By Liz Lebron
The Center for Career Engagement and Opportunity at New College hosted video journalist, filmmaker and author Francesca Tosarelli for a lunchtime talk entitled “Freelance Journalism, Gender and Conflict.” Tosarelli met with students who are interested in journalism to discuss her work and the projects that have taken her from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Tosarelli began her career as an independent journalist in the Congo, where she photographed women rebel fighters. She was interested in the power dynamics in the male-dominated space of armed conflict, and she found that women accrued large degrees of power in some of the militias. Some of the women she met achieved the rank of colonel.
“Nobody is ever going to assign you something crazy like this,” said Tosarelli, who encouraged students to pursue stories about which they are passionate.
Following your dreams can be costly, warned Tosarelli, who hired a driver and paid a fixer to help connect her with local rebel groups. Tosarelli emphasized the need to compromise while staying true to one’s values, if students want to make a living as journalists.
“I was saying ‘No’ to many opportunities just because they weren’t exactly what I wanted,” she explained of her early career decisions. “You need to understand the benefits of compromise.”
Most recently, Tosarelli’s work at the U.S.-Mexico border with her colleague Fabio Bucciarelli led to an investigation of U.S. Border Patrol agents who allegedly turned back migrants seeking asylum on U.S. soil. She will likely travel to Honduras to follow the migrants, if the U.S. denies their asylum claims and deports them.
The Gender Studies Program, Anthropology and Sociology AOCs, and the Division of Social Sciences provided support for both events.
— Liz Lebron is associate director of communications and marketing at New College.