Seth’s documentary has been raking in awards in the last couple of months: Broadcast Education Association honorable mention and Thesis of the Year for the Journalism Department.
And there’s more good news.
Esha Momeni accepted a human rights award this weekend from the Visual Artists Guild, which is given in honor of the students killed at Tiananmen Square. Esha also accepted an award from the Feminist Majority Foundation last month for the women activists currently jailed in Iran. She appeared on a panel with feminist icon Gloria Steinem, United Farmworkers co-founder Delores Huerta and Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner (bootleg video coming soon). Esha will be entering the Women’s Studies doctoral program at UCLA this fall.
Anasa Sinegal has been accepted into the PhD program in Mass Comm at UNC-Chapel Hill and awarded one of their prestigious Park Fellowships. She departs for the Land ‘o Grits this summer. Shannon Sindorf was accepted into the PhD program at Colorado.
Sahar El Zahed presented her research on Western news coverage of the Gaza conflict at the “Ruptures of War” conference at the Claremont Colleges last month prompting a lively discussion.
Congratulations to our students.
Truth be told, I was feeling discouraged lately, what with the devastating cuts to higher education in California. I don’t know what our future holds, but what I do know is that I work with some talented people:
- Grad student Kenya Young has landed a producer’s position with NPR‘s
“Weekend All Things Considered” in DC.
- @Lizohanesian, an alum of our MA program, was hired this month as reporter-editor on the webside of the LA Weekly.
- Esha Momeni, our grad student who was jailed in Iran last fall, will be speaking at Amnesty International’s Southern regional meeting in Atlanta this weekend. Esha will also speak at CSUN Monday Nov. 9 at the Northridge Center in the student union at 5:20 p.m.
- Graduate student Seth Koury showed a roughcut of his amazing documentary, “Sound of Beirut” to some faculty members earlier this month. Guess this means we gotta let the guy graduate.
- Graduate student Sara Alamdar will defend her thesis in a few weeks. She studied coverage of Iran’s religious minorities by the government-controlled Tehran Times to see if the reporting changed under a reformist president versus a conservative president.
- Colleague Linda Bowen is serving as President of the Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. We attended the First Amendment Coalition’s event at Southwestern Law last Saturday where the LAT’s lawyers scared the beejebus out of journalists wanting to use Twitter or Facebook.
- Sandra Kukla‘s thesis comparing AP coverage of the Gaza crisis with Malaysia’s Bernama wire service is nearly finished. Um, right?
- Claire Rietmann-Grout is busy editing and researching her upcoming thesis project, a documentary about her experiences as an American softball star who travels to Switzerland to play for a “club” and finds a different way of looking at the game and herself.
Our graduate student Esha Momeni is back from Iran after spending nearly a month in Evin prison and then being under a 10-month travel ban — all for simply interviewing the courageous women in the One Million Signature Campaign for women’s rights in Iran. Below are some of the articles documenting her return.
ABC’s Lara Setrakian, who has been one of the best reporters on the election protests and Green Movement in Iran, interviews Esha about her experiences during the election unrest this summer. (Like a lot of other people, I became aware of Lara’s work via her Twitter posts as they appeared on iran.twazzup.)
In an interview with Fox News 11, Esha noted that her goal — bringing a new image of Iranian women to the US — was accomplished even if her thesis materials including her videos were confiscated by Iranian security forces. Multiple reporters here and in Washington, D.C., from Fox maintained an interest in Esha’s story. While the national outlets pushed a confront-Iran frame, the local reporter, Christina Gonzalez, was quite responsible and fair in her reporting.
The Daily News’ Connie Llanos profiled Esha. Connie was one of the first reporters on the story when Esha was imprisoned and I was struck by how much attention she paid to getting it right while giving consideration to Esha’s safety.
In a second story, Connie reported on Esha’s classmates’ relief at her return, quoting Anasa Sinegal who, along with Kara Lawton, turned their master’s thesis into a project documenting their work to free their friend.
Called the Please Free Esha Project, it won the thesis of the year award in the Journalism Department, and is intended to serve as a both an historical record (see complete text version at Oviatt Library) as well as an online resource for other human rights activists and their supporters.
The news of Esha’s freedom came first via a website for the One Million Signature Campaign in California and where you can see a photo of her being greeted at the airport. That news was followed by the Cal State Northridge’s Daily Sundial’s text and video reports. The first photos (which one journalism professor said reminded her of Abercrombie and Fitch ads!) came from CSUN’s talented Jonathan Pobre. These appear with the Daily News story.
AP also interviewed Esha. They assigned the story to Shaya Tayefe Mohajer who speaks Farsi.
The Los Angeles Times ran a press release quoting CSUN’s president. Photos of Esha were initially hard to come by (unless you were willing to use Jonathan’s shots) and they choose to run one of the old photos of Esha from last fall.
For the big picture, the Department of Journalism has noted that
Esha’s imprisonment brought the department together for a common cause – the safe return of our student – and reminded us how important it is not merely to seek the truth but to support each other in our quest to bring the world news of injustices and oppression no matter where those stories take place or how difficult the pursuit of them may be.
And for the many people who have worried on Esha’s behalf about the loss of her thesis project, not to worry. She already has a new one in the works — a photography exhibition. Not surprisingly, it’s about human rights in Iran, it’s creative, it’s original, it’s surprising, in short, it’s Esha.
My graduate student Esha Momeni who was held for nearly a month in solitary confinement at the notorious Evin prison in Tehran and then banned from leaving Iran for almost 10 months has returned home to Los Angeles.
Esha retained her indomitable spirit even in prison, where she sang in her cell despite the admonitions of prison guards. You can hear her talk about this, the Iranian
election and more in an
amazing interview at the Daily Sundial.
Since her arrest last October, the very message Esha hoped to bring to the world — that Iranian women are strong and courageous instead of weak and passive as they are often stereotypically depicted — has been upended by the images spilling out of Iran: Women as a key element of the massive protests.
The Campaign for Equality, the women’s rights organization Esha was studying in Iran when she was arrested, provides an update on her return.
The LA Daily News has the story.
One of the most important civil rights movements in the world today is going on in Iran where women, especially those under 30, are calling for gender equality. They are being imprisoned, fined, harassed and banned from leaving their country.
A Cal State Northridge Journalism Department’s panel discussion about this topic also revealed that:
- CSUN MA student Esha Momeni, who was imprisoned in Iran and has not been allowed to leave for more than 100 days, did not find feminism in the West as the news media have reported . She found it in Iran.
- The website for one of the key women’s rights groups, Campaign for Equality, has been blocked by the Iranian government 19 times.
Hear this and more from Roja Bandari of the One Million Signature Campaign talking about the status of Iranian women and their Campaign for Equality Audio only:
Video of her talk, Part 1:
Also hear from Ariel Vegosen and Rae Abileah of CodePink who discuss citizen diplomacy, common misconceptions about Iran and their trip to that country as part of an interfaith dialogue. They note:
- Only 500 Americans travel to Iran every year.
- Although the US is demanding Iran not have access to nukes, the American government introduced nuclear power to Iran under the Shah.