Amberley – Haiti – Masterpost

Pitch Story – Haiti

Hello Emily,

I am a student in your international reporting class and I want to cover a story on the education in Haiti and how it is sadly dwindling. Most of the news that comes out of Haiti is about the tragedy that hits the country year after year, but rarely does the news really focus on how it is hitting the people of the country. This is especially true for the youngest population of the country.

When most people envision the state of Haiti, the are brought back to that image of people living in tents and eating mudcakes, because after the 2010 earthquake, they had no means of survival. What many don’t know is that this is still the situation in Haiti, so when more calamities strike, the situation becomes drastically worse. And for the children growing up in such a state of disrepair, school is the only thing they look forward to. Unfortunately, there are barely any schools in Haiti for these children, much less schools that can properly hold all the students that they want to. Classes can be packed with more than 50 children of all ages, basic necessities like a bathroom and plumbing is rare, and teachers cannot be paid; essentially doing volunteer work.

According to sionfondsforhaiti, Haiti as a whole has only 15, 200 primary schools, of which 90% are non-public and managed by communities, religious organizations, or NGOs. The enrollment rate for primary school is 67%, and fewer than 30% reach 6th grade. Secondary schools enroll 20% of eligible-age children. The January earthquake was a major setback for education reform in Haiti. Literacy levels continue to hover around 50 percent. Haiti is one of the lowest-ranked countries in the world, 177th out of 186, for national spending on education.

I spoke to Pastor Mario Agustave, the founder of the Voices For Haiti Project who has started many projects within the country along with education reform like medical assistance, housing development, and evangelistic outreach. There he is helping the people of his country who need it the most. He spoke to me about his most recent trip to Haiti last summer and the state the country is in. He especially focused on a school that the Voices For Haiti Project had help build and fund along with the government. It is an elementary school that holds over 50 children in one building the size of a regular classroom. “It is a place where the children can forget about the struggles at home with their family, and have fun learning math, singing songs, playing in the field, and being able to have a meal everyday,”Agustave says. But of course, although the children are happy it is not the most ideal situation. There is no access to water, more classrooms are need and teachers need to be paid.

This is not just a problem for the school the Voices For Haiti Project has built up, but a problem for most schools in the country. Without education, the country’s future is still bleak, and more need to know just how much Haiti needs help, not just with clothes and food, but with education as well.

Beat Memo – Haiti

The history of Haiti is a long one, that starts with the original Native Americans that lived there. The island, which currently is Haiti and the Dominican Republic, was inhabited by the Taino or Arawak people before Christopher Columbus stumbled upon the island, and called the island Ayti. After struggling through slavery, fighting for independence from France, becoming their own country, and going through corrupt government after corrupt government, Haiti is now in a state of disrepair as the poorest nation in the Caribbean, where they need help from the outside.

Languages: French and Haitian Creole

Religion: Catholicism, Catholic Voodoo, and Protestantism

News Outlets: Le Nouvelliste , Haiti United Press, Haïti Progrès , Haiti Liberté

Some current events that are in Haiti are their recovery after the 2010 earthquake, the 2011 cholera outbreak, and the Hurricane that hit Haiti last year. It is as if they don’t receive a break in natural disasters.

The immigrant community in New York is a thriving one, with many of them owning their own businesses in areas like Flatbush. Because this neighborhood is so densely packed with Haitians, the language spoken in the street is more commonly Haitian Creole than it is English.


Voice Of America

Voice of America is a government run news organization that does radio, television, and internet outside of America in English and in other foreign languages. It was founded 75 years ago, on February 1, 1942, during World War 2. Much later, under the Ford administration, it received its own charter and is allocated funds every year by congress.

VOA has gone through three controversies over the years, one being an interview with Taliban leader Mullah Omar Mohammad, which angered some, stating that it was giving terrorists the right to express their views. Either way, the report received the Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism.

In February 2013, a documentary released by China Central Television interviewed a Tibetan self-immolator who failed to kill himself. The man said  Voice of America’s broadcasts of commemorations of people who committed suicide in political self-immolation encouraged him, but VOA denied the allegations.



The country I would love to cover is Haiti as I already have connections to this community. Being half-Haitian, I am quickly aware of the many of the stories that are happening in Haiti and the struggles that not only the people in the country are facing, but also the struggles the immigrant population in New York is facing.

Some good and possible stories that I can focus on is the natural disasters that have hit Haiti almost every year; how they are affected, and how they are trying to build themselves back up. Another story that I can focus on is the Clinton Foundation and the scandal that was brought up in regards to the money that was raised towards Haiti relief. I know that many Haitians did not vote this last election because they felt betrayed by the Clintons. Thirdly, a good story to talk about is the new government that is in place in Haiti now, after the election, and what Haitian New Yorkers think about the Haitian president now.


Class Agenda – Monday Feb. 27


Potential risks of international reporting


Press freedom around the world

The top watchdog groups for a global free press are The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

Mission statement:

The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide. We defend the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal.

What are some of the ways that the press can be silenced?

Anyone care to guess where the US ranks in terms of press freedom around the world?

RSF rankings

Recent concerning developments regarding press freedom in the US

Ed Ou prohibited entry to cover Standing Rock

WSJ reporter Maria Abi-Habib detained on return from Beirut

In 2016, there were 259 journalists jailed worldwide

In all of 2016, there were 48 journalists killed worldwide in cases where it’s confirmed that they were targeted for their work

So far in 2017 there have been two journalists killed (where motive is confirmed)


According to RSF, nearly half of the world’s population has no access to freely-reported news and information.

So how do you navigate this as a journalist? How do you get the story AND protect yourself—not to mention your sources—at the same time?



Get accredited if it is advisable/feasible to do so

Things to consider:



Whether or not you’re trying to keep a low profile

Potential consequences for not being accredited (without it, if arrested, some governments may take the opportunity to accuse you of espionage, for instance, or of being a combatant)


Protect your data and your sources

Make sure your phones, laptops, tablets, etc. are encrypted

Communicate with applications like Whatsapp and Telegram if you’re discussing anything sensitive

Be careful what you share on social media

Travel “naked” if you have a lot of sensitive sources on your phone. No matter how good your encryption, if a foreign government is determined to seize your phone, they’re probably going to do it.

Remember that it’s NOT JUST YOU you’re protecting here. Especially if you’re American, your local sources and fixers will often be far more at risk than you will.


Be prepared

Take a hostile environment and/or first aid training if you have the opportunity to do so

Have the right gear. If body armor is recommended where you’re going, make sure you don’t skimp. It can be difficult to bring this stuff across borders so often there are local journalist organizations where you can find gear to borrow or rent.

Have an action plan, as set out in ACOS Alliance

Work with a trusted fixer

Stay at a safe hotel

Dress appropriately

Do your research

Use your network, talk to people who’ve already been there to get some advance street smarts

Don’t be a hero


Other common-sense safety precautions

For those of us who aren’t doing front line reporting or working in countries with repressive regimes, there are still some important safety items to consider.

How close will you be to good medical care?

What vaccinations or other precautions are recommended or legally required for the place where you’ll be reporting?

What are the roads like where you’re going?

What is the weather going to be like?

How remote is the assignment?

Do you have insurance? (Evac, equipment, etc.)

Pitch: Filipinos concern at home – Junior Martinez

Filipinos concern at home.

As Americans are dealing with a president, that is out of touch with its people. Filipinos in the U.S are also dealing with their president at their homeland; Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has begun the war on drug, and he promised to wipe out all the people involved in drug trafficking. According to USAtoday, The total body count of suspected drug dealers or users tops 6,000. More than 2,000 were killed in police operations, and the other 4,000 died in vigilante or extrajudicial killings.”, Human rights activists have called Duterte actions inhumane.

Back in the U.S, Filipinos are allowed to vote during Philippines elections. Which makes me wonder how many Filipinos in the U.S agree with Rodrigo Duterte plans? What do Filipinos American thank about the war of Drugs in the Philippine?

So far I have contacted with one of the representative of Filipinos of New York and currently trying to get in touch with GABRIELA-USA and BAYAN-USA group. Also I will be doing man on the street interviews in Woodside, Queens, that holds more than 13,000 Filipinos residents.



China/U.S. Business Pitch

During the presidential election, Donald Trump made disparaging comments concerning China, blaming the country for the global warming “hoax” and for pitfalls in American business.
Being #2 in the global economy, China is considered one of our most important economical allies but also one of our biggest competitors. I am interested to find out the effect of Trump’s statements on Chinese immigrants. I also want to delve into the validity of Trump’s opinions in regards to China in regard to business affairs. How true are these statements? What is the current U.S./China situation?
Recently, China banned coal imports from North Korea, which some consider to be a bold move considering their more lenient approach to north Korea in the past. China has not been a force in creating sanctions on North Korea’s nuclear program, namely their missile testing. In the first debate, Trump said that China needs to handle North Korea since they are the more powerful country and “solve that problem for us.”
I have already emailed the national Committee on U.S. China Relations and requested to sit in on one of their upcoming conversations. They have multiple talks focusing on different issues within China that span from Hollywood’s commercial toes to China and its affect on the production of major films to more serious subjects such as China’s developmental paths and what it will mean for the rest of the world. I haven’t received an answer yet, but there is a phone number available on the website so I will reach out to see what I need to do in order to get in and talk to a few people. I’m sure I can find good sources if I go to one of their talks.

South Korean Pitch

South Korea is known as one of the countries with the greatest educations in the world: In the 2015 Programme for International Student Assesment South Korean students scored more than average in Science, Mathmematics, and Reading. All over the world the South Korean education system is praised, however, not many more that this is also the country with one of the highest suicide rates in the world. According to WHO 41.7 people out of 100,000 committed suicide in South Korea in 2015, making it the highest rate within developed countries (the USA had 19.4 for every 100,000) coming from 28.7 in 2013 according to  OECD, and is one of the highests in the world. In 2015 suicide among people from the age of 10-30 was the number one reason of death.

I found this to be shocking, but also found it to be a sign that grinding students to get good test scores doesn’t always turn out as expected. In Korea the average student goes to school from 8am to 4 pm, and later has to go to an afterschool academy known as a hagwon (학원) to fortify their studies. By the time they get home it is 9pm and they have to go to sleep in order to repeat the process.

Should the States follow the same steps as its ally and implement cram schools? Lately schools like Kumon have been showing up and American students are joining the cram school culture, should this be the norm or should cram school be banned?

There was been a connection made between the preassure that students receive to succeed and the high sucide rates, but I would like to explore how immigrant parents experienced their school lives versus how their children are experiencing their school life,and how they value  academic success, and would like to speak to international students in American universities about their experiences in Korean high schools and their transactions to the American education system and find somoene how has had a close one commit or attempt suicide. I have contacted one of my sources who was educated in Korea, but later moved on to a British university who I can most likely interview about the different systems.


Italian Food Customs (Pitch)

When planning a trip to Italy, or any destination outside of the comfort of your own home, one thing that you should always consider even before picking the most cost effective airline and hotel, or the best spots to visit, is the various types of food that your destination is best known for. Embedded, however, in the fine food is the customs you should become aware of, particularly before arriving in the country.

When I traveled to Italy in December 2016, I found that it’s not just which utensil to use for the right dish, it’s also how you eat that matters. In many cultures, manners DO matter.

In Italy, you are supposed to drink your coffee after your entire meal, not before. Unless otherwise noted, you are not to tip your waiter as they are paid based on the service fee already included in your bill. Water is provided by the bottle and not the glass, which you can choose either sparkling or distilled. Bread is a desert and should be enjoyed as such. It shouldn’t be dipped in olive oil like we are accustomed in the United States. You should also be aware that it is custom for the customer to inform their waiter that they are done with their meal as waiters aren’t expected to take dishes off your table, or provide you with your bill until you indicate to them that you are ready for either something more or to complete your time at the restaurant.

Had I not known some of the above customs, I, as an American, would probably get dirty looks from those surrounding me, particularly the expected “that American” when American customs and culture intrude on the customs of the destination outside the U.S.

Website such as Walks of Italy, Reveal Drome and Never Ending Voyage provide good insight on the do’s and don’ts of eating in Italy, but there few resources available that provide a journalistic viewpoint on what to do and what not to do when visiting the foreign destination. I’m looking to provide a mix of firsthand perspective and interviews with Italian Americans, and Italians living in the country, alongside those who have visited the country themselves and have had both good and bad experiences to determine if there is truly a culture clash or just particular destinations within Italy that creates the stigma of eating culture.

— Errol L.


Ukraine Pitch #1

This Friday the 24th, the Ukrainian Institute of America in collaboration with the Ukrainian Studies Program at Columbia University will be hosting an International Conference titled “Ukrainian Statehood 1917-21: Institutions and Individuals.” The conference commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the Ukrainian Revolution and the creation of the modern Ukrainian state. Now more than ever, it is a relevant time to recognize Ukraine’s successes and the current status of its freedom. It is inevitable that Trump’s relationship with Russia and whether he will be an ally to Ukraine will be discussed. Following the two-hour panel is a reception in which I hope to speak to the panelists or attendees. I hope to interview people on how they feel the “modern Ukrainian state” has changed over the years and how they picture it in the future. Realistically, do they see Trump and Russia dismanteling the Ukrainian state or do they still see hope for independence? I will also formulate my questions based on the panel discussion. My hope is to create a radio podcast, with clips from the panel itself, sound of crowds chatting, hopefully some in Ukrainian, and one on one interviews.

Puerto Rico Debt Crisis Pitch

Hello Emily,

I am currently a student in your International Reporting class. I have this great story I’d like to share with you in hopes it will reach a greater audience. The ongoing Puerto Rican debt crisis is a situation I feel hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves lately. Puerto Rico has long been a common wealth of the United States and it would goes without saying that the more than $70 billion in debt will have negative ramifications on many.

Simply put, the Government of Puerto Rico cannot pay what it owes and its economy is suffering. The once calming image of tropical beaches and clear water has now be soiled by the fact that many business can’t afford to keep their doors open.

So how does this impact the United States?

  1. One concern is the U.S. financial system. Many Americans have investments through Puerto Rico’s municipal bonds. Municipal bonds makes up a large portion of Puerto Rico’s debt.Which means many Americans have a significant portion of their savings in government debt that might not be repaid.
  2. Puerto Ricans are leaving the island in record numbers for the United States. Unemployment and quality of life are cited as some of the major factors in their decision to leave. In 2014 alone, 84,000 people left the commonwealth in hopes for better opportunities.

My story will go into the details and cover the important questions. How did it get to this point? What are the proposed solutions? What does the Trump administration plan to do? I will also contact and conduct interviews with the many puerto ricans who have left the island for their reactions. This will include getting in touch with financial analyst and bloggers/journalist for their first hand take on the crisis.

Thank you for your time and consideration for this proposal.


Peter Rodriguez

American Citizens in the IDF Pitch

Although the United States has abolished their Draft for the military, it is common in other countries throughout the world to have Draft enlistments for their citizens when they reach a certain age, or it becomes necessary to draft to do rising tensions and beginnings of wars. The State of Israel, is no exception to this draft. Due to constant ever growing tensions in the Middle East, Israel has a constant draft law, which states that once citizens reach the age of 18, they are required to serve in the military for a minimum of twelve months, and varies depending on age and gender, according to Nefesh B’Nefesh, an online draft service based in Jerusalem.

Running in a few circles, people tend to carry a bit of animosity about the fact that these young adults are drafted to serve and fight in the military, and feel as though they are being forced to risk their lives for a cause that they might not want to fight for. However what may come as a shock, is that a large percentage of IDF drafted soldiers are not born Israeli citizens.

In an interview with the Israeli Defense Force spokeswoman Lieutenant Libby Weiss in 2014, Israel has one of the largest number of Americans serving in its military. In the interview she also stated that the IDF had roughly 1,000 Americans who had never lived in Israel who ended up serving.

I feel as though an angle that hasn’t been focused on yet, is in the lens of the American-Israeli who decided to go serve in a country they never lived in, and where this nationalism comes from.

Hadas Bar-Ad is currently serving in the IDF, she enlisted in September. Despite the tough hours and intense training she has every day, she “works harder every day proudly fighting for a country that is always fighting for freedom.”

Among Hadas, I am also going to be interviewing a two friends of mine since childhood, who both were born American citizens and still chose to enlist in the Israeli Defense Forces, Sherrie Feldman and Yahav Sinay. Sherrie is currently working as an officer making sure there is everyday safety in the towns and cities in Israel, while Yahav has been out of the IDF for a few years now, and is now living in Brooklyn, NY.

What is going to come out of these articles is definitely going to be incredibly interesting and rich interviews, all full with very complex conversations from young adults who feel so strongly about their love for Israel. I think it will give a very interesting angle in the controversy that is always hovering around the IDF.


Afghan-American story pitch

To leave the country from which you were born, to completely uproot your life and leave what you are familiar with is no easy feat. With this story I hope to dive into the motivations, expectations, and realities that come with immigrating from Afghanistan to America. Through interviews and research I will paint a picture of the journey and perspective of an Afghan-American in New York City. This includes preconceived notions of the country, first impressions, discrepancies in international perceptions, as well as each interviewees “two cents” on the state of America now.

I began my research interviewing a well educated man named Shah Haya who, at the age of 25, moved from Kabul, Afghanistan to New York City. It was 1971 When Haya came to America, and initially, he had not planned on staying. He remembers the Afghanistan he left by saying “It was very peaceful, and security was very good. Everything was in progress.” However, during his time in America, Haya began to hear stories of turmoil back home, of political turbulence and violence. “They killed the president.”  he told me, referring to communist parties of the time. “They killed the whole family. Everybody. His brother, his family, all dead.” It was this horrid scene that pushed Haya to stay in America. “I was here, I was watching, and I said I don’t want to go back, it was disgusting.”  This was 1978. I will make a point to ask if this specific moment in history prompted immigration to America for other Afghan-Americans here in NYC.

When I began to question Shah Haya on why he chose America, he told me that his decision had come down to two countries; Russia and America. “I had no experience of America.” Haya told me, but what he knew of Russia prompted his decision. “One of my friends was in Russia for studies,” Haya explained, “he said when you go over there it is not a free country. They teach you to become a member of the (communist) party.” That was all it took for Haya to decide on America. It is clear his life growing up in Afghanistan has prompted him to recognize and demand equality, respect, and peace.

It was what he discovered next that shaped his view of America. Haya told me, “When I came to this country, I didn’t feel like I am a foreigner. When I come to New York, I was thinking that I fit with Americans.” I found this to be an amazing quote and plan of finding out if others had a similar first impression.

Haya justifies his favoring of America with the assertion that “the political system of the US is the best in the World.” The stability and steadfast nature of the American government are major components in how Haya has come to see the country as a whole, and why he has come to like it. As far as Haya is concerned, the country will not have a problem unless it falls to dictatorship, “the system is a good one, it is what keeps the country stable.”

Of course, there are discrepancies in America today compared to what Shah Haya had imagined when he first decided to live here.”Number one,” Haya begins, “education should be free for everybody. Number two is health care has to be, if not free, very very cheap.” These are the issues that he has with the country today. He began to tell me that he is disappointed to see the pressure put on Americans to rack up debt (mostly college debt) only to spend their lives working “not for themselves, but for a big company.” Haya feels that this country, that was full of opportunities for citizens and immigrants just 30 years ago, should have figured this out by now.
However, it doesn’t taint his view much. “It is going to change.” he tell me, “It is just a little too early for these changes. People will get smarter, intelligent, the new generation wants to change this.” I was especially intrigued by Hayas perception of and hopes for America because they are somewhat contrasting (and refreshing!) to the dismal view and predictions many Americans are currently holding.

Mr. Haya served as an excellent beginning to my research for this story and has only encouraged me to go further into my research development. Tomorrow I will be having a conversation with Naheed Samadi Bahram, the NY community program director of Women for Afghan Women.