August 7, 2012
French independent radio reporter.
Marine Olivesi worked as an associate producer at New York Public Radio WNYC, then started roving around the Mediterranean as a freelance reporter. Over the past years, Marine has carved herself out a “migration beat” while covering the Arab Spring from Tunisia and Libya for public radio stations around the globe (NPR, PRI, CBC, Radio France Internationale, Deutsche Welle).
You can learn more about her work by visiting her website: www.marineolivesi.com.
In April 2012, Marine was in Bamako, Mali from where she just produced two radio segments for Public Radio International’s The World, with the help of the French-American Foundation. Her two-part report explores the migration-based connections between the Libyan uprising last year, and the turmoil in Mali today.
Check out her stories here: http://www.theworld.org/2012/05/mali-migrants/.
She has been continuing her reporting in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Tunisia.
In May 2012 Marine Olivesi produced two compelling stories as part of the Immigration Journalism Fellowship.The first one aired on Public Radio International’s The World, and addresses the current political crisis in Northern Mali that triggered the displacement of tens of thousands of Tuareg civilians from north Mali to neighboring Burkina Faso.
These Tuareg populations are trying to escape the conflict between government forces, Tuareg rebels and Islamist militants.
According to the State Department and the UN Refugee Agency, these Tuareg refugees are part of the 300,000 people who have been displaced since January.
Listen to her story here: http://www.theworld.org/2012/05/tuareg-violence-mali/
In July 2012, “The Libyans need us here. We know we need them as much as they need us,” told Nigerian worker Adallah Abduaziz (photo) to reporter and Journalism Fellow Marine Olivesi.
Abduaziz is now being held in a migrant detention center in Tripoli, Libya. Marine’s compelling story, which was broadcast on PRI’s The World, sheds light on the workforce shortage in post-revolution Libya and the crackdown on illegal migrants.
Listen to the broadcast here.
Later that month, Marine Olivesi reported from the little town of Nkoranza in Ghana for NPR about the crackdown on illegal workers in Libya.
While hundreds of thousands of foreign workers fled the violence in Libya during the country’s uprising last year, many Ghanaians are indeed making the long journey back seeking better job opportunities.
Just like their Nigerian fellows (see above), Ghanaians in Libya face a backlash against immigration and are often arrested by Libyan militia men, ending up their journey in makeshift detention centers.
To read and listen to the story on NPR, click here.
Why does immigration reporting matter today?
Reporters on the beat are digging into a formidable pool of human stories, many of which go unreported. Yet telling a wider range of immigration stories is vital to help debunk preconceived notions and shift the negative focus surrounding migrants these days. I remember one of my journalism teacher at Columbia University writing the word “IMMIGRANT” on the blackboard and asking us to tell the first thing that came to our mind. She was surprised that so many of us associated positive words such as “hope.” Immigration is often tied on the news to insecurity, unemployment or integration issues. Ask anyone the same question, and his answer will probably reflect that. Ours were mostly accounted for by our own journeys… A good third of the students in the class were foreigners! I believe we need to strive for a fairer, more balanced understanding of the challenges immigrants and their host countries face, but also of the opportunities generated for both along the way.
What resources would you recommend on the topic?
A couple of blogs are troves of information on my specific area of interest (aka migration around the Mediterranean Sea).
– Migrants at Sea: http://migrantsatsea.wordpress.com/
– The IOM and UNHCR websites are also good ways to keep track of trends, stats and latest reports.
What makes an outstanding reporter?
Be curious and passionate.I realized when I started working freelance that I’m able to tell and sell any story I get excited about. The nicest way I’ve heard people describe journalism is a “chronicle of the human experience.” It’s a universal purpose in essence. If a story catches your attention and that you invest enough time and energy in telling it well, it’s bound to intrigue other people as well. Then, I guess the best reporters have honed their storytelling skills through years of hard work…. which are also enhanced by some unique personal qualities. I’ll never forget for instance late Anthony Shadid’s humbleness and humility. I barely knew him, but Anthony’s enthusiasm and encouragements touched me. He was one of the very best reporters covering the Arab world, and yet made young reporters on the field feel like they were on the exact same footing. That’s probably what makes a reporter “outstanding” in the end: The ability to engage anyone –the powerful, the destitute and everyone in between– without prejudices, condescension or judgement. Because that’s also the best way to get a story right.
Who are your journalism inspirations?
Here’s what the best immigration reporting reads like if you ask me:
– The World in a City, Joseph Berger
– Embracing the Infidel, Stories of Muslim Migrants on the Journey West, Behzad Yaghmaian
– Antonio’s Gun and Delfino’s Dream, Sam Quinones (a FAF fellow!)
– Otherwise, my number one inspiration these days is NPR’s Beirut correspondent, Kelly McEvers.
She’s been doing spectacular work from Syria and is literally reinventing how to report general news on the radio.
While on the ground, what is your most memorable anecdote?
The first time I entered Libya, back in the Spring 2011. A friend and I had crossed the Tunisian/Libyan border a few hours earlier and we ended up in Nalut, a town in the Nefusa mountains.
It was desert, except for its main hospital. Most of the Libyan medical staff had either fled the fighting to Tunisia, or were fighting themselves. Left were about two dozen foreign doctors and nurses from Eastern Europe and South East Asia who hadn’t been paid for months but kept tended the wounded of a war that wasn’t theirs.
We were first offered to stay in a comfortable house nearby featuring an all-equipped kitchen and several empty bedrooms… more than we’d ever bargained for.
But then rockets started falling around town and we were urged to find shelter in the hospital’s basement. Slightly panicked, we rushed to the basement… only to find two North Korean doctors playing ping pong like it’s the final of the Olympics and a group of Ukrainian nurses with heavy make-up cheering on the side –all completely oblivious of the soundtrack of shelling outside. I sat with my friend on the floor of the hallway, dumbfounded by such eeriness… and confident that we had found a solid immigration story!
What are your next projects?
Continue to witness the “Arab Spring” unfold and chronicle some of the stories of what has become the most important sequence of events on the foreign news since 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As so many people, I’ve been taken aback by the incredible breath of hope these revolutions were born out of, the diverse forms they’ve taken from one country to another, and the pain and suffering they’ve also caused. It sometimes only take a few seconds of a scene well told to make a new layer of reality emerge in the mind of listeners who are tuning in, far away from this whirlwind. These few seconds are all I’m striving for