Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Our Man in Albania

Hey Guys,

After all the heavy duty stuff of late, it's time to shift gears a bit to throw some much-deserved props to our own Jason Kandel of Valley News. By the time most of you read this, the intrepid Mr. K. will be blasting off for Albania, where he'll be addressing the country's nascent independent press on the challenges of covering organized crime.

He's on this mission, recruited by the US State Department, as a result of his excellent work in the past covering the Russian-Armenian mob's activities in Glendale. He's spent the past few weeks studying up on the history of American crime syndicates and he'll bring with him a vast knowledge of cops, crooks, crime and justice.

From when I sat next to him in my earliest days at the Daily News to today, I've always been impressed by his drive and love of the craft of journalism. I don't think I've ever met anyone who cares as much or tries as hard to hone his skills, regardless of the subject. I'm consistently amazed by his dedication and great attitude toward the work.

Please join me in congratulating him and wishing both him and Kerry, who'll be joining him later, a safe and pleasant journey home. We'll look forward to hearing about your tales of adventure upon your return. Godspeed and take a bunch of pictures...



Anonymous denise hamilton said...

I'm a former LAT staffer turned novelist who went to the Balkans on a Fulbright in 1993-94 and visited Albania twice. (I was based in Skopje, Macedonia, next door, and taught journalism to college students). Albania is a fascinating wonderful benighted place, but the main challenge your reporter will face is not teaching the reporters how to show both sides, keep out their opinions, etc. The main problem is that the rule of law is tenuous at best in Albania, and journalists who dare to go after corrupt politicians, judges and businesspeople are likely to end up dead. Until there is a civil society, it's difficult to expect reporters to wade willfully into danger, risking their lives, to write about corruption, for whatever pittance they are paid. The threat of murder is very real, and few reporters want to be martyrs. Look at the woman journalist who was recently gunned down in Russia for writing about military corruption in Chechnya. I'm all for 'training' an independent savvy media but it can't exist in a vaccuum, alas. When I showed "All the President's Men' to my University of Skopje students, they all admired W&B's techniques but said if they took that approach in Macedonia, they'd get killed. My experience in the Balkans made me realize that it's a very complicated situation, and it's not just about us going over there to impart our wisdom to the huddled masses. The smarter Albanian journalists know exactly how the independent Western journalistic model works. And many do what they can. But the reality of power in Albania, Russia and many other places is such that journalists take their lives into their hands by investigating organized crime and corruption, and the Western press should be acutely aware of that as they wade into these complicated waters.

I wish Jason all the best, he'll have a fantastic time, Albanians are wonderful, warm-hearted and intelligent, and I would be delighted to hear his views upon his return.



8:29 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home