Just Access

Episode 9 - How to Tell a Post-Conflict Story? Through the Lens of Journalist, Writer and Photographer Amy Kaslow

April 01, 2024 Just Access
Episode 9 - How to Tell a Post-Conflict Story? Through the Lens of Journalist, Writer and Photographer Amy Kaslow
Just Access
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Just Access
Episode 9 - How to Tell a Post-Conflict Story? Through the Lens of Journalist, Writer and Photographer Amy Kaslow
Apr 01, 2024
Just Access

In this episode, we get to talk to Amy Kaslow.  She is a writer and photographer with a lens on at-risk societies worldwide. She's spent the past four decades writing, broadcasting, and photographing in the world's trouble spots, chronicling the immediate aftermath of conflict and well into the post-war period. She also does work within the United States, as well as with art and information today. We speak about how her career began and how she thinks about storytelling across time, place, and mediums.

You can find out more about Amy's work in her gallery and with Know Now at:

Enjoy listening!

Don’t forget to rate us, recommend us and share on social media!

Support the Show.

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we get to talk to Amy Kaslow.  She is a writer and photographer with a lens on at-risk societies worldwide. She's spent the past four decades writing, broadcasting, and photographing in the world's trouble spots, chronicling the immediate aftermath of conflict and well into the post-war period. She also does work within the United States, as well as with art and information today. We speak about how her career began and how she thinks about storytelling across time, place, and mediums.

You can find out more about Amy's work in her gallery and with Know Now at:

Enjoy listening!

Don’t forget to rate us, recommend us and share on social media!

Support the Show.

Interview with Amy Kaslow 


[00:00:00] Dr Miranda Melcher: Hello, and welcome to Just Access. In this podcast series, we talk to some fascinating people, including legal experts, academics, and human rights advocates, to explore ideas about the future of human rights and improving access to justice for all. I'm Dr. Miranda Melcher, a senior legal fellow at Just Access, and in this episode I get to talk to Amy Kaslow.

[00:00:26] She is a writer and photographer with a lens on at risk societies worldwide. She's spent the past four decades writing, broadcasting, and photographing in the world's trouble spots, chronicling the immediate aftermath of conflict and well into the post war period. She also does work within the United States, as well as with art and information today.

[00:00:49] In this episode, we speak about how her career began and how she thinks about storytelling across time, place, and mediums.


[00:00:57] Dr Miranda Melcher: [00:01:00] To start us off, can you tell us please a bit about your background and how you got started in documenting at risk societies?

[00:01:12] Amy Kaslow: Well, I grew up in Washington, D. C. where there's plenty of news and plenty of newsmakers. And I grew up with parents who really cared a lot about the world and I was always reading the newspaper. I was always reading the New Yorker. I was always reading lots of books, trying to get a sense of what mattered most.

[00:01:30] From then, I went off to a college that gave me a really good springboard for questioning, for probing, for researching, and also for knowing that I don't know all the answers and I have to really scrounge to collect the bits and pieces that can compose an answer. 

[00:01:50] I didn't go straight to grad school. I went off to the Middle East. I worked on West Bank and Gazan issues. Mostly economic development. It was the early 80s, and it [00:02:00] was a time of strange to say right now, but Palestinian economic development and stability. So many Palestinians had left the camps and had established houses and lives with some sort of direction outside the camps.

[00:02:19] Many became quite successful. It was a time when Gaza was a big mess, but the West Bank was full of promise. That was when I realized it was very important, it was essential for me to focus on conflict and life after conflict and look at ways that people cope and push through challenges.

[00:02:45] Dr Miranda Melcher: What an interesting sort of start to it, and yes, it does sound a bit strange to hear that about the Middle East given where we're at today, but it also, I think, just demonstrates how important it is, what you were doing then and how relevant it still is today, [00:03:00] right? That these things are still very important for us to be working on.

[00:03:04] And you are still doing a lot of this, as well as many other things. So can you briefly introduce us to the many hats that you wear? And is there a typical day for you? If so, what is it?

[00:03:18] Amy Kaslow: I wish there were a typical day because perhaps I wouldn't be such a maniac, but my days happily many, if not most months of the year, start out with a many hour visit in my garden. I spend a lot of time growing things cultivating new things and I'm horticulturist. My mother was a plant person and I have many of her 60, 70 year old plants in my garden now perennials.

[00:03:47] And we, my husband and I spend a lot of time in the soil, but I spend the most time talking to everybody, making sure everybody's doing well and yes, talking to plants [00:04:00] is very important. And it's a huge release for me. And I didn't realize what a release it was until I started to feel really full and relaxed after my time in the garden.

[00:04:14] And I started to take photographs. I'm, the botanical photographs are as calming to me as anything. And that was a nice transition for me from war reportage to botanical photographing. That would be a beautiful start. But many times I'm awake and ready to write and I'm always reading and researching and writing every morning regardless of the garden or not.

[00:04:38] And then I'm oftentimes working on a couple of things at once. So I'll go back and forth like most of us do. And then I will either go into the gallery to clean it or join our gallery director there to meet artists, to go visit artists in the studio, to meet with all kinds of people who come into the [00:05:00] gallery, who are anxious to learn about the works.

[00:05:04] And I often spend seven hours on my feet every day. I work probably nine hour days and I work every day. I work almost every day. Not all day, but almost every day. It's intoxicating this work because it's a learning process and every piece, every artist with whom we meet has an important story and we learn a very important way to tell it. We also spent a lot of time with partners, and we have museum partners we have organization partners. We're working with the Inter American Development Bank now to examine the impact of the threat of democracy on the United States on the rest of the Central and Latin American region. And we work with many artists in the region as well.

[00:05:54] So we're as we often do with exhibitions and our dialogues, we pair them and that's what we'll be [00:06:00] doing in the coming month.

[00:06:01] Dr Miranda Melcher: Even just, not even just, because obviously that answer had so many things in it, but even just from that one example of a partnership at the end, even just the idea of Latin America and issues around democracy there, that's a lot of things going on. You mentioned being from Washington D. C. I know that working on poverty in the U. S. in D. C. is something you're still very passionate about and work a lot on. And you mentioned earlier about being in the Middle East and war reportage. How do you decide which places to focus on or which people to work with at a given time? Is there a set decision making process?

[00:06:38] How has this changed? Unfortunately, there's so many things to work on in the world that need attention and support.

[00:06:45] Amy Kaslow: Yes, it is. It is episodic. And and that's the nature of news, of course. Stuff happens and it commands our attention. I was hospitalized a couple of years ago. It was some crazy thing. And I could still work. And I was in the middle of [00:07:00] working on a piece on Belarus and the Russian buildup in Belarus and the impact on neighboring NATO countries, the impact on the Belarusians themselves and the possibility of Putin moving in there and using it as a, as border into other areas.

[00:07:19] Yeah. I managed to finish that off. I'm generally, unfortunately ahead of the curve sometimes, so much that I don't make that actual impact that I want to make, but others pick it up and they can make that impact. And I am not jealous about protecting information.

[00:07:37] I think the more that's out there, the better, but, Belarus was well ahead of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, but it was really a harbinger of things to come. And I find that oftentimes, that's what I work on, that's okay. To your point, I do focus on local because local is essential to understand what our own [00:08:00] issues are and how can we possibly have perspective on the rest of the world if we don't have a good sense of what's happening in our own backyard.

[00:08:07] And I do a lot of volunteer work locally and have long done so in, in various capacities. I learned about a program in Baltimore, the largest after school, really, program for at risk young adults in Baltimore, which is one of the most violent cities in the United States and just, just persistent crime figures that always astound folks.

[00:08:32] This program, it's called Living Classrooms, happens to be a real standout in taking, 16 to 19 year olds who would otherwise be prosecuted as felons. If they make it through this nine month program of learning serious skills, in this case, woodworking skills, and getting their GED and learning social skills that are so critical to functioning in this [00:09:00] highly dysfunctional world, that's a huge gift to be able to move youth who've gotten into trouble into productive lives. This program has not a 100%, not even a 50 percent success rate, but a plenty good success rate. And that was enough for me to focus on, invest in and and really try to report on. That's just one example. But, I would say that the adjudication of youth, is perhaps our leading challenge in the United States.

[00:09:35] We have so many who are serving time or are threatened to serve time and so many on the track to serve time. And there's so much more we can do to redirect and stop those would be lives of crime or dysfunctionality with interventions such as the civic organization living classrooms.[00:10:00] 

[00:10:01] Dr Miranda Melcher: One aspect, obviously not quite as direct as something like living classrooms, but is also making more people aware of these challenges, right, and having platforms for people to tell stories, not sectioned off in a particular area or us divided from each other and you obviously have done that in a lot of different places on a lot of topics, worked with many people.

[00:10:25] What about in terms of sort of methodologies of it or mediums of it. Can you talk a little bit about photographs and the place that they hold for you?

[00:10:33] Amy Kaslow: Yes. I'm going to give you an example of one, it's just really on my mind because I just returned from, some family lives in the fancy part of Florida, Palm Beach, which we've heard a little bit too much about these days, but next to Palm Beach which I'm, not terribly comfortable in, next to Palm Beach is Lake Worth and it is a short bridge away, but Lake Worth has [00:11:00] many economic challenges. It's a completely different city. It's upside down from what you would see in Palm beach. There I met a fellow named Nick standing in front of a tattoo parlor and we started talking and asked him if I could take his photograph and Nick's face is emblazoned with lost, failure, I want to die, all kinds of markings on his face under his eye on his forehead. And we had a long talk about why he was there, where he thought he was headed and from whence he's come. He was found laying near a dumpster and he was picked up, next thing he knew, he was in rehab.

[00:11:45] And he's in one of the rehab houses, he was in one of the rehab houses in Lake Worth and the place is littered with them. And I say littered because most of them are not good. They're mostly reignite houses. But he was really pushing against [00:12:00] all odds. He had been an addict for 10 out of 25 years of his life, and he was doing his utmost to get clean.

[00:12:10] His face, to me, his beautiful, smooth skin absolutely un flecked, except for the tattoos, which told us a very sad story. But his eyes were hopeful, and his lips were slightly upturned, and that shot to me was everything. And that shot, if you're not thinking about opioid abuse, if you don't have someone in your family or a colleague who's dealing with it, and it's not on your mind, looking at this young fellow's face, really leaning into it, you cannot help but want to see what that's about. That's why I pair a photograph with a story.

[00:12:57] Dr Miranda Melcher: What an amazing, impactful [00:13:00] example that really I think that one example does exactly what you wanted when you started the answer, right? It tells us the role of photographs in this. So you just mentioned right at the end of that, the pairing the photograph with the story. Can you tell us a bit about the organization you currently have that does this and how you founded and developed it?

[00:13:20] Amy Kaslow: I usually shoot first and develop the story. Sometimes the story's in my head. I was just in Panama and I have been working on Darien Gap issues for years now. Darien Gap has an enormous number of challenges. There is human trafficking, there is drug trafficking, there is gun trafficking, there is environmental degradation beyond belief.

[00:13:55] From the mining to the rubber, I mean, whatever the multinationals can do to [00:14:00] this area, they have done and with government help, of course. So this extremely important and beautiful, essential part of our universe is being destroyed. Worse, there are indigenous tribes who have made their lives there for hundreds and hundreds of years.

[00:14:24] Some of them live on stilted houses along the rivers and they live off the land, they fish, they hunt, they gather. I was in Panama. I expressly wanted to meet M'Bara advocates, and I managed to meet an M'Bara lawyer who is also a a chief of her tribe, and I needed to photograph her.

[00:14:51] She's exquisite and she has her inking starting on the face. Now, this is unlike our friend Nick in Lake Worth. [00:15:00] This is for tribal purposes. This is cultural and her inking starts on her face and moves all the way down her body. And it's quite beautiful, quite striking. To look at this image the viewer wants to know what is that? Who is that? She tells an incredible story. Her image is essential. And then she's a great springboard for me to jump into these important issues.

[00:15:30] Dr Miranda Melcher: And. I suppose a, I guess a craft question. When you have such a powerful photograph like that, and then can springboard into the issues, what do you find are the most effective ways to help readers, or I guess listeners, watchers, depending on the medium, engage with a story like hers? If they're drawn in by the photograph, how then to help them connect with maybe an experience that's so different from what they might have or know?[00:16:00] 

[00:16:00] Amy Kaslow: Exactly. That's beautifully said. Beautifully asked. The answer, I think, Miranda, is that this Nick, let's say it's Nick or this tribal chief I always start with this is Lake Worth, Florida. I take the reader exactly to where I am. And this is Nick. And I introduce this person, and I thread him or her through the story and I make them essential to the story so the reader not only can connect with that individual, but also mega challenges that the reader may not otherwise be interested in or pay any attention to.

[00:16:43] But because it has to do with this person who they happen to be looking at, it's a draw. And that is a way to pull people in. I think a very important group of people who are either disaffected, disinterested, whatever. It's an important [00:17:00] connection. That's why I I've long shot my own stories.

[00:17:04] And even when we had photographers, when I was at the Christian science monitor, occasionally I would shoot my own stories. Because as a reporter, when you're doing the story, you really have a sense of what is is going to sing and is so representative of what you're seeing, what you're feeling, what you're picking up, and you want to share that.

[00:17:25] The reason why I share these images I had exhibitions for several years of my images at universities, at museums, at galleries, whatever. Looking at victims, perpetrators, eyewitnesses, survivors, life after war, or forced migration and mental health. Forced migration and mental health, I would pick 12 startling images from Rwanda to Uzbekistan or, wherever it is, and then choose the image and talk [00:18:00] about the plight of this person or their people through a very challenging period of time and what their possibilities are for moving ahead. 

[00:18:12] Taking people through the anatomy of a challenge is one thing, giving them an opportunity to help, not universally, but help solve the problem even better. We created something called KnowNow, K- NOW. Know This Now. Okay, alright, I've read this thing it's exercised me. Or at a minimum, it's got me pretty interested. Right below that is DoNow. And all of this is hyperlinked.

[00:18:44] KnowNow's hyperlinked. Heavily researched. I learned this (very big on research) and the Do-NOW heavily vetted. What you can do as an individual, what you can do as a group, what you can do here in Wichita, or what you can do [00:19:00] out in Warsaw. There are very serious ways how you can learn more about this issue and how you can galvanize.

[00:19:09] And the Do-NOW, I find, is very rewarding, because I can see the action, I can see our readers responding. I have various ways of seeing. And point is to keep it short. Maybe not so sweet, but short enough to absorb so people aren't, ugh, it's a long read. I'm not doing it.

[00:19:33] Dr Miranda Melcher: So I wonder if I can ask you maybe a few follow ups about that effort. First on the kind of do now side, given, as you said, the range of things that can be done, could you maybe walk us through an example for some of these big issues? What can be done by someone reading in Wichita? 

[00:19:50] Amy Kaslow: Yeah, okay,, so let me give you an example. There's a group in Guatemala, in the Northern Highlands. Northern Highlands of Guatemala is [00:20:00] where it used to be the highest femicide rate in the world in that part of Guatemala. I hope it's now, doesn't have that distinction, but it's pretty high there.

[00:20:10] Villages of these Maya of these Maya, they call them communities, range from dialect to dialect, and Oftentimes, they don't understand each other, they won't speak Spanish, they don't speak Spanish, haven't learned it and there may not be literacy. In most cases, there is no literacy. These are exceptionally difficult to reach physically, because it's arduous, the topography is difficult, but also it's extremely poor and the government leaves it alone. They just don't really invest anything and not really interested in taking care. Meanwhile, the Guatemalans have a field day killing Maya and the Maya men kill the Maya women.

[00:20:56] So Multicolores, a [00:21:00] group that was actually started by some very savvy women in the United States, Multicolores is a group, a cooperative of weavers who have learned how to actually not weave, but loop what they used to weave and create these extremely beautiful tableau and their medium is secondhand t shirts.

[00:21:23] So they rip up these t shirts and they create exquisite works. They learned how to do this, they started to sell, they wrote a book called Rug Money, which is a play on drug money. And it is probably the very best book I've ever read on a grassroots economic development effort, highly replicable.

[00:21:45] That's the other thing, Miranda. I want to look at things that problems that may not, that are generally not site specific. So femicide is bad there. Femicide is bad a lot of places. [00:22:00] Isolation of women, horrendous in many places. Lack of education, we know all this. But let's look at this example here: very hard to navigate part of Guatemala with a very resistant government.

[00:22:13] How an organization, a grassroots organization that is now Guatemalan led, Maya led, I should say, how this organization is able to lift these women who then trickle down their success, their children are now wearing uniforms. If you don't have a uniform, you can't go to school in Latin America.

[00:22:35] They have drinkable water. They have water cisterns. They have nutrition in their food. Instead of just straight up, maze or whatever it is a major increase in the quality of life. So there we see, okay, what is driven that success? Plenty of international interest. Ways to get [00:23:00] around government degradation by getting bonafide NGOs in there who know what they're doing, have street cred, and can really win over local support.

[00:23:12] And then when Guatemala, when the government sees that the women are doing better and bringing in their income and crime is going down, that is very good for the government as well, and they can claim that as a success. So what is, what can we do as individuals to affect change? First of all, read about it, learn about femicide, see that it, what a powerful toxic, toxin it is in world society.

[00:23:37] How to beat it back? What kinds of groups are involved? Who you can connect with? Who you might financially support if you can't give them your own voluntary support? How to tell your friends about it? How to tell your groups about it? How to tap into your corporate structure to help support this kind of change?

[00:23:56] Is your corporation, do you work for a company that is [00:24:00] involved in these high risk areas? What kinds of precautions are they taking on behalf of, not to avert, on behalf of the local people? The list goes on.

[00:24:14] Dr Miranda Melcher: It's amazing and inspiring to hear you talk about these things and I, I think that's what draws so many of us to this work is being able to find and support these sorts of efforts that you're telling us about. For example, these Mayan women, though, I suppose not all efforts are quite that visually creative.

[00:24:33] So that was a particularly cool example.

[00:24:35] Amy Kaslow: May I tell you, may I tell you the ending to this? Actually, it's an ellipsis. But what is so remarkable, we had a the gallery, I've worked with this group for many years now, and we've had two exhibitions of theirs. Our first exhibition, we sold out. We sold out every single one of their rugs.

[00:24:53] And they made, I asked them to make embassy sized rugs. They didn't even know what a runner was, much less an embassy [00:25:00] sized rug. But I live in Washington, I figured I could sell some embassy sized rugs. Who bought the embassy size rugs? The State Department came into the exhibition. The head of the Art in Embassies program, which is a very important program wanted to set up an exhibition in Guatemala City, in the U. S. Embassy, in Guatemala City, a permanent exhibition on the backstrap loom, a very punishing, physically piece of old technology that women would sit at, crouched over their shoulders, their backs, really, as they're pulling and weaving. The looping was liberating. So they put these looped rugs in the embassy, along with a backstrap loom, homage to the backstrap loom, on the wall.

[00:25:49] They then had an opening and invited these Maya communities to come and see their official work is with their [00:26:00] names and all their stories, very respectful, so when Mayan women go in for visas now, they're not, their heads aren't down, they're held high because they feel and see that there's respect where there was real fear before.

[00:26:18] And it is really transformative. 

[00:26:21] Dr Miranda Melcher: That was brilliant. Thank you so much for sharing that second part of the story. 

[00:26:26] Can you tell us about, perhaps, I mean I don't know even how you would choose given how many you must have, but do you have one particular favorite photograph you could tell us about?

[00:26:37] Amy Kaslow: I have always gravitated to a shot I took in the West Bank in the 80s, in the early 80s. I was near, I think, Nablus. And there was a young boy on the side of the road and I didn't see what was behind him, which was a large flock of sheep, but he was a [00:27:00] herder. And I asked him if I could photograph him and he was absolutely exquisite: green eyes with a dark rim around the pupil and he had this kind of searching look, beautiful skin, he was wearing Palestinian sheep herder, he was wearing a second hand army jacket from the Israeli defense forces. And I thought that was ironic and somewhat strange and it matched his eyes perfectly and it told a story right there.

[00:27:42] You know, there was a lot of Palestinian life, a lot of need, very little resource. The Palestinians who were making it out of the camps were scrambling to do so. Then families would help other people out of the camps. Yes, many [00:28:00] Palestinians kept their camp status for refugee status for political reasons, but it was a very fluid time in Arab Israeli relations in the occupied territories and in Israel inside the Green Line. I wouldn't call it fluid now, I would call it disaster. But, seeing that Palestinian sheep herder, not even, I'm sure he knew it was an army jacket, but it was probably all he had. And he was cold. And that's what he was wearing.

[00:28:35] Dr Miranda Melcher: Wow. Wow. I can see why that would stick in your mind. 

[00:28:40] To ask you, to reflect on the kind of breadth of The people you've worked with, the issues you've worked on. You mentioned earlier in our conversation that, young people in the United States is perhaps one of the biggest, problem areas that you see.

[00:28:59] I'm wondering [00:29:00] what you think the biggest, we would call them in the work that Just Access does, access to justice gaps are. in the current system? Is it about youth globally? Is there something that might be the biggest issue in the U. S. but it's different elsewhere in the world? How might you reflect on this, given how many places and people you've worked with and told the stories of? 

[00:29:22] Amy Kaslow: I think in the United States, I think it is youth. I think we have a very serious we will have very serious comeuppance if we continue on this track of institutionalizing youth. There is so much mental health. There's a huge mental health deficit among youth, criminal or not.

[00:29:43] U. S. youth and I'm sure the rest of the world, but COVID, post COVID, I wouldn't blame it on COVID. I think we've had a lot of very traumatizing events in the United States and developments in the United States. But I do think that youth [00:30:00] are more mistreated by the justice system and it particularly, of course, youth of color are mistreated by the justice system than any. I don't think there's a comparison.

[00:30:13] I don't think there's anything that gets close to that. And impoverished minority youth suffer the worst. I think that's number one. We could talk about all manner of justice or lack thereof from Israel to Russia. We have some really beaten up justice systems, if you would call it justice. Extremely troubling.

[00:30:35] I've spent a lot of time in immediate in post war zones and even been in some monitoring groups like the Khmer Rouge Tribunal and in various parts of the world looking at how representative justice, or very localized justice transpires and accountability is for those who are really [00:31:00] really at fault for creating so many ills is very low.

[00:31:03] I think accountability is very low and corruptibility is very high. So I think the more corrupt and you can see that through all manner of organizations, Transparency International does a corruption index that is de rigueur, but that there are other groups like the Freedom House that look at the freedom of society and you can go that down that list pretty easily bing, bing, bing, and correlate authoritarianism with injustice.

[00:31:33] Dr Miranda Melcher: Unfortunately, that's very true. though in some ways, perhaps the visibility of this is helpful? I don't know. It, thinking back to when you started this sort of work, especially in, post conflict or sort of immediate challenging environments like that, are there things that we know now that weren't available then that would have helped?

[00:31:54] Are there things you know now that you wish you had known then?

[00:31:58] Amy Kaslow: If I had [00:32:00] known let me put it this way. I think the beheading of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter all bets are off now for journalists. From a journalistic point of view, taking risks, there's a lot more pause than when I first started out. I didn't even think about risk.

[00:32:16] I went to Iraq, I was single, female, the only non Arab reporter in the country at the time, in 1989, after the Iran Iraq war. You had to be invited into the country at the time, and I was invited by the all important information minister. We know those ministers are of the essence in these countries.

[00:32:37] And had I known, I was poisoned a month into my reportage, I was poisoned. I barely made it out of the hospital and was happy to go into Turkey and get reexamined. Had I known about, that didn't stop me. I would say that was 1989 and I, it didn't stop me. I'm still going. But there's a lot of risk out there. You have to [00:33:00] have the stomach for the risk. But it's important to have that stomach. When I checked into my hotel in Sarajevo, it was called the Holiday Inn, but it wasn't really Holiday Inn, but it was the famous Holiday Inn that had been bombed and re bombed. And I banged my radio equipment, my suitcase up to, I don't know, whatever floor it was.

[00:33:19] Bang. There were no elevators, blackout. I get upstairs and immediately smell cigarette smoke. And there's this self appointed guard, very muscular guy, just been, just left the front. And he is he's sitting up there as as a security guard. And I thought, oh boy, it's late at night no lights. I go to open my room and I'm pretty, pretty interested in getting in there quickly. So I thrust open the door and I am about to step in and I realize the entire side of the building's been sheared by a bomb. And they gave me the wrong side of the hotel. So I closed the door, I passed this guy blowing smoke, who gives me a smirk.

[00:33:59] I go bang down the [00:34:00] stairs with my bag and very offhandedly, ah, that's right, we did give you the wrong side of the hotel, and they hand me another key, which they announced loudly, this, your room, Ms. Caslow, is room, 1088, which you don't do now. You just, for women, especially checking in, you very quietly give them the key.

[00:34:17] Bang right back up same floor, same guy, check into my room. Not long thereafter and when I get into the room, I move every piece of furniture against the door. It's what I do. Someone's at my door handle, checking the door handle and I look through my little hole, peep hole and there's that self appointed guard.

[00:34:36] And he is smoking a cigarette, staring right at the door. I was in a panic and I thought rape is a national pastime here, it's a weapon of war, it's, this is gonna happen. And I stayed up all night, I did try to call, ridiculous, I picked up the phone, tried to call the front desk, of course, there's no line.

[00:34:56] I was terrified. I admit I was terrified, but I was [00:35:00] determined to get up the next morning and go do my reporting, which I did. Examples like this. 

[00:35:04] I went into Kosovo on a very different trip. Many years later, I was to go with a fellow who was an editor of a major news magazine in the United States and his fiancee convinced him it was too dangerous to go. But I had a driver waiting and I was going in and I needed to go, I was going for NPR and I had a story to do and my driver was scared and we got in, we got out with a little incident, but we got out. But to me, overriding all of this fear is, there's a hell of a story here.

[00:35:37] People got to see this. Dangling my mic down, walking on people's lives, crunching on eyeglasses or mascara or a photograph or people's lives were emptied, were burned out and it's important to show that. It's important to show every bit we can every sense we can ignite. [00:36:00] Otherwise the world doesn't pay attention.

[00:36:03] Dr Miranda Melcher: What advice might you give to young people who want to do this kind of work today? 

[00:36:10] Amy Kaslow: I've for years mentored folks. It's an honor. And there's so many brilliant people who do so many wonderful things. And they managed to stop with me for a little while. I often get asked about journalism school. I didn't go to journalism school. I actually don't, I don't believe in it. I'm sure that people do really well in J school.

[00:36:32] And I just don't think, I think if you're compelled to tell a story and you can write, if you can write. If you can't write with ease, you probably should maybe choose another profession. I feel that way because writing is something that it's a delivery and the delivery has to really be able to consume it in a way that has impact.

[00:36:56] So my advice is [00:37:00] first of all, read, research, ask, question broadly and deeply. Travel! Make site visits. Make no assumptions. Get out there, get an advanced degree in agribusiness or environmental abatement or whatever we need new information for to beat back the many problems that my generation has created for this world.

[00:37:29] Learn how to push through this and come up with solution based reporting. To me, that would be the most important advice. Find out how to make things better.

[00:37:40] Dr Miranda Melcher: Any advice for people who may not feel that journalism is the way that they can do it, or writing isn't, but still want to work on solving these problems, on improving the justice available in the world? 

[00:37:56] Amy Kaslow: Yes. One of my favorite experiences, I gave a [00:38:00] talk to the Kellogg school at North Western and these are some of the brightest business grads, soon to be grads, I'd ever met and mid career, most of them. Super interesting. Mid career meaning, they're mid twenties and, yeah, I don't know people do things quickly.

[00:38:18] Some of these folks were in their thirties. But, more importantly, is, where they came from and the organizations, the companies, the philanthropies, the government institutions, the non governmental institutions, they could reach, they had access to, or they aspired to. 

[00:38:37] Join these organizations. Introduce ideas, introduce concerns, reinforce their research, their inclination toward finding better ways to do things, whether it's expelling what you create from your industrial plant through the smokestacks or helping [00:39:00] women find economic development. We know, for example, the leading contribution to economic development is the education and job opportunity for young women and older girls. And there are many ways to get involved, whether you join a women's organization and thank goodness there are so many now that from big sort of name only vital voices that do programs deep inside countries, or very localized efforts like the Multicolores, I spoke of earlier in Guatemala.

[00:39:36] There are many ways to affect change that don't necessarily involve writing or broadcasting. We're photographing.

[00:39:47] Dr Miranda Melcher: But thankfully, there are ways to do that as well, so thank you for sharing those with us. 

[00:39:54]  Outro

[00:39:55] Dr Miranda Melcher: Thank you so much, [00:40:00] Amy, for speaking with us. You can find out more about Amy's work in her gallery and with Know Now at www. amycaslow. com. If you're enjoying the Just Access podcast, please tell your friends, like us and share us on social media. Please also rate us and leave us a review on your favorite podcast app.

[00:40:18] We love to hear what you think, and we really do read every single review to help us get the word out about the podcast and know what our listeners are interested in. 

[00:40:27] Stay tuned for future Just Access interviews, and do get in touch with us with your comments, reflections, or suggestions for people or topics we should cover. You can write to us at podcast@just-access.de, that's podcast@just-access.de