Photojournalist Daniella Zalcman on Herself and Her Work

Daniella Zacman 1

Daniella Zalcman speaks to Janna Anderson’s reporting class on her book, “Signs of Your Identity.”

Daniella Zalcman

Daniella Zalcman speaks to Janna Anderson’s reporting class on her book, “Signs of Your Identity.”

Photojournalist Daniella Zalcman, who hosted a lecture earlier today, Wednesday, November 1, in the School of Communications at Elon University, spoke about herself to Janna Anderson’s Reporting for the Public Good. In this more intimate setting, journalism students were able to ask Daniella questions on how she got started, how she chooses her topics and how best to work with sources who are narrating past traumas.

Daniella is an award-winning photojournalist based in London and New York. She reports chiefly on human rights issues around the globe, especially focusing on underrepresented populations in remote locations, women, at-risk LGBT asylum seekers, and on the legacies of western colonization. While talking about her work, Daniella said:


“Sparking outrage is my main goal.”

Even though Daniella wanted to be a journalist since she was 12, she began her passion for long-term assignments on humans rights issues in 2012, much later in her career. She believes it is important to tell such stories because the institutions that are responsible for storytelling, like journalism, are not always good at representing everyone equally and telling our histories and the histories of oppressed peoples accurately and holistically.

The long-term assignments that Daniella has taken in the past have focused on thing such as the LGBT community in former British colonies, specifically, Uganda. Presently, she is continuing her work narrating the experiences of survivors of Indian residential schools in Canada and the United States.

The things that Daniella exposes have a sense of urgency to her, and for her are eminent to share. She told the class that things like the Indian residential school systems that wreaked havoc in indigenous communities in Canada. Things like the kidnapping and subsequent forcible assimilation, rampant emotional, physical and sexual abuse that thousands of indigenous children went through. Things that occurred until the late 1900’s, are not included in the narratives that we share about North American history.

She sees this lack of narrative primarily within the middle to high-school educational institutions in the U.S. Part of her grant with the Pulitzer Center, Daniella talks about her work and the experiences to middle and high-school students. She explained to Janna’s class this morning how horrified the kids were that we never talk about this and that so much of our focus in indigenous history is only about things that happened millions of years ago.

Signs of Your Identity

A photo from Daniella’s 2016 book. Source: Daniella Zalcman,

Her current project, “Signs of Your Identity,” which is supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and in which Daniella explores the legacy of the Canadian Indian residential school system, helps her expose unexplored narratives. In this project, she puts together multiple exposure portraits to depict survivors still fighting to overcome their haunting residential school experiences. She published these portraits alongside the survivor’s direct interview excerpts in a book last year. Called “Signs of Your Identity,” it won the 2016 FotoEvidence Book Award. An annual award presented to photographers whose work demonstrates courage and commitment in documenting social injustice.

Daniella firmly asserts that the United States as a country cannot move on until its citizens acknowledge that the country is built on stolen land.

In regards to how to properly treat sources who have gone through arduous trauma and on how to properly report on them, Daniella urged the class to remember that protecting their sources is always the most important thing. She does so by being completely honest and transparent to her sources about her process and the impact that her work will have. Additionally, she told the class that she always makes sure to include the backstory and history of her photos to the audience. In doing so, she creates a fuller narrative that does justice to both her readers and her sources.

To see more of her work, to go:

Be Alexander Hamilton, Be Young, Scrappy and Hungry.

By Ana Gabriela García


From left to right: Kent White, Jack Mackenzie and Michael Clemente

Earlier today at 12 o’clock, the students of Janna Anderson, professor of communications at Elon University, transformed their classroom into a makeshift conference room and vigorously typed down the anecdotes, advice, and insights of seasoned professional Michael Clemente, Ken White and Jack Mackenzie.

Micheal Clemente is a former vice president of FOX News Network, and a news network executive at ABC and FOX. After seven years in Fox, Clemente decided to start his own company, Point West Media, a consultant company that designs strategies for TV, online and digital companies.

Ken White, a former news director at Fox Charlotte and WOWK-TV in Charleston, West Virginia, is currently a television news consultant. From 2003 to 20007, White served as president of the Radio Television News Director Association of the Carolinas. He has also been awarded various Emmys and Associated Press Awards.

Jack Mackenzie is the executive vice president of Penn Schoen Berland (PSB). PSB is a global research-based consultancy, which focuses on creating messaging and communications strategy for corporate, political and entertainment clients.

“I will say this, I’m a cheerleader for what you’re thinking of going into. When you do this kind of thing you’ll learning all the time.”

– Michael Clemente

When speaking generally about journalism and reporting, Clemente told students that the most important thing is thinking clearly and being accurate. It is good to be drawn to a good story, he says, but always tell yourself: “That’s a good story if it’s true.”

Meanwhile, White decided to quote an analogy of one of his colleagues and friends, Tom Brokaw, who said, “If you’re a journalist of any type, you are basically. A first-class passenger who really deserves to be in coach.” Although White says it is amazing to meet famous people and go to important national and international events, he advised students to always keep in mind the responsibilities and duties of a journalist, which is chiefly to report back to their audience.

Jack Mackenzie took this opportunity to explain to students the influence of local television and how this reflects political, social and cultural trends in America. He was eager to remind students that the ten o’clock news is the most watched television program in America. He goes into more detail in the video below:

On the topic of actually writing articles and producing broadcast media, White argued that ‘Context is Key’ has beat out the rule “content is key,” that for so many years had been the guiding principle of journalism everywhere. There is an abundance of media always feeding large audiences information 24-7. right now it is more important to put events and disasters, especially those that affect domestic and foreign affairs and security.

It as important to inform one’s audience as it is to educate them. A journalist can’t simply reinforce what they want to hear, or mold news coverage around the ideologies of this or her audience.

Clemente agreed with White, referring to the term, ‘Masters of the Obvious’ and reiterating that journalists must ask themselves if what they’re reporting is ‘new,’ and not just another addition to a 24-hour news cycle. Always try to inform people of something they have never heard before.

The most popular advice among both White and  Mackenzie was to be oneself and to be unique when reporting. They said it was more than okay to show ones real emotions, especially in broadcast journalism, and in doing so presented one’s audience with an original voice and writing style.

“They don’t want another one of us- they want you. Don’t parody anybody else that you see, be yourself. I want you and your voice. Be yourself with whatever your doing. We want your image.”

– Kent White

Each reporter also outlined the work qualities and capabilities that they were looking for when hiring students straight out of colleges. These are some of the advice they gave:

  • Be “young, scrappy and hungry.”- Hamilton, the Musical This, Mackenzie says, are always good things to be, and are more preferable than someone who believes themselves to be deserving of their job solely because of their qualified and educated, not because of their passion.
  • Communicate how you feel and what you think big issues are. Say something employers wouldn’t expect someone young would talk about. Or write something thoughtful on your LinkedIn page.
  • Make yourself useful and be willing to do anything. This means to step up and go beyond the tasks that were given to you.
  • Be interesting and have personality. “If you make yourself interesting, people will be interested in you.” It’s as simple as that, says Clemente.
  • Be nice to everyone in the workplace. Be someone people want to have around them, someone that relieves workplace stress and tension.
  • Give your ideas. Knowing something a little more than you can add to a story, something that is past the obvious will make you seem interesting and clever.
  • Be authentic. Never solely focus on being famous, successful or rich.
  • Customize your cover letter. Write a letter that reflects what you know about the company, that shows your interest in them and the research you did.
  • Be creative. Because this never hurts.

“Journalism is the opportunity to see the world at its best moments and share it with others.”

– Michael Clemente



Go Beyond ‘Good Enough’

Every day people are bombarded with more hours of media than there are actually hours in a day. The amount of information people consume in a day is even worrisome, or interesting, enough to make headlines! Most recently a study by ZenithOptimedia gained a fair amount of coverage once it found

ten tips forgreat reporting.pngthat people spend more than 490 minutes every day looking at media. The growing accessibility of information and humans increasing curiosity for knowledge have helped foster this news-frenzy. Yet from all the positive outcomes of gaining knowledge, there is still one prevalent concern: How can someone identify great reporting from bad reporting?

Great reporting goes beyond ‘good enough’ when it is not only informative, but also accurate, relevant, engaging and interesting. Different types of articles do not always focus on or put the most importance on the same aspects. For instance, in a feature-like obituary story, like the one discussed below by Jack Nicholson, having anecdotes that help characterize the subject and introducing another voice, an added perspective of someone who knew the subject, are imperative to the story. While in a “hard story” about a recent event, inserting the 5 W’s (where, when, what, why and how) in the nut graph and being thorough yet clear when explaining what occurred is what makes the story stand out.

Yet, across the spectrum of storytelling there are certain aspects that must be included and executed properly in a story in order for it to be great. One aspect is the inclusion of sources that build credibility, and quotes that advance a story and also help to reveal a character. These sources and quotes should be diverse, since it is important that a thorough article has different perspectives, insights and points of view within the story. Another is a lead that attracts the reader’s attention by using strong verbs, details, imagery, rhythm or originality.

The best stories are also those that use direct, active voice, avoid jargon and explain difficult concepts simply yet clearly enough for anyone, a 50 year old scholar to an 18 high-schooler, to understand.

Below are examples of great reporting, and the reasons as to why they have attained this title.

 Jim Nicholson: Edward E. “Ace” Clark, Ice and Coal Dealer

Jim Nicholson’s feature obituary, proves the phrase ‘Everybody’s got a story” true. It also emphasizes the democratic nature of journalism, how the most hard-hitting stories are those which seek to chronicle the life, the successes and failures, the many or lack of advancements, of the common man and woman. This story also evidences the beauty of simple, concise and informative language.

The obituary begins and ends with all the important information about the deceased, to name a few: his name, age, profession, family members, time of funeral and of burial. The story, however informative, still manages to pull the reader in with the great details and fond anecdotes that fully re-create the subject and retell his story. For instance, his nickname “Ace Clark,” which the reporter emphasized in the lead, and which also helps make the subject him sound all-American, personable and humble. Other intimate details and habits, like the fact that the subject only missed work day after VJ-Day the U.S.’s victory over japan, when he was too hungover to wake up, expose him as a passionate person who loved his country.

While poignant physical descriptions like: “Powerful arms and shoulders atop spindly legs,” link Ace to his profession, giving the readers a more concrete image of Ace Clark. Another example of a great description that is also quirky, is when Nicholson compares Ace Clark to a “rogue elephant” when the sports team he used to coach were on the court or field. This description in particular, expresses the extent to which he loved sports, and also creates a small shift in tone, which keeps audience engaged and entertained as they increase their feelings of endearment towards Ace Clark.


Linnet Myers: Humanity on Trial 


1994 Southside Chicago

Humanity on Trial is the paragon of how a compelling story can still be very creative, even when its main purpose is to inform readers of what occurs in a specific setting. Myers’ article earns the title of great not just because of the amazing writing and reporting of the piece, but because she managed to capture the big, overarching issues of class, race and of the criminal system in the U.S. by simply informing us on all the small, specific details of the Victims Court in Chicago. These details range from the quotes of people that work in the court, of the lawyers, the accused, the judge, and those that are witnessed or family of victims, to the facts of actual day-to-day cases and of the personal lives of criminals that are accused. For instance, Myers informs the reader of a case where the criminal, Austin, goes by the name “Loveless,” because “his father insisted on him being named that.” This details not only adds a surprise and further engages the reader, but it gives an idea of the life many of these criminals live.

Myers also includes a wide diversity of sources, and quotes, which enrich the story and give it credibility. Quotes range from criminals saying they haven’t done the crime, to an assistant’s state attorney’s opinion of one specific criminal or case, to a judge’s opinions on the validity of his work. She includes the doubts of a Judge Bolan, who works in “26th & Cal.” Who said of his work: “Is the world better for what I’m doing here?” I ask myself, ‘What are you doing, Michael?’” And who described the Victim’s court as: “It’s human nature with all its pretenses slipped away…Headquarters for tales from the dark side.” By adding a quote of how a judge questions the validity of his work, Myers displays the magnitude of the issue, and how it affects everyone in Chicago—no just the accused and the victims.


Andrew H. Malcolm: A Thesaurist Leaves, Exits 

Andrew H. Malcom’s article A Thesaursit Leaves, Exits displays how he successfully transformed the conventional style of editorial pieces from just being arguments or opinions to also being stories. It is evident that Macolm spent a lot of his time researching what story he thought was most interesting. Or what subject he thought could, in discussing its life, bring with it general social, economic or political issues or examples of the advancements or faults of a certain topic, into the story. The lead of this story is original and engages the reader with its quirky tone almost immediately. It also answers the who and what, and thus introduces the reader to the story’s the nut-graph. The reporter’s diction and sentence structure throughout the entire story mirror the story’s subject and structure perfectly, as they both highlight use of synonyms and an active, informative tone. The story’s headline is a perfect example of how a headline can both describe a story and capture the attention of readers by being unconventional and creative. It says, “A Thesaurist Leaves, Exits,” infroming the reader who the story is about, that that person can no longer be found and that adjectives are going to be an important aspect to this article.


Tommy Tomlinson: A Beautiful Find


Tommy Tomlinson

One of the elements that makes Tomlinson’s story, A Beautiful Find, stand out as great and as beautiful, is the structure of the story. The examination-like questions that remind the reader of having of breakdown and explain the evidence behind your solution to an equation in high school, help the story successfully introduce its main themes. This form also allows the story to begins with the most important information about the problem that Swallow is trying to solve and of Swallow himself and then flawlessly delve deep into the chronology of the four years that Swallow spent trying to solve the problem. Another element is the style of the story itself, the intricate sentences, beautiful imagery, soft tone and attention to specific details that breath life into an affair that is technical and not very adventurous. For instance, Tomlinson reiterates that Swallow life his left eyebrow over the rim of his glasses and uses this detail as the detail that best exemplifies the curiosity and quirkiness of his subject. The reporter also uses details to express Swallow’s relentless attempts at trying to solve the problem, saying that his subject would “file sheets of paper with equations next to phone numbers for the DMV.” The inclusion of Swallow’s role as the Kitchen Spouse, exemplifies the reporters ability to make his subject complex.

Ultimately, Tomlinson’s biggest achievement is transforming the traditional profile article story from the traditional ‘interesting person’ story into a narrative that follows the failures and successes of one person in pursuit of his goal.


Dorothy Thompson: Mr. Welles and Mass Delusion


Cartoon of Orson Wells radio broadcast

Labeled under “Classics” in an anthology of ‘America’s Best’ Newspaper writing, Dorothy Thompson’s column piece Mr. Welles and Mass Delusion, seeks to understand the rise of fanaticism and increasing mass political hysteria with one significant event.

The event, Orson Welle’s reading of War of the Worlds on air, which she labels as the “the story of the century,”  provides the most understanding of the expansion of fascist movements in Europe. Written in 1938, Thompson perfectly captures the frustrations and confusion of a period that witnesses the destruction of Europe and half the world.

The reporter makes a persuasive argument by putting most important information and claims first. This can be seen in her story structure, as her lead begins with her argument and her many claims and then follows it with information about the incident and precise facts on why Welles famous “hour on the air” lacked any possible scenerios and factual evidence. She also begins each of her paragraphs with a claim and then follows it with evidence to prove her claim. The tone of the piece is dry and sardonic and reinforces the role of journalists as social, media and political analysts. Her story is thorough, and explores not just the answers related to the incident, but the answers to the questions brought on by the event’s repercussions. For instance, Thompson explains her disillusionment with the fact that this mass hysteria encouraged people to ask their government for more protection, since it implied giving the government more control and influence over individuals lives.