Photographs, words and sounds
Posts Tagged ‘dispatches’

CBC Dispatches

In 2007, I did two documentaries for CBC’s Dispatches. One was on Croatian elections at the time and the other on the aftermath of the conflict in the Croatian city of Vukovar, which was completely destroyed in the war during the early 1990s. That documentary, with a selection of photographs that were never really meant to be published, is below.

Today, due to recent government cuts, CBC has cancelled Dispatches. This was, without exaggeration, one of the top current international affairs programs in English language anywhere. What made it great was the team that put it together. I learned more about journalism and radio from Alan Guettel, Alison Masemann and Naheed Mustafa during our brief conversations while putting those documentaries together than in four years of university. And that is the real loss to Canadians. CBC and its flagship programs, like Dispatches, don’t just provide news and entertainment programming, but also provide mentoring and teaching opportunities for journalists, especially freelancers. I will miss the voice of Rick MacInnes-Rae and I will always be grateful to Alan, Alison and Naheed.

The last show will air in June. After that, in this increasingly interconnected world, we are going to be slightly poorer, slightly more parochial, slightly more ignorant, and slightly less Canadian- not by much in the grand scheme of things, but I am afraid that it is starting to add up.

In the photo is a door on a stage in a resettled community of Fair Island.

[Old Blog] GEOG-4010 – Entry 3 – On ethnographies

Entry 3 – January 19, 2009
Ethnographies – I’ll give you ethnographies

At the time when newspapers are folding and good magazine writing is getting hard to find, the popularity of ethnographies among social scientists is highly amusing (and sad).

If you know where to look for decent journalism, you can still find the good stuff: Muzamil Jaleel’s piece A Kashmiri in America: the lucky shade of brown in dispatches magazine is brilliant (think of dispatches as National Geographic for grown-ups).

If you really want to know what it’s like to do fieldwork in a hostile environment, read John Kifner’s Of turbans and neckties: why past defines present in that same issue. That link will take you to the full text. It’s a crash course on international relations and probably more useful than most books on the subject.

If Jaleel and Kifner were to read Crang and Cook’s text on writing ethnographies, they would probably be nodding at passages like this:

“In reality, research is an embodied activity that draws in our whole physical person, along with all its inescapable identities. What we bring to the research affects what we get, so as Steve Herbert has put it, ‘ethnographies are as much about the culture of the student as they are of the studied’”


”…it is not sheer number, ‘typicality’ or ‘representativeness’ of people approached which matters, but the quality and positionality of information that they can offer.”

That is precisely why hiring a local stringer is not good enough. A good reporter is an interpreter between cultures – his own and the one he observes.

I would feel quite comfortable arguing that a journalist, unburdened by theories and paradigms is a more apt ‘ethnographer’ than an anthropologist. The difference between them might be that today is much easier to obtain funding for your project as an anthropologist than a journalist. And journalists try not to invent new words like ‘positionality’.

Am I bitter? You bet.

To leave you with something useful at the end of this rant here is a link to the writing tips for 21st century [h/t to Mark Hamilton].

Croatian word of the day: novinarstvo journalism


[Old Blog] Dispatches piece from Vukovar

This is not a multimedia piece in a sense that the photos are simply snaps I was never happy about and really had no intention of posting them on their own. The photos were not made so that they support the story. However, as Dispatches piece ran today, I decided to string them together for you so that you can get at least a little bit of a feel for the place as you listen to the radio part of it. I hope you like it. I also included the captions which have a bit more information if you are so inclined. As always, I encourage you to subscribe to the Dispatches podcast – really, really good radio.

Speaking of radio, I picked this up while listening to BBC’s The Now Show podcast. Apparently, there is a device shopping malls are installing to prevent teens from loitering. It’s called Ultrasonic Teenage Deterrent (I kid you not). It emits high frequency sound that usually only people under the age of 25 can hear. British teens already figured out it makes a perfect cell ringtone that teachers can’t hear.

Croatian word of the day: rat: war

[Old Blog] CBC piece on Croatian election, Black Tickle, Peter Power, and posavina horses

A piece I did for the CBC’s Dispatches on Croatia before the 2007 parliamentary election aired yesterday. The show is available as a podcast and I would really encourage you to subscribe to it. It’s one of the best such programs anywhere and it provides a Canadian perspective on the world, something that is getting harder and harder to get in the print media.

Working on a longish piece like this with CBC producers was a really, really positive experience. I learned a ton of stuff and I am really excited about working on another piece that I might be doing for them.

Now, I want to send you to a multimedia piece done by the Globe and Mail photographer Peter Power on a small community in northern Labrador Black Tickle. Peter also has a thoughtful and well written blog which I added bellow. I am not sold on the use of video in this particular piece. I am not sure that it adds to the story something that a still image would not convey better.

These are posavina horses in Lonjsko Polje Nature Park.

Croatian word of the day: sretan: happy