This is a response to the Video for Change article that Gina posted in the latest email (which I think is actually a chapter after the one on Sakai). I really really appreciated the pragmatic approach that Cizek takes to working as a video journalist in dangerous situations. Her piece is comprehensive and best of all, draws on the experience a number of other working professionals. Since I was in grade school I have dreamt of being a journalist, and in high school did several different investigative pieces about local politicians, school segregation and the drug culture. Looking back, I think the work I was doing was very real, and even then I experienced harassment from school administrators and local politicians for the work.

As I continue to think about pursuing a career in journalism (or at least an activist practice in some form) I know that personal safety is and will be a huge concern. I think Cizek’s considerations of what it would mean to take up a false identity is very interesting –as I myself have often considered the merits of that. However, lately I have been thinking of a different method: hyper-visibility. This would mean that I am SO visible in my work and reach out to as many people as possible, that it would be disadvantageous to threaten it. Of course, this method has its limitations and hinges on personal ability to be visible.

I’m curious to hear what others think about this. Is safety and security in work something people think about?


About eliciasepstein

Documentarian; maker. Southern California.

2 responses »

  1. benliang02033 says:

    Well, i think it depend on what kind of journalist you wish to be. i dont know in America, but in China, journalist is really a hard and controversial vocation. Being a journalist, from my view, should expose dark side of the society and lead the “naive citizen” to the right track. However, none of the things i mentioned above will gain the support of the government or some companies. In China, we lack of the laws that could protect the journalists and government would prefer a steady society, which might break by journalists. It really need courage to be a “good” journalist, and the “hyper-visibility” can not protect you as the power of the government is undefeatable(at least in most developing countries)…

  2. haircomestrouble says:

    I have to agree with Jinbin, but I also want to add, that a lot should be given to the value of the story. Not every story is worth getting beat up and sent to prison for or losing valuable body parts. Some are, but not most. Part of being a journalist is knowing the difference and not being afraid to act confidently on that knowledge in whichever direction it takes you. Life is a long time and you can accomplish a lot more, and effect greater change as a working journalist rather than as a dead one.

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