around the world, is written and edited by Steven Youngblood, Park professor and director of the center.

"To be on the same list as the New York Times, the Society of Professional Journalists' blog, and the Nieman Center at Harvard University's website is quite an honor," Youngblood said. "I think it's a commentary on the important work being done by the Center for Global Peace Journalism, and reflects an uptick in interest in peace journalism generally."

Feedspot selected the winning websites and blogs based upon these criteria: Google reputation and search ranking; influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter, and other social media; quality and consistency of posts; and Feedspot's editorial team and expert review.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A busy 2016 to be followed by busier 2017
As I look back on 2016, I’m encouraged by what seems to me like growing interest in peace journalism generally and in the activities of the Center for Global Peace Journalism. Here is a partial list of our activities in 2016:

Kansas City area presentations: League of Women Voters; Johnson County Community College (JCCC) visiting scholar; Peacebuilding Conference (Park University and JCCC).

Others: Alliance for Peacebuilding in Washington, DC;  Juba, South Sudan; Munich, Germany; Klagenfurt, Austria; Salzburg, Austria; Freetown, Sierra Leone; Costa Rica (at the University for Peace).

Aborted, attempted workshop: Chennai, India (see previous post).

Publishing: Two editions of the Peace Journalist magazine; First US published peace journalism textbook—Peace  Journalism Principles and Practices.

In a bored (ha!) moment, I produced this map to show where I’ve taught PJ. I’m not sure if this is a testament to my energy or my insanity. (Click on map to enlarge)

2017 promises to be just as busy.

The signature project of 2017, and 2018-19 as well, is still in the planning stages, and can’t be officially announced until all the agreements are signed. I can say that it will involve me teaching several seminars in Nigeria in May, then bringing back 12 Nigerian journalists to Park University for a semester-long fellowship in the fall. Our partner in this project is one of the world’s most respected humanitarian organizations.

I also have plans to teach peace journalism projects in Cameroon and Pakistan, and to give at least several presentations here in the US, at the IVOH Annual Media Summit in New York in June, and at the NationalArchives in Kansas City in January. Of course, Park University and JCCC will also sponsor the fifth annual peacebuilding conference in late October or early November.

We’ll talk more in 2017. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

5 days in airports not conducive to hygiene, sanity
So far, I haven’t been shot, stabbed, poisoned, or hospitalized. So I’m thinking that things probably could be worse.

That said, I have been on airplanes or in airports since 7:00am Sunday morning KC time, which is about 72 hours at the time of this writing. Another 30 hours of travel lie ahead.

I look and smell like a turd, but not the fresh, steamy kind. Instead, I am the dried, hard, stale variety, like the turdlets that inevitably have acquired a few hairs and other foreign matter along their journey. My five o’clock shadow is now a gray, angry stubble farm—the type usually sported only by hobos or prospectors, who incidentally smell much better than I do. I call my piquant aroma, Eau de Transit Lounge. I have literally noticed people moving away from me when I sit down in their vicinity. I even thought I saw a few move closer after I passed gas, meaning that farts actually smell better than I do.

My hair is matted and my head itchy. On the plus side, it’s so disgusting that it would repel all but the hardiest vermin. However, these super vermin could be held at bay by my feet, which are epically vile. I’m guessing that when my stay in purgatory ends that cleaning between my toes will involve both Clorox and a chisel.
Fellow traveler Erin, as shot by
smart-alecky colleague Kristine.

I haven't slept more than 3 hours at a time in small stretches. If my brain were a power plant, right now, it would be generating the same amount of energy produced by elementary school science fair potato batteries, the ones where the wires stuck in the ends briefly illuminate a tiny flickering bulb .  The airports I’ve been in do have a few good napping spots, though these are as hard to come by as a shopping mall parking space on black Friday. Mostly, my napping has been vertical and done in hard plastic chairs (the ones with the big semicircular metal arm rests separating seats) designed by the Marquis de Sade. My revolting body revolts occasionally to this lack of sleep with what can best be described as narcoleptic episodes wherein I suddenly lapse into unconsciousness for a few seconds, only to be awakened again by my slumping head snapping back into place. On the plus side, I’m not operating any heavy machinery.

This could be hell, although my hell would feature inescapable, piped-in "musac" of twangy country music. Also, my hell wouldn’t feature my students Erin and Kristine, two exemplary, entertaining travel companions whose fate has been similar to mine, only without the gray facial stubble.

The reasons we flew to India then turned around and returned home without so much as leaving the airport are as malodorous as I am, and not nearly as interesting. I’m too groggy to get angry again. Instead, I’ll count my blessings—Erin, Kristine, a really good schwarma sandwich I just had for lunch, my Chernobyl-like zone of exclusion that features a 20-ft DMZ around wherever I’m sitting, and the amusement of watching people’s expressions as they look at me with horror, fascination, and pity.

Also, thus far, I haven’t been shot, stabbed, poisoned, or hospitalized. I think I may have mentioned this, but you’ll forgive me since I just zoned out for a few seconds.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Final update: Immigration does what Cyclone can't
Our peace journalism project in Chennai, India had to be cancelled due to visa problems (long, long story). We are en route home. All tired and stinky but otherwise well. And yes, petty, narrow-minded Indian immigration officials did accomplish what a cyclone couldn't--washing out our workshop. Words can't describe how disappointed I am for my students Erin and Kristine, who have continued to be exemplary travel companions despite our many travails.

Update--8 hrs later, still waiting; students still cyclone suspects

It's about 8 hours later, and we're still waiting for our flight to cyclone-damaged Chennai, India.(See post below) Our flight is supposed to leave in about 2.5 hours, but we'll see. Though I cling to my contention that my students guests Erin Harrell and Kristine Kennedy may be to blame for the cyclone, I must confess that I am proud of their whine-free demeanor during this travel ordeal that began 30 hours ago. They are real troopers.

Students to blame for cyclone
Chennai, India, where myself and two Park students are headed on a peace journalism project this week, was struck by Cyclone Vardah today. (A cyclone is what they call a hurricane in these parts). For details, see: .

We're in Abu Dhabi (UAE) waiting for our connecting flight to Chennai. Our first flight was cancelled, but we're re-booked on a later flight that gets into Chennai at 3:35am tomorrow. My Chennai contact tells me power is out in the city, and many streets are flooded. Thus, our seminar scheduled to start tomorrow will start Wednesday instead.

As for the headline above, one fact is beyond dispute: When I travel alone, no cyclone. When I travel with students, it's cyclone city.

More later.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Sierra Leone journalists share lessons from Ebola reporting
FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE--Journalism during times of extreme crisis can literally be a matter of life and death. Just ask the 30 journalists who attended my peace journalism workshop last Thursday in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

When discussing their coverage of the Ebola crisis, which officially ended just one year ago here in Sierra Leone, several reporters shared stories of extraordinary peace journalism. A producer/reporter team talked about the lengths they went to insure that their listeners got accurate information about the disease and how it is spread. One women reporter said that on many days, there were actually hourly updates. Journalists here risked their lives bringing reports from hospitals, treatment centers, and Ebola-endemic areas.

We all agreed on the importance of the work the journalists did during the crisis, and on the fact that incorrect information could have literally cost lives.
The producer/reporter team agreed, incidentally, to produce a longer article about their Ebola reporting for the April, 2017 Peace Journalist magazine.

In addition to Ebola reporting, we also discussed how peace journalism might apply to electoral and reconciliation journalism here. Though the civil war here ended in 2002, the reconciliation process is ongoing. This process, I suggested, could be assisted by news reports about peacebuilders and through the use of media platforms as forums for ongoing discussions.

I was impressed by my Sierra Leonese colleagues’ commitment to their profession, and look forward to working with them in the future.