Mark Malijan

InvestigateWest interns take prizes in regional SPJ contest for universities

Yahoo! We just received word that Alexander Kelly, InvestigateWest's correspondent at the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks, won first place in the online news category for universities in the annual contest of the Society of Professsional Journalists, Northwest region.

It brings back the bleary-eyed December nights Alex and I worked from different sides of the Atlantic -- not to mention tireless toil by videographer Blair Kelly and photographers Mark Malijan and Christopher Crow. It was exhausting! We weren't doing it for a prize, but it sure feels good for Alex to win one.

It was the second award for InvestigateWest coming out of the climate summit. Malijan also won a National Press Photographers Association prize for the excellent photos he shot in Copenhagen. (In another Copenhagen update, Crow has produced an audio piece on the conference. It runs over 30 minutes, which might help explain why I haven't been able to download it and listen to it yet. If it gets posted on the web, I'll let people know.)

The Dateline Earth posts from Copenhagen that Alex submitted to SPJ focused on varied topics out of the international climate meeting including controversial Ethiopian strongman and alleged genocide perpetrator Meles Zenawi's role in the talks; criticism of a United Nations-brokered timber pact; and UN officials'  exclusion of our journalists from the meeting hall where the negotiations  were held.

The InvestigateWest quartet also did a great job covering the massive street protests, and brought home interviews with Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and then-Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels.

InvestigateWest Copenhagen climate-treaty coverage points up need for independent journalism

Whew! Fifty-one posts -- all but three in just the last two weeks. Dateline Earth readers got to hear from an Arctic tribal elder, an Indian-turned-American nature photographer, Ethiopian political activists, native-rights campaigners from the Amazon and the grassy plains of Ecuador – as well as the European and American officials who dominate this country’s news diet.
rm iwest mugWe stretched. The InvestigateWest team’s coverage of the global climate treaty negotiations that just wrapped up in Copenhagen was a mammoth undertaking for our small start-up news agency – but one that amply demonstrated the need for independent journalism. It was an effort worth every bleary-eyed late-night hour, every marathon Skype session, every up-before-December’s-dawn morning.

It’s unlikely InvestigateWest will be dashing off to a lot of international meetings. We were fortunate in this case to have the assistance of four able young journalists who raised the funds to get themselves to Denmark. Then they went on to deliver journalism that wasn’t available from many – and in a few cases, any – of the thousands of other journalists who covered the talks.

They did this despite being denied access to the conference center where international delegates were meeting until the last day of the two-week conference.  

[caption id="attachment_7653" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="InvestigateWest photographer Christopher Crow is arrested for the second time. He was held for 10 hours.

Climate "deal" reached in Copenhagen; see great pics, dramatic video of the final hours here

rm-iwest-mug-150x150Well, the delegates to the international climate talks in Copenhagen for the most part are headed for the airport or already winging their way home. Presumably you've seen the coverage; we won't try to duplicate that here, although I'll be back Monday with some reflections. We have some great photos that have been rotating through InvestigateWest's billboard slideshow that I'm going to feature below, plus Blair Kelly's video of the last major protest, which includes dramatic scenes of police beating demonstrators -- some with their hands in the air -- with batons. Activists (perhaps ironically, considering they were shut down by the Copenhagen cops) dubbed that protest "Reclaim the Power."

If you're interested in a few tidbits you may have missed in the way of denouement on the negotiations, check out:

  • The notes covering the final United Nations plenary in Copenhagen, courtesy of Andrew Revkin's Dot.Earth blog at the NYT (we'll miss him -- he's taking a buyout, but I hear he may keep doing the blog), and 
  • Bill McKibben's critique of an NYT story on the Group of 77, defending them of course. I have to say that the most remarkable aspect of the talks for me was the way the poor nations made it known they are not going to be pushed around any more.

InvestigateWest photographer released after arrest covering climate protests in Copenhagen

COPENHAGEN -- InvestigateWest photographer Christopher Crow was released from custody by Danish authorities who held him for 10 1/2 hours after arresting him for covering protests outside the United Nations climate summit.

Mark Malijan, an InvestigateWest photographer who was himself pepper-sprayed and hit with a police baton, confirmed Crow's release. Below is a picture shot by Malijan of Crow in custody.

[caption id="attachment_7412" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Christopher Crow shortly after his arrest. InvestigateWest photo by Mark Malijan."]Christopher Crow shortly after his arrest. InvestigateWest photo by Mark Malijan.[/caption]

Why did Copenhagen cops arrest InvestigateWest photographer covering climate protest?

Try not to get arrested.

That was my advice to the young journalists traveling thousands of miles to cover the United Nations climate-treaty negotiations going on in Copenhagen this month. I said it because it's a truism: a journalist in jail can't file. He or she is not able to do what he or she is there to do -- send back information for the world to see. And we knew there were likely to be some massive arrests as young activists sought in Copenhagen to spur real commitments to tackling climate change.

Fortunately, InvestigateWest Editor and Executive Director Rita Hibbard was part of the discussion. She quickly followed up my admonition with something like: "But make sure you're close enough to capture the action." She emphasized that we can't very well cover a protest march without being pretty close to the marchers, and that we had a right to be there.


InvestigateWest photographer Christopher Crow found himself yesterday trying to balance those two pieces of advice in the blur of a fast-moving demonstration. He was in a group of about 275 demonstrators arrested when Copenhagen cops cracked down on a protest that, to that point at least, had been peaceful. (It should be said, though, that the protesters had been pretty open about the fact that they were trying to shut down Copenhagen's harbor.)

Now, Chris probably could have gotten away. InvestigateWest correspondent Alexander Kelly, photograph Mark Malijan and videographer Blair Kelly were there and managed to scoot. But should Chris have been arrested? Absolutely not! It really honks me off that the police not only detained him at the scene -- it's possible to make a mistake in the heat of the moment -- but insisted on taking him to one of the makeshift holding areas that are serving as jails for the climate protesters.


Videos document struggles between police, protesters at Copenhagen climate treaty talks

InvestigateWest videographer Blair Kelly intimately captured the feel of the so-called "Hit the Production" street protests in Copenhagen, designed to influence the United Nations' climate treaty talks happening in the Danish capital. The second video is particularly intriguing in that it includes a brief clip of InvestigateWest photographer Christopher Crow as he's hauled to the paddy wagon, followed by a really interesting retort from a Danish cop to a protester:

Christopher Crow's photos of Copenhagen climate protest available following his arrest, release

OK, now that InvestigateWest photographer Christopher Crow has been released by Danish authorities, we thought we should offer a look at what he was capturing when he was so unfairly swept up by police while covering protests of the emerging United Nations climate treaty.

These shots are from just before Chris was arrested, as protesters tried unsuccessfully to shut down the harbor in Copenhagen, where negotiators from around the globe are trying to lay the groundwork for a global pact to rein in global warming:

[caption id="attachment_7230" align="aligncenter" width="199" caption="InvestigateWest photo by Christopher Crow"]InvestigateWest photo by Christopher Crow[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_7231" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="InvestigateWest photo by Christopher Crow"]InvestigateWest photo by Christopher Crow[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_7232" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Danish cop ties protester's hands. InvestigateWest photo by Christopher Crow."]Danish cop ties protester's hands. InvestigateWest photo by Christopher Crow.[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_7241" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Once trapped inside the police barrier, demonstrators were informed they would be searched before the demonstration would be allowed to continue.

InvestigateWest photographer released after arrest at Copenhagen climate protests

[caption id="attachment_7203" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Christopher Crow"]Christopher Crow[/caption]

InvestigateWest correspondent Alexander Kelly reports the InvestigateWest photographer Christopher Crow has been released by Copenhagen police. In an earlier dispatch by Kelly we covered details of Crow's arrest, which occurred while he was photographing demonstrators outside the United Nations climate treaty talks in Copenhagen. The demonstrators were intent on shutting down the harbor of the Danish capital .

-- Robert McClure