Posts Tagged ‘FASPE’

The dilemmas we face: how young journalists draw ethical red lines

By Katelyn Verstraten This story began when an elderly woman with dementia wandered onto a busy highway in the middle of the night in July 2014 and was killed by a hit-and-run driver. Police found her lifeless body in the morning and notified the family. Her children and grandchildren were devastated. Officers began searching for […]


Decency and journalism

By Kristian Jebsen On display at the ramp at Birkenau are photos documenting the selection process of Jews arriving by train from Hungary. The SS doctor stands in uniform, gesturing to his right, sending an old man with a cane to his death. Perpendicular to the offloading ramp, a long dirt path separates the male […]


Freedom of the press when it’s not free: reporting under censorship, from Qatar to Canada

By Jessica Davey-Quantick I know exactly how many inches over the knee you have to photoshop a woman’s shorts to get it on the cover of a magazine in the Persian Gulf. For five years, I wrote in code. A Harley Davidson was never a “hog.” ‘Sex and the City” became a string of letters, […]


Western media and the Hong Kong protests: a lesson in balance

By Joanna Plucinska In the fall of 2014, the Occupy Hong Kong movement captured the attention of the world and the Western media. It was the largest protest to ever grip the city—the local media, let alone foreign reporters, had never seen anything like it. Many journalists had to figure out how to report the […]


Vulnerable sources can make journalists vulnerable

By Alexandra Levine In the wake of a traumatic event, journalists must quickly decide if and how to respond. When writing and reporting on trauma, journalists are tasked with handling stories as ethically and sensitively as possible — with “sensitivity” having a broad range of meanings. Some journalists may not seem sensitive at all, asking […]


Writing about the dead*

By Laura Smith Recently, I stood in the woods near Auschwitz in Oświęcim, Poland—the same woods where Jews waited to enter the gas chambers. It was a picnic-worthy spring day. The sun filtered through the pine trees. Unable to imagine the horror that had happened there, my thoughts turned instead to a picture I had […]


Sonderkommandos on the platform

By S. Parker Yesko At several points on our tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau, our guide Pawel Sawicki’s narration turned to the complicated role of the Sonderkommando unit at the camp. The Sonderkommandos were Jewish prisoners handpicked to carry out some of the grisliest tasks of the extermination process. They were the ones sent into the gas […]


One in the crowd

By Jessica Davey-Quantick I’m standing in the Topography of Terror in Berlin. In front of me is a wall of photographs, some black and white, some startling color. History isn’t supposed to be in color; it more often seems a blurry smear of black and white, a uniform, a grin-and-grip. I’m fixed on one photo, […]


Between narratives: my Polish cultural upbringing and the Holocaust

By Joanna Plucinska The FASPE fellowship is designed to train us reporters to think more ethically about our jobs. I hoped that this trip would remain for me in the purely professional realm: it was going to be about journalism, not about my Polish identity. But as we discussed Jewish identity in Poland before World […]


The trees of Auschwitz-Birkenau

By Lindsey Anderson   Pine trees smell like freedom. They are cool summer nights roasting marshmallows, slow walks, relaxing afternoons, lounging at a campground. They are family and friendship, new adventures and finding myself in the Great Outdoors. Pine trees smell like freedom, but I see no freedom here. Rusty barbed wire fences outline the […]


On the outside looking in

By Laura Smith Early on, the FASPE faculty urged us not to have expectations about our reactions to Auschwitz—and despite all their urging, we often had expectations. In some ways, my expectations were met: I expected to feel and mostly did feel incomprehension and blankness. I think this is reasonable. I don’t think anyone can […]


On bookends and parallels

By Alasdair Wilkins On FASPE’s first afternoon in Kraków—also my first day in Poland, the seventh new country I had visited in the previous three weeks—half our group gathered outside the Hotel Campanile to begin our tour of the city with FASPE European director Thorsten Wagner. In the preceding free hour, many of us had […]


Lessons from Auschwitz

By Lex Talamo I could still hear my heartbeat in my head as I descended the uneven concrete steps and left Block 11. Moments before, I had crawled into a torture cell in the bowels of the building. Inside there had been darkness, silence and barely enough room to stand. Outside in the cobbled street […]


The fields of Auschwitz-Birkenau

By Katelyn Verstraten The birds sang the whole time we were at Auschwitz-Birkenau. It may seem a strange thing to remember about the Nazi concentration and extermination camp where more than a million people were murdered, but that’s what I most recall. Bees buzzed over the ruins of gas chambers. Buttercups and daises dotted the […]


Indescribable

By Krzysztof Sadomski Before we travelled to Auschwitz, we were warned that we should not expect anything—that visiting such a horrifying place can cause different emotions in different people and therefore we should not judge others, but instead focus on our own reactions. A few days before coming to Poland, we had visited the Memorial […]


Reporter portrait: Ta-Nehisi Coates

By Alasdair Wilkins Born: 1975 Nationality: American Works predominately in the United States as a national correspondent for The Atlantic, with some overseas assignments Ta-Nehisi Coates is America’s most incisive writer on race; he may also be its foremost public intellectual. Coates’ own words make the case for both claims far better than mine could, […]


Photography, selfies and mass murder

By Katelyn Verstraten Selfie sticks waving in the air. Cellphone cameras flashing. Teenagers making peace signs. It’s an overcast May afternoon and tourists are photographing a site in Berlin. But this isn’t just any tourist destination: this is the Topography of Terror, a location that once housed the SS, SD and Gestapo headquarters, and where the […]


Pasts captured, pasts uncovered

The Topography of Terror once housed the SS, SD and Gestapo headquarters -- and is where the Nazis planned the extermination of millions. (Katelyn Verstraten/FASPE)

A single block of Zimmerstrasse — a less than five-minute walk along 1,000 feet of what was once the Berlin Wall—separates two very different reminders of Berlin’s past. On one end is the Topography of Terror and on the other is Checkpoint Charlie.


The critical few at “Track 17” and the House of the Wannsee Conference

By Laura Smith At FASPE, we often discuss how small, committed groups of people can orchestrate events—for good or ill. On Thursday, May 28, the FASPEans saw a positive example of this. While visiting the Deportation Memorial, “Track 17,” in Berlin, Thorsten Wagner, the European director of FASPE, told the fellows that lobbying for remembrance […]


Understanding “the Jesus Christ of nations”

by Krzysztof Sadomski May 29 is a day of travel for the FASPE fellows, not only in the literal, factual sense, but in a metaphorical one. It is time to leave Berlin—the capital of Nazi Germany, where the Holocaust was coordinated—and to enter Kraków, one of the most important cities in Poland, the country that […]


Fact-checking the vulnerable

By Joanna Plucinska Journalists often see their role as giving voice to the voiceless. But in reporting on vulnerable or traumatized individuals, we are at risk of further victimizing our subjects if we don’t report their stories ethically. Vulnerable populations are broadly defined. They can be, among other groups, the elderly, the young, the traumatized, […]


Art and photography at Auschwitz

By Jessica Davey-Quantick There is an image of fuzzy kittens cavorting on the wall of one of the bathrooms at Auschwitz 1. “Prisoners did it,” says Pawel Sawicki, who works in the press office at Auschwitz. He calls the kittens “semi-official art”: art that was not exactly approved, but likely did not attract punishment. In […]


Reasoning and cruelty

By Kristian Jebsen On the road between Oświęcim and Bielsko-Biala sits an unassuming house with a well-kept backyard. A golden Labrador patrols the premises, barking as people pass. It appears a normal residence, until one gets close enough to see the familiar craned, concrete necks of the old concentration camp fence, marking the edge of […]


Bearing witness through photography

By Lindsey Anderson Disclaimer: This post contains an image that may be disturbing to some viewers.  Gruesome images have existed as long as photography has, but they seem to have pervaded modern life because of social media. On Facebook or YouTube, viewers can find videos of Islamic State militants viciously killing prisoners or photographs of […]