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On the move

Sunday, September 24, 2006
I'm finally making the jump away from blogger to a wordpress blog. I guess that means I won't be spending as much time at BloggerHacks. The new site can be found at http://www.danielsato.com

I am still working on the site...hopefully I have an index page and all of that up soon.

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SJSU NPPA Fall 2006 Speakers

Saturday, September 09, 2006
Another thing that has kept me busy this semester has been the SJSU NPPA student chapter. I am pleased to post our list of guest speakers for the semester (full list of events to come).

Tuesday, Sept. 19 - BBQ with new SJSU photojournalism professor, Dr. Michael Cheers. Cheers is a former professor of photojournalism and magazine journalism at the University of Mississippi. The BBQ starts at 5 p.m. at the 7th Street BBQ Pits on the SJSU Campus.

Thursday, Sept. 28 - Shmuel Thaler, staff photographer of Santa Cruz Sentinel and president of the California Press Photographers Association. Nhat Meyer, staff photographers with San Jose Mercury News. They will talk on ethics in the digital darkroom age.

Tuesday, Oct. 10 - Michael Grecco, Los Angeles freelance photographer from editorial to advertising.

Thursday, Oct. 26 - Frederic Neema, San Francisco freelance photographer.

Thursday, Nov. 9 - Marcio Sanchez and Jeff Chiu, staff photographers with Associated Press.

Thursday, Nov. 30 - Brad Mangin, freelance sports photographer.

Where: SJSU Journalism building Dwight Bentel Hall room 133
When: All meetings start at 6 p.m. with exception of the 9/19 BBQ
RSVP: none
Cost: none
Parking: 7th and San Carlos Streets

Here are links to a map of campus (DBH is located in C2) as well as directions to the campus. For more information you can email sjsunppa@gmail.com.

Back in business

It has been more than a month since my last post. I have been kept busy at my new post as Spartan Daily online editor. Thanks to Neal Waters, we started the semester off with a multimedia presentation on the San Jose Grand Prix.

Neal and I are also working on a rather frustrating site redesign for thespartandaily.com. As Ryan Sholin pointed out not too long ago, it can be a pain to work in a system that is "driven by a daily print cycle" and formatted to look like a newspaper. Breaking free of this College Publisher supplied mold has required Neal to tear apart most of what CP had built, while still being bound by some of their basic formatting rules when trying to redesign the site.

Also in the works online is the recently launched Spartan Daily blogs. I hope to migrate all of the columnists from the main daily page over to the blog in some manner, as well as add representatives from various aspects of student life on campus.

Leaving Nepal...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006
As I write this I am sitting in an internet cafe located in the Bangkok International Airport. My time in Nepal has come to an end, and now I move on to a more leisurely vacation in Japan.

You can continue to follow Rene Edde's exploits in Nepal and possibly elsewhere by keeping up with her blog.

San Jose State University photojournalism student Diana Diroy is off in the Philippines working on photo stories and learning more about her cultural roots. She has started up her own blog to explain her work, reflect on her surroundings and post photographs. Check it out, subscribe, leave comments.

Media and Government in Nepal

Tuesday, July 25, 2006
While in the village of Mudikuwa with Rishikesh Tiwari, we had many discussions about the current political situation in Nepal, as well as the history of both Nepal and America. Interestingly, we came to the conclusion that he is afraid his government does not know enough about its citizens, and I worry that my government tries to know too much.

In a land sandwiched between two countries that are rapidly developing, China and India, Nepal has lagged behind economically. Rishikesh blames this on an unstable government. Too often those in power were worried about how to keep it and not concentrating on issues such as education, agricultural reform, and healthcare.

In the media as well, there are many similarities and differences. In Nepal, being a journalist is a very well respected profession that pays relatively well. And yet, depending on whom I’ve asked, every paper has been described as both a rag and a mouthpiece of the government. During the people’s movement, the media was heavily censored, some journalists received money to report positively on the government, and blogging could make you known on a worldwide level.

According to a BBC poll, in the United States, the people’s trust in the media sits at 59%, lower than the 67% level of trust in the government (One of two countries polled, along with Britain, to have government trust higher than media). Recently, the New York Times came under fire for reporting the actions of the government. Last March Professor Dennis Dunleavy blogged about a May 2005 survey conducted at the University of Connecticut which showed that "only 14 percent of Americans named freedom of the press as a right in the First Amendment, while 22 percent felt that the government should be able to censor newspapers."

While the media in both countries face a somewhat skeptical public, and a government that does not always support its actions, it feels as though citizens in Nepal are optimistic that the government will finally right itself and the media will be free to report on the news. Also, everyone that I have spoken to is aware of the events going on in their country, and the history behind those events. In the United States, people are more concerned with the latest celebrity gossip than press freedom or world news. In an April talk to the Kansas Press Assn.'s 113th Annual Convention, Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein faulted the media for being motivated by profit and catering to an "idiot culture." Due to declining readership and advertising revenue for news media outlets in the United States, the press freedom and public interest that is so sought after in Nepal feels like a distant memory quickly erased by the latest Hollywood makeup/breakup.

100th Post Extravaganza!!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Coming to a close...

I woke up today to the realization that I have but one week left in Nepal.

Looking back at my time, it feels like it has been a personal test more than anything else. Could I redouble my efforts in the face of unexpected adversity? Prior to my interest in photography and journalism, I am not sure that the answer would have been yes. And yet, here I am, one month and one week in later Nepal, my first trip outside of the United States, finishing up stories and looking for souvenirs to take back to friends and family.

Nepal feels far less foreign that it once did. I now know my way around its capital, Kathmandu, and am comfortable walking with motorbikes whizzing by, haggling with shop owners and making my way around cows on the sidewalk.

At times, Nepal has felt like such a wonderful place, and at others (they have been few) I wanted nothing more than to be back in Los Angeles. On the whole, the people of Nepal have been so kind and giving to me. The scenery, especially in the villages, has been some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Being American, though, and carrying US Dollars, I never feel quite at home…always a tourist waiting to be taken advantage of. Whether is has been being quoted a price triple that of what locals pay or being asked how I can help to get someone to America, I am aware that I am just visiting.

Has my stay in Nepal changed the way that I view the world? Of course, being here makes me appreciate the things that I had been taking for granted at home and inspires me to help deal with the problems that a country with such a wealth of resources, diversity and talent should not be having.

I was most intrigued by the view that the people of Nepal have of America. I am aware of America’s attraction as the land of opportunity, though I assumed that our recent foreign policy decisions would sour the image of America to many. It is difficult not to have an idealized view and want to go to a country where a former Member of Parliament can work in a department store and send back more money then he ever made in Nepal.

I've broken my blog.

Does anyone know why my white background refuses to go all of the way down the whole page? I must have screwed it up during one of the many times I disconnected due to rain and power outtages while messing with my template.

From Pokhara to Mudikawa Village

Sunday, July 16, 2006
The next stop in my visit to Nepal was to be Mudikawa village in Parbot District. Here I saw the work of Rishi Tiwari, who was working to empower the farmers in his village. I began my mini-excursion in Pokhara, in the company of Ashoka Fellows Rishi Tiwari and Lucky Chetri. We traveled by taxi for two hours from Pokhara to Kusma. Here we left our ride and began our trek on foot.

walking down

We descended down from the plateau on which Kusma sits until we reached the banks of the Modi River. After taking a rest in the forest, we continued on until reaching a suspension bridge.


After crossing the river we began our upward ascent to Mudikawa. The trail was narrow at times, the steps small, and the rocks slippery from the recent rains (all of these conditions apply only to me, as Rishi had no trouble whatsoever in making the trip).

We started over there, in Kusma, crossed the river, and made our way to Mudikawa.

We were welcomed very warmly into Mudikawa.


Rishi took the time to show me around the village and I saw all of the work that they had accomplished. I spent my nights in Rishi’s father’s house. Just as I traveled from house to house, they too often received guests. I learned that each time you visited it was polite to stay for a while, have tea (I had a lot of tea), and catch up on what was going on in the village and elsewhere. At the Tiwari house, large amount of time was spent in socializing within the family. Whenever they were not in the field, they were sitting together, young and old, and talking. They do own a television and used it, but more often than not a visitor could find them sitting outside on the porch.


It seemed as though Rishi’s mother, Mina Kumari Tiwari, was always busy cooking meals or preparing tea and snacks.


I showered outside near the fields. I left after spending three days there and I hope to return again soon.

Life in Pokhara

Sunday, July 09, 2006
Pokhara feels a world away from Kathmandu, and is a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle found there. In Pokhara I am free to walk the streets without worrying about being honked at constantly or hit by the occasional stray side view mirror. It has rained each day that I have been here (as it had been in Kathmandu), though the rain in Pokhara elicits different feelings than in Kathmandu or back home in California.

In California, rain brings thoughts of overflowing storm drains and nets filled with trash along the LA “river.” In Kathmandu, rain means flooded streets, less than safe drinking water, and countless motorcycle riders patiently waiting under awnings and in shop doors for the rain to subside, a burden more than a pleasure. In Pokhara, right or wrong, rain reminds me of life and of the corn, beans, and rice I can see growing all around me. There is a great deal of peace to be had sitting on a balcony overlooking Phew Lake.


Social Entrepreneurs

I had never before heard of the term “social entrepreneur” before getting in contact with Ashoka. With people increasingly disappointed by the lack of action taken by governments to solve problems, a growing citizen sector has emerged which seeks to enact change, often in unconventional ways. We in the field of journalism have seen the rise of citizen journalism in response to readers who have either lost faith in the credibility of the media or feel that they can better relay news, often at the community level.

As stated in David Bornstein’s book, “How to Change the World,” we often equate social change with an idea “whose time has come.” Environmental awareness, automobile safety, sustainable agriculture, etc. And yet, many great ideas go wasted, not because society doesn’t need them at the time, but because there is not a champion behind the cause.

Bornstein writes that social entrepreneurs are innovators, relentless in pursuit of their goal to help society. Their actions bring about “systematic change” shifting “behavior patterns and perceptions. What business entrepreneurs do for markets, raising productivity and yields, changing industry standards, etc, social entrepreneurs do for society.

I write about this not only because I have had the pleasure of meeting some of these social entrepreneurs during my trip, but also because, as photographers, we often hope to change the world in some way through our pictures. These people are changing the world, everyday, all over the world, through their actions.

A Quick Detour

While blogging about my time in Nepal, I happened to catch the attention of someone from an organization called Ashoka. I soon met with Sadhana Shrestha, country representative of Nepal for the Ashoka organization. She informed me of the history of the organization, its founding, its current state, and the plans for the future, both in Nepal and globally. I learned of the tireless work of William Drayton, and the many social entrepreneurs he has helped push to success (more on that later).

I now find myself in Pokhara, Nepal, meeting with three of the Ashoka fellows: Lucky Chetri, Mahabir Pun, and Rishi Tiwari.

Lucky runs a trekking agency that caters to female clients and offers female guides and porters. The women guides are given training in a variety of subjects including English, Nepali history & culture, flora and fauna, basic first aid, and computer skills among other things.

Mahabir has set up Internet access in 14 remote villages in Nepal. Using a series of relays he transmits signals through receivers tied on poles, trees, and housetops in order to help provide a wealth of resources to improve the ability of rural schools to teach their children. The villages are also connected to a hospital in Pokhara, allowing doctors to dispense advice to areas that would normally be inaccessible.

Rishi Tiwari works with local farmers to grow produce that has a value on the market as well as practice forms of crop rotation to maximize yields. He also works with those without land, encouraging them to collect dead plant life while herding their animals and then compost this material. This compost is then sold at markets in Pokhara.