We don’t hear much in the news about the Ukraine conflict these days. Yet two and a half years after a ceasefire deal was agreed between the government in Kiev and pro-Russian rebels, outbreaks of fighting still flare up occasionally in the east of the country.
Previously on ‘Slow Journalism’
We’re big fans of Retro Report, a Slow Journalism organisation in New York that looks at the long-term impact of largely forgotten news stories from years ago. So when we heard that Retro Report were involved in the conception of a show by Gimlet Media, the network behind superb podcasts such as StartUp and Heavyweight, we were intrigued to hear Slow Journalism produced for the radio.
Hosted by former Radiolab producer Pat Walters, Undone takes the Retro Report model and successfully applies it to narrative radio storytelling.
On the morning of 8th October 1991, Tor Schou Nilsen was tending the grave of his in-laws at the Vestre Aker churchyard in Oslo, Norway, when he heard something that sounded like a whimper. Following the sound, he found a bloody plastic bag and made a terrible discovery: inside the bag was a newborn baby boy on the brink of death.
Twenty-five years later, Norwegian journalist Bernt J Oksnes went back to the scene of the discovery to give an in-depth account of what happened in the days after the baby was found – and what has happened since.
Fake news is big news. The election of Donald Trump has thrown the large-scale dissemination of hyper-partisan stories – ranging from misleading to completely incorrect – into the limelight. President Obama talked “almost obsessively” about the BuzzFeed story that Macedonian teens were running pro-Trump fake news sites to make some extra cash. Meanwhile, one piece of analysis found that 38 percent of posts on three right-wing Facebook pages contained false or misleading information, while on three left-wing pages it was 19 percent.
Behind both of these scoops was journalist Craig Silverman, who has kept tabs on misinformation and fake news since the early 2000s. We asked him about the recent surge of nonsense spreading online – and what we can do to stop it in its tracks.
The most unusual of football tournaments took place between 28th May and 6th June in Abkhazia, a partially recognised state located between the Black Sea and the south-western flank of the Caucasus. The CONifa World Football Cup saw regions unaffiliated with global football’s governing body Fifa such as Székely Land, Kurdistan, Raetia and the Chagos Islands compete in what was a rare opportunity for players from unrecognised countries, pseudo-states and discriminated ethnic minorities.
Nollywood, Nigeria’s “do-or-die” answer to Hollywood, does not play by the rules. With no studios, intermittent access to electricity and the inevitable, irrepressible threat of bootlegging, directors shoot films on lightning quick schedules and to fantastically low budgets, working logistical challenges into the plot as they go.
“They don’t care about black people,” yells a woman with copper-tinted dreadlocks in an auditorium at Chicago’s public safety headquarters. She is amongst a group of young black protesters who have commandeered the police board’s March 2016 meeting. The board only cares, she says, about protecting the police.
This sentiment resonated particularly loudly last November when the city of Chicago reluctantly released a dash-cam video showing Laquan McDonald, a black teenager, being shot 16 times by Jason Van Dyke, a white police officer.
On the night Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto was elected to power in July 2012, Andrés Sepúlveda sat before six computer screens, waiting for the official declaration confirming the election result. When it came in, he went about systematically destroying evidence. “He drilled holes in flash drives, hard drives, and cell phones, fried their circuits in a microwave, then broke them to shards with a hammer…
“He was dismantling what he says was a secret history of one of the dirtiest Latin American campaigns in recent memory.”
In a pine-filled cemetery on the outskirts of the historic German city of Montabaur stands a wooden cross. A wreath is placed around it, along with messages of love, and a toy Santa Claus. There is no indication of who is buried there other than the name “Andy”, simply engraved on the cross.
“They told him they were going to take him out”
Tu Nguyen’s father was one of five Vietnamese-American journalists assassinated between 1981 and 1990. No one was ever charged with their murder. But now the investigation has been reopened thanks to a compelling and meticulously researched investigation by US news organisations ProPublica and Frontline, led by journalist AC Thompson.
‘Terror in Little Saigon’ chronicles the political violence which occurred in Vietnamese-American communities across the US in the 1980s. Despite countless leads and a plethora of evidence, the FBI officially closed its investigation in the late 1990s having made no arrests for the journalist murders. By poring over thousands of pages of newly declassified FBI documents, uncovering new leads and finding new witnesses, ProPublica and Frontline aim to help the victims’ families in their ongoing pursuit of justice.
On 14th November, American writer and radio producer Scott Carrier posted a message on his Facebook page:
I came to Copenhagen to speak at the CPH:DOX International Film Festival… I was supposed to return home this morning, but instead I’m going to rent a car and drive south to Greece, meeting refugees along the way, asking them: “Why did you leave home? Where do you want to go? What’s it been like along the way?”
I think we need to hear these stories.
In her New York Times article ‘They Helped Erase Ebola in Liberia. Now Liberia Is Erasing Them’, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Helene Cooper tells the harrowing tale of 30 men hired to cremate bodies in Liberia at the height of the Ebola pandemic in 2014. The burners devoted themselves to the stomach-turning task of mass cremation, playing a crucial role in ridding their country of the virus. But rather than being hailed as heroes who took on a nightmarish task for the sake of their country, the men have been shunned and some even kicked out of their homes. One year after the cremations stopped, this poignant article explores how the extreme situation soon took its toll on the burners who disposed of nearly 2,000 bodies in just four months.
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