The People-Power Beat

A series on the challenges and techniques of reporting on nonviolent resistance movements — what the media tends to do wrong and what we can do right.

A false sense of objectivity: Sharif Abdel Kouddous on reporting from Tahrir Square

When the Egyptian Revolution began, Sharif Abdel Kouddous was at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, covering independent film for Democracy Now!, where he was a producer. Four days later, Kouddous was in Cairo, where much of his family lives, documenting the unpredictable twists and turns of the occupation of Tahrir Square. Day after day,…

April 18, 2012

The violence that goes unnoticed

In 2009, Mohamed Nasheed, the president of the Maldives (before being overthrown in a recent coup), held a cabinet meeting underwater. He sat at a table anchored to the ocean floor, wearing a wetsuit and oxygen tank, and signed a law meant to make the country carbon neutral within a decade. The Maldives is the lowest-lying…

April 4, 2012

On the civil rights trail with Bob Fitch

In Bob Fitch’s photo of El Fondren, the 106-year-old man who registered to vote for the first time in 1966 in Mississippi has his hand raised triumphantly in the air as the crowd hoists him up. Alongside it one also sees the hands of reporters — holding out microphones, snapping photographs, trying to capture the…

March 21, 2012

Calvin Trillin on carpetbagging for civil rights

Everyone knows that memory, and its penchant for myth-making, obscures a lot of the dirtier shades of truth. Especially when, say, a social movement has been successful. There’s so much heroism on hand that retelling those stories takes up all the time one might otherwise devote to more dead-end details. Hence the curiousness of Calvin…

July 21, 2011