In January 2011, Journalists for Human Rights sent 10 Canadian journalists to Ghana and Malawi, where they will spend the next six months working with local journalists in newsrooms and schools to produce stories about human rights. In addition to creating human rights media, our journalists will be chronicling their exploits for jhr’s blog, Field Notes, and for our blog site on thestar.com, Africa Without Maps. Read more about the contributors below and follow their blogs here.
Laura Bain is no stranger to Journalists for Human Rights, or Ghana, for that matter.Before kicking off her placement at the African University College of Communications (AUCC), where she will be working with faculty and students to host workshops, develop curriculum and support campus media, Bain spent three months in Ghana last year with jhr as a radio intern in Kumasi. At Kapital FM, Bain helped to produce a weekly human rights radio program called “Know Your Rights.” She worked on stories about the rights of children and sex workers in Ghana, in addition to a piece about the maltreatment of prisoners in the country.
Before joining jhr, Bain studied Professional Writing at York University, where she was a columnist for community newspaper, Excaliber and an editor at an arts and literature journal, Existere.
Since entering journalism in 2006, Sarah Berman has built her resume to include stints at the Vancouver Sun, and a number of magazines, including Adbusters, Discorder and Megaphone. She’s now adding to the roster with her current placement at the Daily Times in Blantyre, Malawi, where she’ll be working with local journalists for the next six months to coproduce human rights stories.
Last year, Berman traveled to Thailand to work on a five-part online documentary about the social and environmental impact of shrimp farming, which featured on the Globe and Mail website. She also wrote and produced an independent doc about illegal advertising in New York City, which has been screened in Canada and the USA. Berman has a Masters degree in journalism from the University of British Columbia and an undergraduate degree in media studies from the University of Western Ontario
As a chase researcher for CBC Montreal’s morning show, Denis Calnan would wake up, arrive at work and finish a story before most people leave the house in the morning. He’s now shifted his schedule, and his city—he’s working as an intern at Capital Radio in the heart of Blantyre, Malawi.
In addition to working at CBC in Montreal, Calnan has freelanced for Canadian Geographic and worked for CBC in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador. Calnan says he “finds living in communities all over the world is a very satisfying way to live life.” He has hitchhiked across Canada and stayed in cities across Canada—all because he loves getting to know his “massive and diverse country.” He’s also worked in Ethiopia and Guyana with Youth Challenge International. Calnan has a journalism degree from King’s College in Halifax.
A self-professed “culture junkie by nature,” Sarah Feldbloom says she was lucky to be born and raised in Toronto, a city inhabited by citizens from every corner of the globe. This setting only encouraged her to explore further, an urge which led her to Blantyre, Malawi, where she’s working for Star Radio.
Before heading to Malawi, Feldbloom worked as an editorial assistant for Global News Toronto and hosted and produced women’s radio shows for CHRY and CHMR. In addition, she collaborated on gallery, magazine and radio projects with community arts and media organizations including the Association for Media Literacy, Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre and For the Love of Learning.
Beyond her hunger to travel, Feldbloom wanted to work in Malawi to see how the medium she loved producing most was “made and absorbed in the continent where it is king.”
Born and raised in Ethiopia until he was seven, Atkilt Geleta spent much of his youth traveling—first to Japan, then to Canada, and then to Switzerland, where he lived for six years. He’s now landed in Ghana—for the second time—where he’s working at the Daily Guide newspaper to report on human rights issues. Geleta says he hopes to immerse himself in Ghana’s rich culture and looks forward to exploring the country in search of stories.
“Divinely guided” towards journalism, as he puts it, he got his introduction to the field with internships at Eye Weekly andSway Magazine in Toronto. “This opportunity combines my passion for journalism and development work,” he says. “It’s a chance to work with local journalists to shed light on issues that are often marginalized or forgotten about.”
Geleta has a degree in Political Science and International Development Studies from the University of Toronto.
Angela Johnston says that she loves getting to the “heart of a story by finding the everyday people involved,” which is precisely what she’ll be doing for the next six months interning at Citi FM in Accra, Ghana. Before arriving in Ghana, Johnston spent more than two years working for CBC in Saskatchewan as a reporter for radio and television. As a general assignment reporter, she covered a wide range of stories, including a piece about stalking victims pushing to change peace bond laws and a feature about 90-year-old farmers putting in another harvest for the year.
Johnston’s previous international experience includes interning for the CBC’s London bureau and working for a Canadian media program in Malawi. She is a graduate of Carleton University’s journalism program and has a Masters in media and globalization.
Katie C.H. Lin
For years now, Katie Lin has suffered from itchy feet. Since 2005, she has lived and worked in Sri Lanka, Mexico, Canada, England and today, finds herself in Blantyre, Malawi, working at the Malawi Institute of Journalism.
In 2010, Katie received her Masters degree in international multimedia journalism from Newcastle University in the UK, where she also trained with the BBC and the Press Association. She has since contributed stories, reviews and photographs to several UK-based publications, including The Journal, the Sunday Sun, and HotShoe magazine.
An avid photographer and media enthusiast, Lin is thrilled to have the opportunity to combine her passion for journalism, education and travel in her new role.
Learning the way the world works first-hand drives James Munson‘s passion for journalism. After graduating from the University of King’s College in 2008, he headed west to Denver to work for the Hill Times, where he finagled a ticket to hear Barack Obama accept the presidential candidacy. His impulse then lead him north to the Yukon News in Whitehorse, where he cut his teeth as an investigative reporter and feature writer.
He won the 2010 Ma Murray award in environmental writing for a story about the premier’s hand in suppressing the advice of scientists who recommended protecting the Peel watershed from mining. He also exposed the premier’s negotiations to sell the Yukon’s public power utility in 2009. James and the premier are no longer speaking.
His experience in northern Canada has prepared him for the rigours of Tamale in northern Ghana—he thrives on living in a strange places in strange times doing exhilarating work. He’s looking forward to working at Diamond FM where he hopes to focus his work on politics and governance issues.
Angela Pereira’s current position at the Malawi Institute of Journalism in Blantyre marries her longtime passion for media, international development and social justice.
While earning a Bachelor of Journalism at Carleton University, she interned at print and online publications including the Ottawa Citizen and University Affairs Magazine. But she never managed to remain on Canadian soil for long; she travelled to Central America with Development and Peace, a Canadian NGO, and was a journalism intern in Botswana. Upon graduation, she worked for Canada’s International Development Research Centre as a writer and media relations assistant.
This is Pereira’s second time in Malawi, where she worked for a year as a media and communications advisor for a local HIV/AIDS organization from 2009 to 2010.
Robin Pierro has somewhat of a habit of dashing off to foreign countries to get the story. Before landing her internship at TV Africa in Accra, Pierro travelled to Kenya, Ghana and Peru to produce three independent documentaries. In Kenya, Pierro spent weeks living and working in one of Africa’s largest slums, working on her film The Voice of Kibera.
Pierro’s current role at TV Africa is driven by her belief that journalists have the ability to empower, educate and evoke change through the stories they share.
She graduated from Ryerson University with a degree in journalism and was honored with the Joe Perlove Award for the best student journalist in their graduating year.