"I shot a clip and it was like a miracle. That's how I became a journalist - displaying problems of the society," says Jon Alpert, American journalist and documentary filmmaker, who met students of journalism department of Yerevan State Linguistic University after V. Brusov on October 13.
Jon Alpert, who had a chance to interview Saddam Hussein and Fidel Castro in the course of his career, visited Armenia in the frames of Internews's "Alternative Resources in Media" program and with the financial support of USAID.
The experienced reporter told the future journalists dangerous, amusing and exciting episodes of his life and presented some of his videos which were once shown on NBC, PBS and HBO.
"I didn't study journalism. It's the same when they say you must become a doctor and put a knife in your hand. In my case it was a camera," says Jon. He used to be a taxi driver and never intended to become a journalist. But when Alpert first took a camera in his hands he realized that this thing was going to become a part of his life.
Vietnam, Cuba, USSR, China, Nicaragua, Philippines, Korea: this is not the full list of the countries that Alpert visited with his cam when a historical event took place. As a result, he received 15 Emmy and 3 duPont-Columbia awards for his documentaries.
"If you have something to achieve you become the bravest man in the world, for you realize the responsibility for your country and society. Remember that a journalist is the eyes, ears and consciousness of society, and he can change everything," says Jon.
In his career, Jon survived a lot of moments threatening his life, and his only weapon was the cam.
"The journalist should not carry any weapon. My gun is my camera, and I can win any battle. I try to stop the death, not to kill. Journalists fight for peace, and having this opportunity is wonderful," says 63-year-old Alpert.
Alpert was fired by Public television for his brave and dangerous discoveries, and he was prohibited to work for private TVs. Even his crew often left him alone.
"Sometimes you feel there is no need to stay in this or that place, but something tells you you should stay. You have to feel the fire, the passion you have inside, and it will help you to give people the truth, to change everything."
Alpert believes the journalist has to do two important things: to find and collect information and show it to people.
He says that in the course of time the way he presented his reports suffered some changes to make them more effective and reliable.
"It took me four years to understand that there's no need to appear on the screen and speak. It is possible to make reports only by shooting and speaking behind the camera. Many journalists don't like this way of reporting but I have chosen this style," he says.
Because of this change many of his colleagues claimed that Alpert's reports were not real. "Well, those were the people who prefered to stay in hotels instead of going to battlefields."
Jon Alpert believes that before starting any program, the journalist should think of what he can change with it. Very often there is no need to introduce yourself as a reporter, and sometimes you have to use hidden cams if it can help the society.
"Usually, when somebody sits next to you in the bus and tries to start a conversation, you say 'Please, leave me alone.' But starting this conversation is the job of the journalist: you have to intrude people's personal space. If you tell them you're a reporter, you're not going to get the information you need."
During his visit in Armenia, Alpert is planning to meet students and journalists. It is his first time in Armenia, but he says he has an Armenian friend in New York and they play hockey together.
In the comming year, four more famous and experienced journalists will visit Armenia in the frames of the "Alternative Resources in Media" program.
Wikipedia.org: Cinéma vérité ("truthful cinema") is a style of documentary filmmaking, combining naturalistic techniques with stylized cinematic devices of editing and camerawork, staged set-ups, and the use of the camera to provoke subjects. It is also known for taking a provocative stance toward its topics.