LONDON, ON, Sept. 17, 2012 /CNW/ - Four talented young journalists
working in dangerous situations around the world will get financial
help with safety training after winning bursaries from the Forum
The Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma today named bursary
winners based in Afghanistan, Beijing, Bogotá and Tunis. Three are
Canadians. All work freelance for Canadian and other media
organizations. Bursaries of up to $2,500 will help each of them
undergo hazardous environment training over the coming months in the UK
One of the winners, Miguel Toran, recently spent three weeks filming
inside Syria. Another, Matthieu Aikins, hitchhiked into Afghanistan
from Uzbekistan four years ago and has been working out of Kabul ever
since, mostly without being embedded.
Lindsay Mackenzie reported from Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia on the Arab
Spring, while Jean-Pierre Bastien is based in Colombia, and covers
stories in territory that's being fought over by soldiers, guerrillas,
and armed gangs.
"These are all fine and dedicated young people, taking very significant
personal risks to bring us the news from some of the most dangerous
places on earth," said Forum president Cliff Lonsdale. "Because they
are freelance, they don't get the same level of training and protection
that most staff correspondents and photographers now do."
This is the second year the Forum Freelance Fund has run a bursary
competition to help change that, with the number of awards doubled from
This year's winners have worked for many major Canadian news
organizations, including The Globe and Mail, The National Post, La
Presse, CBC and Radio-Canada. Their work has also appeared
internationally in an impressive array of foreign print, broadcast and
"It's still a small beginning to deal with a major problem," Lonsdale
said. "We need more media companies and others to get behind the Forum
Freelance Fund as sponsors or supporters. In an ideal world, every
freelancer going into danger would be able to get this kind of
training. But we know the industry climate is far from ideal right now.
That's why collective action like this is needed. We need to share the
load, just not let it fall on those least able to carry it."
The Forum Freelance Fund is currently sponsored by CBC News, and
supported by Radio-Canada, CNW, Macintosh Media and a number of
individuals. Sponsors agree to contribute at least $2,500 a year for
three years, while supporters give what they can year-to-year.
This year the bursary competition was held in co-operation with the
UK-based Rory Peck Trust. Some of the winners will receive additional funds from that source.
More about the 2012 Forum Freelance Fund bursary winners:
Matthieu Aikins, from Halifax, kick-started his freelance career by hitchhiking into
Afghanistan from Uzbekistan in 2008, and working there unembedded. He
is currently based in Kabul.
Matthieu has worked for The Globe and Mail, The National Post, The
Walrus, The Guardian, Harper's, Atlantic, Newsweek, GQ, Foreign Policy
and others in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya. He has won two national
awards from the Canadian Association of Journalists.
In his bursary application, Matthieu wrote: "I've managed to keep
myself, and the locals who've worked with me, safe… but with all the
journalists who've been killed or injured in 2011, I've decided that
it's time that I get some formal training."
Jean-Pierre Bastien, from Montreal, freelances from Bogotá, Colombia, where he is also
studying for a Master's degree in Latin American Studies.
Covering stories about displaced Colombians requires visiting areas of
conflict between government and guerilla forces. Writing stories about
Canadian mining interests requires him to travel in areas that are
disputed between the Colombian government, guerillas and armed gangs.
Jean-Pierre has also worked in Brazil and Bolivia. Among his clients are
Radio-Canada and La Presse.
Lindsay Mackenzie is based in Tunisia, but she works as a freelance photographer, print
and multi-media journalist across North Africa and the Middle East.
Much of her work concerns the Arab Spring and its consequences. She has
made radio documentaries for CBC from Yemen, and worked in Tunisia and
Egypt for The Globe and Mail, Associated Press, The Wall Street
Journal, The Financial Times and the BBC, among others.
She writes: "Covering the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen has
been an extraordinary experience, but there have been times when I've
felt that I've been pushing my luck… in crowds of protestors in Cairo,
running from riot police in Tunisia, and working in Yemen while two
sides of the army were in conflict with each other and the kidnapping
risk is real."
Originally from Whistler, BC, Lindsay says she's driven to cover crisis
situations. She wants to expand her work to regions and issues that she
thinks are underrepresented in the media, particularly in West Africa.
She plans a working visit to Mali later this year - after first
attending the Columbia Journalism School's course "Reporting Safely in Crisis Zones" with help from her Forum Freelance Fund bursary.
Miguel Toran is a Spanish freelance news cameraman who has been living in Asia for seven years and
is currently based in Beijing. He has done extensive work for CBC and
Al Jazeera English, as well as CNN International, Associated Press
Television News, TVE and Britain's ITN.
Recently he spent three weeks inside Syria with Al Jazeera, covering the
fighting around Aleppo. He found he remembered very little about the
hostile environment training he had taken in Europe 8 years earlier.
"We freelancers are more at risk in dangerous areas, and Syria is an
example. Most of the journalists being killed, injured or kidnapped
there are freelancers," he says.
After updating his safety skills with the help of his Forum Freelance
Fund bursary, Miguel intends to go back to Syria in the next few
months. He adds: "I would like to return there better prepared."
Image with caption: "Matthieu Akins (CNW Group/Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120917_C6997_PHOTO_EN_17933.jpg
Image with caption: "Jean-Pierre Bastien (CNW Group/Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120917_C6997_PHOTO_EN_17935.jpg
Image with caption: "Lindsay Mackenzie (CNW Group/Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120917_C6997_PHOTO_EN_17937.jpg
Image with caption: "Miguel Toran (CNW Group/Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120917_C6997_PHOTO_EN_17939.jpg
SOURCE: Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma
For further information:
For further details on the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma or the Forum Freelance Fund, please see our website at http://journalismforum.fims.uwo.ca or contact Jane Hawkes, Executive Producer: 519-473-6434 / firstname.lastname@example.org