Interview with Ravi Nessman and on Making Stories to Connect
By Mine Gencel Bek
Special thanks to Ravi for devoting one hour for me to conduct a semi-structured interview and also for supporting me in this really difficult task with such an accomplished and experienced journalist.
Unfortunately, there was no time to transcribe the whole interview because of time limits (interview could be conducted on Wednesday morning). Therefore, I had to summarize it by relying mostly the notes I took during the interview. Since I am not a native speaker, the notes are limited as well. I felt like concentrating on listening and interacting him rather than taking notes.
When I typed his name on the web, 12.600 results appeared. Tough task! I liked preparing and asking questions more than searching the web. I should think more about the meaning of this. Is it because I do not like browsing internet too long, or I like interviewing and face to face communication more?
Ravi Nessman is graduated from Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He started to work at AP as soon as he graduated in 1994. He is from New Jersey. He worked as the South Asia bureau chief for the Associated Press between 2009 and 2013. Currently, he is 2014 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University
He won an award from the South Asian Journalists Association for his coverage of the Sri Lankan civil war. He also was part of an AP team that won a Sigma Delta Chi Award for its coverage of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. He has recently been assigned to be the the deputy of AP’s South region encompasses news in 13 states in the US. He will start his new job in Atlanta as soon as he finishes the sabbatical at Nieman. His job involves all including editing, management, writing, taking photos.
He worked in Chicago, Newark, Philadelphia, New York, Jerusalem, Sri Lanka, New Delhi, South Africa, He lived in 10 cities in 20 years. His wife and children also accompany him around the world eagerly. His wife is a human rights lawyer. As a reply to my question ‘What did he learn about living and seeing so many cities in the world as a journalist?’, he said that he learned life time worth of lessons and added: ‘We all share a common humanity. It does not matter if you live in a tiny village or a city, we can relate to each other’.
I asked to what extent he uses twitter as news source. He said that he uses a lot but added that who tweets is important. Therefore, he talked about the importance of credibility and verification by giving the examples from Israel (The military commander tweeted in 2011 that the military attack was over). The question of how you know is important, for him. For example, there were unreliable tweets in Mumbai about a terrorist bombing (I can add more from records).
I asked about the difficulties of news agencies in this age and the new forms of journalism in digital age. He stated that since 1999 and 2000, AP does not limit itself with inverted pyramid fact journalism, 5 What and 1 Who. Instead, they create more feature stories, investigative reporting and deep and engaging stories. He gives an example of Indian suicide reports (I can add more from records).
How does he cope with all these situations, being a close witness of the horrible events, war, conflict, poverty in the world? What are his mechanisms to survive psychologically? He said that he had choosen to see and show them. He tries to move after that. I got an impression that his family is also a big source of support for him reports (I can add more from records).
I asked how he will study “the responsibility of governments and communities to help the most vulnerable members of society the responsibility of governments and communities to help the most vulnerable members of society.” as mentions on the Nieman’s web. What is the solution. according to you? He stated that to show people what they are not seeing, not necessarily in different countries but even in the same place they live in. This should be in new forms, though. He gave the example of hunger in Africa by underlining the importance of not showing extreme but instead make a story that everyone can connect (I can add more from records).
So, for me Ravi is a journalist who commits himself to create stories which people can relate. That is an admiring task.
To what extent and when (if any) there is an optimism and hope in yourwork/profession? How do you cope with all these situations, being a close witness of the horrible events, war, conflict, poverty in the world? What are the mechanisms to survive psychologically?
Which issues would you like to cover?
What is your focus in Nieman now?
How will you study “the responsibility of governments and communities to help the most vulnerable members of society the responsibility of governments and communities to help the most vulnerable members of society.” as you mention on the Nieman’s web? What is the solution. According to you?
Are you happy to work at AP? Where else would he like to work?
Comparison of American journalism and South East Asian (is there such a homogeneus thing) journalism?
We used to give the evidence of leading news agencies controlling the news flow in the world and creating a knowledge monopoly. What do you think of that? Is it still the case?
Difficulties of news agencies in this age? How do they reply?
What is the future of journalism?
What are the new forms of journalism in digital age?
Can journalists in the world create any kind of solidarity network?
Journalism education and the future?