The New Global Journalism

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A class project exploring how different types of reporting have emerged in four countries where traditional journalistic practices have somehow failed populations. My team focused on Mexico’s use of social media to report on cartel violence.

Meet Shacara 

Video by Kathryn Brenzel and Melissa Howard

a product of Columbia University’s Digital Media Newsroom 

Nearly two years ago, jealousy turned a group of teenage girls into a pack of assailants.

Their target was Shacara McLaurin, and her perceived offense was that she could sing. Her fellow classmates wanted to prevent her from showing this at the Brookyln high school’s talent show, so they beat her with a padlock stuffed in a sock. The attack left her with six stitches near her left ear, a bruised jaw, several marks and partial loss of hearing in her left ear.

But it also inspired her to speak out against violence. She founded an anti-bullying campaign, “Victim2Victorious” — a name that in many ways reflects how McLaurin has constructed strength from a horrible act.

Today, McLaurin, now 20, divides her time between student teaching and attending Boricua College, where she is majoring in childhood education. She spends most Sundays singing in her church’s choir. She is also a teen ambassador for STOMP Out Bullying, a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching kids about the dangers of bullying and cyber bullying. She even wrote an anti-bullying children’s book, “Not You Sarah.”

Bullying in U.S. schools is an issue that has gained substantial traction in the last few years. The death of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi propelled New Jersey to pass its Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights. New York’s anti-bullying law went live in July. And the consequences of unchecked harassment continue to be seen in national headlines, such as was the case with the recent suicide of 15-year-old Amanda Todd.

The importance of spreading awareness about the tragedies borne from bullying cannot be overstated, but perhaps equally important are the stories of those who persevere. Since the April 2011 attack, McLaurin has shown determination to work past the hatred of a few jealous girls. By day she is a student-teacher, and at night she continues her education at Boricua. She is a choir director and the daughter of a proud mother, Robin.

In many ways, her story is much like that of other people her age — she goes to school and is working toward building a career. But this video will show how she’s turned a painful part of her past an opportunity to educate and grow into an adult whose ambition hasn’t been stunted by cruelty, but arguably fueled by it.