Archive for the ‘On the Move’ Category

Alex Pena is not wasting any time in hopes of becoming a foreign correspondent. He’s headed to East Africa to find stories no one else has told.  Here’s what he posted on Facebook on December 28th:

“Tomorrow, I leave the U.S. with my backpack, a camera, and a crazy dream of becoming a foreign correspondent. First stop, London, then off to the horn of Africa to start my new year. I’ll miss you all very much, but I’ve got to go!”

Alex just graduated a few weeks ago from Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida. He’ll be freelancing for Voice of America and plans to be based in Nairobi, Kenya.  He also hopes to pick up other freelance assignments with other media companies. 

Alex says “Two main stories I will look into is the rise of Islamic militants in Southern Somalia and the recent incursion of the Kenyan military to rid Somalia of them. Also the effect that has on food aid in the region as East Africa continues to struggle with the worst famine in over a century. The goal is to bring these stories to the mainstream media in America.”

TO BECOME A FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT …YOU MUST BE THERE

Alex’s inspiration to become a foreign correspondent was NBC’s Richard Engel.  Alex remembers going home from high school and watching Engel in action on television. Since then he’s met Engel in person and keeps in touch with him. 

Alex also knows that East Africa is not a region without conflict, and it may not be a safe place for a journalist.  But he believes this is the only way to find the stories he wants to cover. He adds “How else can I find the stories if I’m not there? On the ground reporting is very important to me. I’ve seen how powerful and important it can be, so being there seemed like the best way to tell the best stories.”

WHEN WAS THE SEED PLANTED?

Alex got interested in journalism after he took a television production class in high school.  Then he made his mark while going to Florida Gulf Coast University.    He recalls the school lacked equipment, but that didn’t stop him from learning.

The 22-year-old says “They had no cameras, and just a weekly newspaper. I remember finding an old photography tripod and turning my point and shoot camera to video mode and filing multiple stories that way. I edited on windows moviemaker and then posted the YouTube videos on the schools website.”

INTERNSHIPS OPEN DOORS

Alex was eager to learn as much as he could about journalism so he applied for multiple internships. That’s where he made good connections and got good experience.

He had five internships, mostly in local news and one with NBC News with Brian Williams.  Alex got that internship after he won the National Association of Hispanic Journalist’s student fellowship.

It was during his first week as a local news intern that Alex showed his fearlessness. He says “During my first week as an intern at NBC-2, the earthquake in Haiti hit. I grabbed my camcorder, managed to buy a plane ticket to the DR (Dominican Republic), and crossed the border into Haiti. I came back the next week for classes with a story about a local Fort Myers resident who went in search of his family in Haiti” 

Alex’s Haiti story impressed the local NBC affiliate’s news director who decided to air the story.   That opened the door for more opportunities for Alex.  More of his stories would later air on NBC-2.  

Alex also spent his own money on other assignments.  He headed to Mexico to cover the drug wars.  That landed him on CNN.  Alex has been such a stand out that ABC News student campus program awarded him “Roving Reporter of the Year. Professors at the school are amazed by Alex’s work, because the school doesn’t even have a journalism degree program.

BACKPACK JOURNALISM IS A MUST

Alex is a one-man-band. He shoots, edits, and reports.  He also knows the tools and equipment he’ll need in the most remote areas of East Africa. 

He plans to travel to Dadaab refugee camp on the border of Kenya and Somalia.  He says “In those types of reporting situations, I have to prepare to have no resources at hand and be completely independent.”

HIS STRENGTH: SUPPORTIVE LATINO FAMLY

Alex admits he’s nervous, and so is his family in Florida; but they’re all confident he will achieve his goal.  He says “No matter how crazy of an idea it has been. From drug lords in Mexico, to camping in tent cities in Haiti, they have stood by me 100% saying that I could achieve anything, but I’d have to try first. I bought them a bunch of African phone cards for Christmas so they can call me directly once I’m there.”

This young journalist thinks big and only has one fear in his heart. He says “I fear failure, like anyone else, but I think the key is to not let that ever stop me from going out into the world and trying”.

Good Luck Alex! Keep us posted on your travels and experiences on your blog!

Lou DobbsLou Dobbs has surfaced on the Fox Business Network.  I wonder if his divorce from CNN has humbled him or maybe given him a different  outlook on issues affecting immigrants and Latinos.

It’s been a while since he’s been on television getting all the attention.   Well, there was that controversy in October 2010; when  reporter, Isabel MacDonald with The Nation said she learned that Dobbs had hired undocumented workers to work on his horse farm in New Jersey.  He denies the accusations.

If you’ve been living under a rock; Dobbs was on CNN since the 1980’s.   I remember him as a financial guru on CNN’s Moneyline.  That’s where th guy made a name for himself.

By the tail end of his career at the Cable News Network he was very right winged and very anti-immigrant.  Most times—just plain ugly about undocumented workers.  I’m still shocked he is married to a Latina.

Much of his mean spirited rants were sensationalized inaccurate information about undocumented workers.  In May, 2007, 60 Minutes called him out on numerous inaccuracies on his Dobbs reports.   Here’s a portion of the interview:

Stahl: Well, here’s what they say about you: that you distort the figures, that you exaggerate and that you aim to inflame just to get ratings
Dobbs: Oh really?

Here’s more on the 60 Minutes Show and more fact checking by the group, Truth in Immigration:

I thought Dobbs was going to surface as a politician.  It sounded like he was headed that way when he resigned in November 2009 from CNN.   Here’s what he said on his last show.

“Over the past six months, it has become increasingly clear that strong winds of change have begun buffeting this country and affecting all of us, and some leaders in media, politics and business have been urging me to go beyond the role here at CNN and to engage in constructive problem-solving as well as to contribute positively to a better understanding of the great issues of our day and to continue to do so in the most honest and direct language possible,”

Though Dobbs has been hired to do a business show called “Lou Dobbs Tonight” at Fox; I get the feeling one way or another this guy won’t be able to stay away from talking about undocumented workers.  Remember that’s what got him ratings over at CNN.   He’ll need good ratings to keep his job at Fox.