December 13, 2005
Far Flung Fellows
BY Stephen Talbot
They've roamed the back streets of Cairo, interviewed Zapatista rebels in Chiapas, and covered elections in Afghanistan.
Once a year, we set loose upon the world a half dozen or so FRONTLINE/World Fellows to practice the art of backpack journalism. We award travel grants to talented students enrolled at graduate schools of journalism who convince us they can take their laptops, digital cameras and lightweight video gear to places like Sicily and Rwanda and bring back stories that will surprise, inform and entertain us.
Shanghai native Xiaoli Zhou (left) traveled to the remote southwest corner of China to bring back her beautifully shot story about China's last matriarchal society in "The Women's Kingdom."
Generously underwritten by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, our Fellows project encourages a new generation of international reporters. So far, our far-flung Fellows have published 15 multimedia stories on our Web site, starting with Robin Shulman's prescient report in 2003 on Israel's shifting boundaries and controversial security wall, "Tracing Borders," and continuing through Xiaoli Zhou's popular video last summer, "The Women's Kingdom," about the last matriarchal society in China.
This week FRONTLINE/World presents the latest Fellows work, "Cutting the Wire" -- a video report from Brazil by Chad Heeter and Adam Raney of U.C. Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. It's the first in a new round of six multimedia stories, which will appear on our Web site over the next few months. Look for in-depth reports from Colombia, Italy, Japan, China, Uganda and Pakistan.
In spring 2006, on this site, we will solicit more proposals from students at Berkeley, Columbia and Northwestern journalism schools to compete for our travel fellowships.
In the first Fellows report, Robin Schulman took a 10-day journey through Israel, the West Bank and Gaza to trace the official security wall as well as the unofficial borders that separate the people of the region.
The purpose of the FRONTLINE/World Fellows program is to identify and mentor promising young reporters willing to travel to remote or under-reported parts of the globe and bring back important stories that might otherwise go unnoticed. We work closely with these students to shape, edit and design their stories in a way that will showcase their intrepid reporting.
Heeter and Raney are a perfect example. They ventured off the beaten path into the Brazilian countryside to witness and film the occupation of a cattle ranch by a thousand landless workers and activists. When the student reporters joined a bus caravan headed west from Sao Paulo, they weren't exactly sure what they were getting into -- and organizers were deliberately vague about what was going to happen. But after many hours on the bus, Heeter and Raney suddenly found themselves in the middle of a noisy but well-coordinated, nighttime land invasion.
They brought back vivid video footage and an insightful story about Brazil's radical land reform movement, which has succeeded in pressuring the government to redistribute millions of acres of land, but has infuriated wealthy landowners.
Watch "Cutting the Wire," take a journey to a place you've never been, and tell us what you think of these "stories from a small planet."
And when you have a chance, take a look at some of our past Fellows stories, such as Shoshana Guy's poignant account of Haiti's water crisis, Jason Felch and Chris Raphael's award-wining journey into Peru's Amazon rain forest, and Marton Dunai's quirky vignettes of old and new Europe as he travels by train from Istanbul to Paris. You can see the entire collection here.
These stories are as fresh and engaging today as they were when we first posted them, and they will give you a sense of why we are so hopeful about this new generation of emerging journalists.