The United States and Mexico share deep personal, economic, geographic and cultural connections, but understanding — on both sides of the border — is often limited by stereotype and media exaggeration. Round Earth Media is out to change that. We launched in 2005, with a bounty of stories from Mexico, supported by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Now, in a groundbreaking new collaboration and with generous support from the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, Round Earth Media is pairing young American and Mexican journalists, to produce powerful, untold stories from Mexico. These stories are broadcast and published in top-tier media, reaching huge audiences in both countries. Here’s our latest, broadcast on NPR. Mexico City artist Pedro Reyes is in the process of converting thousands of narco gang weapons seized by the government into musical instruments. Click HERE to listen.
March 19th, 2013 | By Mary Stucky
February 22nd, 2013 | By Mary Stucky
This week marks the two-year anniversary of Morocco’s version of the so-called Arab Spring. It didn’t unseat a dictator. But, tens of thousands of Moroccans took to the streets demanding democracy. Morocco’s powerful King diffused the protest by offering a few reforms. But little has changed for most Moroccans – especially the country’s young people. Many have found their voice in rap music. From Morocco on The World, with stunning photos by student photojournalist Shalea Harris. The latest from Round Earth Media’s groundbreaking collaboration with SIT Study Abroad. Click HERE to listen and view the photos.
February 19th, 2013 | By Mary Stucky
Mexico City artist Pedro Reyes is in the process of converting thousands of narco gang weapons seized by the government into musical instruments. Mexican reporter Omar Sanchez de Tagle, paired with American reporter Marlon Bishop, produced this story as part of Round Earth’s Mexico Reporting Project. Omar’s story appears in Animal Politico, a major Mexican investigative news website.
To read this powerful story in Spanish, view photos and a video, click HERE.
Our untold stories, published and broadcast in top-tier media, reach huge audiences in the U.S. and in the countries where we are reporting.
November 28th, 2012 | By Mary Stucky
November 21st, 2012 | By Mary Stucky
Throughout North Africa and the Middle East, young people have been at the forefront of revolution and political change. In Morocco, thousands took to the streets last year raising their voices, calling for reforms and demanding to be heard. That demand was in full force at a recent symposium in Rabat, Morocco’s capital.
“I think it is time to have this conversation,” said Yousef El Miadi, a cultural studies student at University of Mohamed V in Rabat, Morocco. “Not from older to younger, but from man-to-man.”
The October 22 symposium, “Youth & Civil Society,” sparked dialogue and debate. One hundred Moroccans and Americans, most of them students, crowded into a meeting room at the University of Mohamed V for the symposium which was sponsored by World Learning, the parent organization of SIT Study Abroad which runs three programs for American students in Rabat including a journalism program in collaboration with Round Earth Media. Moroccan academics and researchers presented their findings on subjects ranging from youth civil service to religious education to the uses of social media in bringing about political change.
“For right or for wrong, your generation is going to inherit a number of really vexing, very challenging critical global issues,” said Adam Weinberg, president and CEO of World Learning, who addressed the gathering.
November 8th, 2012 | By Mary Stucky
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Round Earth’s Mexico Reporting Project: Isabella Cota and Annie Murphy reporting in Mexico
The U.S. and Mexico share deep personal, economic, geographic and cultural connections, but our understanding of Mexico is often limited by stereotype and media exaggeration. This fall, Round Earth Media is pairing young American and Mexican journalists, in a groundbreaking collaboration, to produce untold stories from Mexico, stories rich in place and humanity. These stories will reach huge audiences in the United States and in Mexico.
An indigenous village in Mexico got fed up with gangs and illegal loggers acting with impunity. So they kicked them out, kicked out their local authorities and set up their own government. And some other villages are looking at it too. “Josephina,” pictured above, was one of the first to get organized. For security she doesn’t want to be identified. Photo: Isabella Cota
Click HERE to listen to this story which ran nationwide on The World.
September 26th, 2012 | By Mary Stucky
Veronica Jean Seltzer, a Classics major at Tufts University in Boston, and Sara Ait Khorsa, a journalism student at the Institut Supérieur de l’Information et de la Communication in Rabat, teamed up to produce In Morocco Some Dream of a Kingly Gift, just broadcast nationwide on the public radio program, Marketplace.
CLICK HERE for this surprising story, which helps explain why the “Arab Spring” did not topple Morocco’s king.
Our program comes as U.S. newsrooms are contracting and closing and as the desire for stories outside U.S. borders is greater than ever before. Democracy in our interconnected world depends on independent journalism!
Look for more stories soon and, please, tell any aspiring journalist to sign up NOW for our Spring 2013 program, unique among journalism programs world-wide!
September 16th, 2012 | By Mary Stucky
With the Arab world erupting in protests, Round Earth Media is back in Morocco re-launching our ground-breaking journalism program in collaboration with SIT Study Abroad.
Twelve American journalism students, mentored by Round Earth’s veteran journalists, will spend almost four months in Morocco, learning from Moroccan experts, academics, and activists while reporting on this country which is being called a “key U.S. ally” in a volatile region. Some of our students are majoring in journalism, others in academic subjects ranging from geography to philosophy – all are immersed in life here, living with familes in Rabat’s ancient medina.
What a great time and place to explore issues of free speech, press rights, the power of social media and the importance of journalism ethics and accurate reporting – not to mention the chance to report on Islamic movements, gender issues, the environment, economy, art and culture.
What do we conclude about this week’s protests from our perch in Morocco? There were non-violent protests in Casablanca on Wednesday and after prayers on Friday in Sale (Rabat’s twin town across a river), but the weekend has been quiet and Morocco is once again proving its “exceptionalism.” Writing in the New York Times, Harvey Morris says this “North African kingdom is regarded by the United States and Europe as an island of stability in a sea of troubles.”
Morocco may be relatively stable but it is not a democracy. In Morocco, the press, the government and the economy are controlled by the king and his coterie. More than half of all Moroccan women can neither read nor write. One in two young people are unemployed. While Morocco has avoided an Arab Spring revolution and the chaos that’s engulfing its neighbors, this country still faces enormous challenges. Many Moroccans live squalid and difficult lives.
Their stories are waiting to be told.
July 15th, 2012 | By Mary Stucky
Nancy Fushan has had a long career as an award winning arts journalist and a program officer for major American foundations. On her first trip to Morocco, Nancy witnessed our innovative new journalism program. Here is her reflection.
It is 3 p.m. and a dozen American exchange students arrive at Mohammed V University on the outskirts of Rabat, Morocco’s capital city. They are here on the groundbreaking journalism program, a partnership between Round Earth Media and SIT Study Abroad. For the past week, I’ve watched this group absorb information in lectures featuring well-known journalists, scholars, and artists. I’ve shared a lunch with them in the mountain town of Azrou and heard about their adventures interacting with the locals. Over glasses of mint tea, there have been the intense discussions as Mary and the program’s co-academic director, Taieb Belghazi, have challenged the students’ political and cultural assumptions. They’ve developed and presented topics and story ideas that will culminate in their final Independent project for the semester, a major feature story or photo essay.
But today is special. They’re about to meet a group of Moroccan journalism students, courtesy of one of Mary’s many Rabat contacts and partners. Today’s assignment is for the U.S. and Moroccan students to form partnerships that will provide them both with insights, context, and assistance from developing reporting resources to providing translation services. This would be daunting for many seasoned reporters on foreign assignment, let alone this group of novice journalists, international relations, anthropology, and classics majors. Mary knows this and even she is nervous as we step out of the bus, “Am I out of my mind to think this can actually happen?” Moroccan media studies professor Khadija Zizi reassures her. “Nothing to worry about…they’ll be fine,” says Khadija as the young Moroccans enter the classroom. They sit as a group by themselves. The tension is evident. I myself see reason for doubt.
June 19th, 2012 | By Round Earth Media
At Round Earth Media, we teach students to produce great journalism about important global issues. But that’s not all. When a student story is exceptionally good, we help students publish and broadcast their stories and photographs in top-tier media – like The New York Times.
Our pioneering program in Morocco, in partnership with SIT Study Abroad, resulted in student stories placed in major media outlets in the United States. Proof positive that undergraduate students can produce journalism of the highest professional and ethical standards, while receiving a powerful experience in cross-cultural learning. (Read the story our students placed in The New York Times.)
“I think I’ll take back, not only the notion that we can accomplish these things but also that you don’t have to be a certain age to achieve what you’ve been dreaming or working for. It gives us a legitimacy that I never thought I’d obtain for ten more years,”said Kirsten Kortebein, a student on the Morocco journalism program. In addition to the New York Times, Kortebein’s photos, produced on the Morocco program, appeared in Outside Magazine and Runner’s World. That’s an incredible accomplishment for an undergraduate!
Kortebein, a student at the University of Michigan, worked in partnership with another student on the Morocco program, reporter Jacqueline Kantor, a journalism major at the University of North Carolina. Their first big challenge was to find a good story and these intrepid young journalists went looking with a vengeance. What they found is the Marathon des Sables, often called the toughest footrace on earth, running 153 miles through the Sahara desert where temperatures can reach 122 degrees. The race draws nearly a thousand athletes from all over the world but no one had ever done a story about the desert runners who dominate this grueling marathon.
“It was cool to be able to tell their story.” said Kantor. “It’s pretty well known within the country and within people who are interested in desert races about these people but it wasn’t out there [in the press]. So now I like the fact that if you Google ‘desert Moroccan runners,’ ‘Sahara runners,’ people will know who they are.”
Both Kantor and Kortebein say they plan to pursue journalism careers after graduation. The Morocco program attracted budding student journalists interested in print, broadcast, film and photography. Many students were not journalism majors – classics, anthropology and international relations majors were among those represented on the program. Kantor remembers a time when the students were hanging out in a cafe in Morocco and one turned to her, in awe of their opportunity.
“[She] was like ‘We’re in Morocco right now, in a foreign country, and we’re all leaving on assignments tomorrow. How cool is that? Like are we going to be doing the same thing in 20 years? Meeting in some other random country?’ I feel like we’ll all stay in contact after this but also on a professional level.”
“I think we clicked really well,” said Kortebein, adding that she and Kantor supported each other in the field, which was especially challenging given the extreme desert weather.
Partnerships are essential to the Round Earth model. Too often, American journalists parachute into a country for just a few weeks of reporting, failing to grasp the nuances and complexities of what is, for them, a foreign country. But Round Earth Media journalists avoid those pitfalls by collaborating with the most promising early-career journalists in the countries where Round Earth is reporting. Together, these journalist teams produce stories for top-tier media in the U.S. and abroad.
The journalism program in Morocco is the first time that this model has been applied to student journalists. For more than two months, six student pairs — an American partnered with a Moroccan — worked to produce what one of the Moroccan students calls “a mosaic bowl of articles” from the topic of racism in Morocco to the Soulaliyate women’s land rights movement and a documentary film about fishermen on Morocco’s western coast. Vital to the program’s success is the support and enthusiasm from Professor Khadija Zizi and her colleagues at ISIC (L’Institut Supérieure de l’Information et de la Communication), the journalism school in Rabat, Morocco.
Professor Zizi called the student partnership “a great opportunity for the [Moroccan] students to work under the supervision of a professional journalist and international leader.”
The Moroccan journalism students received a “Certificate in International Journalism from Round Earth Media and SIT Study Abroad.
“We were always together to discuss every detail,” said Moroccan journalism student Youssra El Hassani. “The idea of pairs is very important.”
The American students agree. “Not only have we been able to pick up valuable journalistic skills from each other, we have been able to exchange our cultures and become great friends,” said Antinnea Skipwith. “I think working in partnership is the best way to work.”
While the timing of the Marathon did not accommodate a Moroccan journalism student partner on their story, Kantor and Kortebein agree that the best journalism is produced in partnership. This chance to work together (writers and photographers, Americans and Moroccans), is just one of many rare opportunities offered by this groundbreaking journalism program in Morocco.
“I have always loved [journalism] and this has made me appreciate it even more than I did already,” said Kantor. “It’s an excuse to talk to people, an excuse to do things you’ve never done, an excuse to spend ten days in the desert wandering around one of the biggest races in the world.”
FOR REFLECTIONS FROM AN EYEWITNESS TO THIS PROGRAM, CLICK HERE.