By Angelina Salcedo
A crowd of more than 100 students and faculty packed Emerson College's Bill Bordy Theatre on November 14th to honor freelance journalist and Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow Jacey Fortin.
Emerson College's RTDNA chapter president Angelina Salcedo and co-treasurer Shaynah Ferreira presented a special citation and award to Fortin for her uncompromising journalistic integrity. It read as follows: "A Special Citation in honor of Ms. Fortin's dedication to the coverage of human rights, politics, economic development and media freedoms in the Horn of Africa."
Emerson Professor of Film and Africana Studies, Dr. Claire Andrade-Watkins, kicked off the presentation called "An Evening with Journalist Jacey Fortin," while Distinguished Journalist-in-Residence and former ABC News anchor, Carole Simpson, moderated the event. She is a founding member of the International Women's Media Foundation which sponsors the Neuffer Fellowship.
Fortin praised the work of the IWMF and highlighted fellow female reporters she has encountered in the Horn of Africa. She called them some of "the most dedicated" in their field.
Although she has no formal training in journalism, the New Bedford, MA native has fully embraced her role as a reporter in the ever changing industry. She highlighted the difficulties of freelancing like the pressure to provide her own equipment, insurance, and travel arrangements.
Students were anxious to hear from Fortin and ask her questions about a career they hope to pursue. She answered questions about her spontaneous photojournalism, navigating Africa as a non-native speaker of the language, African media outlets, and Western mainstream media's reluctance to cover these conflicts in depth.
"We need to somehow foster a culture of people wanting to learn," she said. "I wouldn't say it's any media organization that is to blame for us not covering these really important issues of suffering, because the organization will always follow the consumer. If the consumer wants to know about these places, the organization will cover it."
Following Fortin's presentation, students were able to speak to her about her travels, career and future plans.
Emerson College President Lee Pelton, School of Communication Dean Raul Reis, and Journalism Chair Paul Niwa were three of the many people and organizations to sponsor the event. They said they were proud to welcome Ms. Fortin on campus to address students across all majors.