Veronica Steiner

Veronica Steiner is a journalism major at Laney Community College where she is a staff writer and feature editor for The Citizen. She is a new mother to a bouncing baby girl, full time student, community activist, and aspiring foreign correspondent. She is part of On Spec’s Intern Mentorship Program.

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The entrance to Jesse’s property and their neighbor’s mansion ablaze. Photo: Cal Fire

We are still waiting for rain in California. We had a different kind of rain a few months ago, ashes flew across the sky and onto our cars and roofs. The sky turned an orange-red one September morning, but it wasn’t a sunset. It was the haze of fires engulfing us. We wished for drops of water to fall, but they have yet to come. Instead, as firefighters kill one fire, another begins. …


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Fariba Nawa interviews Gulsum Kav of We Will Stop Femicides in Istanbul. Photo: Ozge Sebzeci

In this collaboration with Foreign Correspondence podcast, On Spec host Fariba Nawa gives a raw, intimate interview to Jake Spring about her two-decade career, family, and the struggles of straddling two cultures as a journalist. You can listen to all episodes of the podcast Foreign Correspondence, where you will hear deep dive interviews with a diverse group of foreign reporters.


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In this collaboration with the Continuum Collective, we are exploring the rise in gender-based violence during the pandemic and what can be done about it. On Spec’s host Fariba Nawa joins Jillian Foster, the host of the Continuum Collective’s Radicals & Revolutionaries Lab podcast, and Teri Yuan, the host of the Engendered podcast.


Noor Hasan

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Noor Hasan is studying political science at Pasadena City College and hopes to one day become a civil rights lawyer. She is part of On Spec’s Intern Mentorship Program.

Born to Palestinian parents 18 years ago, I, along with millions of others unified in the burning passion to fight, and rewrite the narratives, which for far too long have been misconstrued by history.

My anger is justified. The origins of my family lineage predate any existing religions, so it’s ironic that religion has been pushing them out for 70 years.

Palestine, one of the oldest countries in the history of the world, has been subject to endless war and an invasion of its land by humanity’s desire for power. In 1948, the Israeli government began its systematic destruction of Palestinian land and lives. Following the invasion came a term known as “Nakba,” an Arabic word that can be translated as catastrophe. To many, the Nakba was an ethnic cleansing, which gentrified and destroyed over 450 villages, as well as forced the expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinian civilians. …


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Fanny, 17, in front of her boarding school in Malawi, which closed during the pandemic lockdown. Photo: Catherine Cardwell courtesy of CAMFED.

What has quarantine been like for children during the pandemic? Are they finding their creative little selves and building stronger family ties? Or turning into online zombies and losing their social skills? Or are they becoming child laborers to help their families survive? It depends on the kids and the country. On Spec host Fariba Nawa takes you inside her home in Turkey with her daughters, and then to Malawi, where they get to know a teenage girl whose life changed drastically when her school closed because of the pandemic.


Geoffrey Aung

Geoffrey Aung is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University, where his research focuses on the politics of infrastructure and logistics projects in Myanmar. He spends a little too much time on Twitter at @Rgnhardliner

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Copyright: ©EU/ECHO

In Turkey, it is not always easy to explain what I am doing or where I am from. My wife is working here, I say, and I am writing my doctoral thesis. “So you are writing about Turkey? Are you studying at one of the universities here?” No, actually, I write about Southeast Asia, and my university is in the U.S. “Then where are you from?” I’m from the U.S., I reply and, not looking like what Turkish people often expect of Americans, I wait for a version of the usual follow-up: “But where are you really from?” Occasionally I’m patient enough to explain that my father’s family comes from Burma, or Myanmar, but sometimes neither name for the country really registers. …


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Women in Iraq face an uphill battle against rising domestic violence during the pandemic. Photo by David Mark for Pixabay.

Men are beating and killing the women they know in a shadow pandemic that’s seeing a startling increase in domestic violence numbers during quarantine across the globe. Journalist Menel Raach tells the story of a Syrian Kurdish woman in Iraq running from her ex-husband amid lockdown in a refugee camp.


A. Pashkevich

A. Pashkevich is a pseudonym to protect the security of the blogger. She is a consultant in Minsk.

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Google Search results on the query “May 9, 2020 Belarus”. On Victory Day on May 9, with peaking COVID19 cases, Minsk streets were full of military parades with tanks and WWII veterans decorated in carnations and no masks.

Belarus is a country that has always felt surreal to me. Since the Soviet times, when people were supposed to follow certain rules publicly and then gathered in the kitchen to “talk real stuff,” Belarus has had parallel lives. We could only be ourselves when surrounded by those we trusted. This suspiciousness and mistrust of double realities have become part of our Soviet heritage. Solidarity is something that we are only starting to build here — in the circles of like-minded people. Many things have to change, and not just because of the coronavirus. The upcoming elections on August 9 may offer some hope. …


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On Spec Podcast
Season Three

For its third season, independent journalism podcast On Spec wants to explore how disinformation and fake news impact ordinary people’s lives.

Disinformation, misinformation, and fake news take different shapes in different countries but hurt the low-income and marginalized communities in dramatic ways. As governments around the world become more authoritarian, fake news becomes a tool to control and rule — whether by influencing voters ahead of elections, or by pitting them against each other. But it’s not just governments spreading lies. People from all backgrounds contribute, sometimes unwillingly, to disinformation campaigns.

On Spec wants to meet, engage and understand the people who spread fake news, and those who try to fight against it, then show how it impacts their communities. We’re particularly interested in stories related to climate change, the novel coronavirus, and women’s rights. We are commissioning three, 30-minute, character-driven, sound-rich audio stories where the reporter has a personal connection to the topic. The stories will be done from the field with in-person interviews (or in the safest way possible considering the pandemic). The reporter will be a character in the story, but also investigate the root of the disinformation and follow through with the impact on ordinary people, which may include data, analysis, and historical context. For this season, we have already accepted pitches from Hong Kong, India, Russia, and Turkey. So please no pitches from those countries. We prefer stories from the global South but are open to Western countries, if that’s where an issue is most prevalent. …


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Jackson Krule with a fresh batch of home made challah bread. Photo: Arielle Krule

You probably know someone who has discovered their inner chef in the last few months. In New York, photographer Jackson Krule discovered he was a baker. Unable to go out and photograph the Orthodox Jewish community he has been documenting, he started baking challah bread at home and posting photos online. Now it’s turned into a business that delivers all over the country. Alisa Reznick brings you that tale, and her own story of learning her family’s recipes during the pandemic in Arizona.

On Spec Podcast

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