KALAMAZOO—Two international journalists will speak at Western Michigan University at the invitation of two award-winning film students whose video was broadcast on CNN last year as part of World Press Freedom Day.
Film students Cassandra Stagner and Wil Granaderos were in New York last year as part of activities showcasing their original video public service announcement, which won a national collegiate film contest sponsored by CNN. While in New York, they were introduced to international journalists Nada Alwadi from Bahrain and Delphine Hagland from France.
Alwadi and Hagland will speak at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, in 1920 Sangren Hall as part of an event being called "Muted Voices" and will address issues involving freedom of the press. Alwadi will focus on "The War of Words: The Case of Bahrain—A View from Inside," while Hagland's remarks will center on the question "Is the Internet a Vector of Freedom or an Instrument of Repression: Lessons from the Arab Spring, China, Mexico and the USA." Their presentations are free and open to the public and sponsored by the WMU School of Communication.
Alwadi is based in Washington, D.C., where she is a press activist. She has worked as a reporter for Alwasat, Bahrain's most-popular newspaper, covered the pro-democracy protest against the Al Khalifi monarchy and was detained and threatened for several days for reporting pro-democracy movements across Bahrain. She also works as a freelance journalist, researcher and writer for numerous media outlets and is the founder of the Bahrain Press Freedom Association. She earned a bachelor's degree from Kuwait University and a master's in mass communications from the University Sains, Malaysia.
In her presentation, Alwadi will address how Bahrain's ongoing political crisis has profoundly transformed the country's media landscape. She asserts that, perhaps more than any of the other Arab uprisings, the struggle over the coverage of events is at the conflict's core.
Hagland works as director of the Washington, D.C., office of Reporters Without Borders. She runs U.S. activities for the organization and is a strong fighter for media rights around the world. Hagland is a regular spokeswoman across the United States, calling attention to worldwide press injustice issues. She has appeared on the Public Broadcasting Service, in The Wall Street Journal, on Al Jazeera and at universities across the nation, including Harvard University and UCLA.
In her talk, Hagland will take a closer look at how the fight for online freedom of expression is more essential than ever. She will discuss how the Arab Spring has clearly shown, by creating new spaces for exchanging ideas, that the Internet is a vehicle for freedom, providing the only independent news and information in countries where the traditional media are controlled by the government.
"We're very excited for this event," Granaderos says. "It will be a great opportunity for everyone at Western Michigan University and the greater Kalamazoo area to learn about the issue of press freedom from two very respected journalists."