Journalist shares reporting experience with media students

Danny Gold at Guttman Community College

To celebrate International Education Week, Guttman College had journalist Danny Gold drop by the campus on Nov. 15 to talk about his experience as a reporter covering the grip of gangs on men in South America. Hunter College journalism students were invited to attend as well to learn about reporting an international story.

Gold, whose project is called “The Only Way Out in El Salvador,” is one of the founding correspondents and producers of “Vice News” and has reported from 17 countries, including Liberia, Rwanda, and Syria. He currently is a 2018 Pulitzer Center grantee for reporting on gangs in El Salvador.

His documentary, which was published for “The Guardian,” follows men who left the gang MS-13 and turned to evangelical Christianity to change their life with the help of the church. According to Gold, El Salvador has the highest murder rate of any country because of the growth of MS-13; there are 106 murders per 100,000 people per year. Gold told students he wanted to capture the reasons why people leave and migrate to the United States from these countries, especially at a time when immigrants’ effect on the economy and crime rates are being questioned in American politics.

“We hope students will see the connections between these global issues and the local issues,” said Ann Peters, the community outreach director for the Pulitzer Center, which funds international crisis reporting. “Being a good story teller and conveying this information is important wherever folks may build their careers.”

Guttman College and the Pulitzer Center deliberately chose Gold to talk to students since they thought his project would be especially relevant. “Hearing from the students about their own personal stories made us think they might connect with this,” said Peters.

Gold spent two weeks in El Salvador interviewing gang members and spending time in the church. He was threatened by a group of men affiliated with the gang, who told him he could not film near them. But, he told students, even though it is dangerous to report this kind of story, it is the only way to understand what is going on there.

“I learned stories, backstories, how and why it’s happening, ways to combat it, and I learned about their lives.” said Gold in response to a question in the Q and A after his talk.

Gold said he bonded with a lot of the men, who, he said even tried to convert him to Christianity while he was there.

Not that long ago, Gold was a student studying to be a journalist as he earned a master’s degree with a focus on international reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in 2010. That allowed students to connect with him even more.

“It’s an honor him coming to speak to students, and I appreciate it and respect it,” said Cait Munson, a senior who came to the event for her News Video Reporting class. “It shows that no matter how big you get, you know where you come from.”

Some media students said they came for the extra credit, but left knowing more about their field.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to learn from them and hear what they went through,” said Rama Alherish.

“It’s powerful meeting a journalist,” said media major Arber Rexha. “They are people who open your mind to things.”


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