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2013 Daniel Pearl Intern: Riva Gold

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Riva Gold

A Stanford Graduate Journalism student has been chosen as the 2013 Daniel Pearl Memorial Journalism Intern.

Riva Gold is working toward a Master’s Degree from the Graduate Program in Journalism in Stanford’s Department of Communication. She will work in the Hong Kong bureau of The Wall Street Journal this summer.

The internship was established to commemorate the work and ideals of Pearl, a Stanford graduate and Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent who was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan in 2002.

In an essay written as part of the application process, Gold noted that by reporting on broad social and political issues through the lens of ordinary people, “Daniel Pearl was able to unmask the diverse faces affected by … larger issues, and at the same time, exposed the common humanity in his sources.”

Gold is from Toronto, Canada. She graduated from McGill University in 2010 with honors, earning a joint degree in Philosophy and Religious Studies. Gold previously served as a news writer and content producer for The Mark News in Toronto, a news intern at Haaretz in Tel Aviv, and events writer for Star Media Group Digital in Toronto.

Since coming to Stanford, she has served as an intern for KQED, San Francisco’s public radio station, and as a staff writer for The Peninsula Press, a news project of the Graduate Program in Journalism.

A committee of Communication Department faculty members evaluated applicants for the internship. The final decision was made by The Wall Street Journal.

Pearl, a 1985 graduate of Stanford’s Department of Communication, was kidnapped in Karachi on January 23, 2002, while working on a story retracing the steps of “shoe bomber” Richard Reid. A month later, on February 21, his captors released a videotape of his slaying. He was 38.

Masked Faces

By Riva Gold

When I pictured the face of the Arab-Israeli conflict, I imagined an armed soldier, locked in a decades-long struggle for control of the land along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. It was a natural assumption, given the prominence of such images on the covers of countless newspapers.

But when I arrived in Tel Aviv in the summer of 2010, I found myself confronted by a different face of the war—this one unarmed, frail, and clutching hand-written documents in a language that was neither Hebrew nor Arabic.

“We came because we were suffering, and the government put us in prison,” Taj told me.

Taj, who would not share his last name out of fear of deportation, fled to Israel from Darfur in 2008 to escape a humanitarian crisis. “We thought a democratic Israel would give us rights, but for many of us, it’s not so different here from Darfur,” he said.

Taj was just one of the thousands of asylum-seekers from Sudan, Eritrea and the Ivory Coast living in extreme poverty in southern Tel Aviv, trapped in a legislative loophole. Administrative backlogs and political uncertainty left him unable to secure his status, and due to high military spending, he said, there was a shortage of resources for people like him to receive government assistance.

This too was a cost of the conflict. Taj’s story, combined with a related documentary by Shai-Carmeli Pollak, would become one of the first articles I wrote for Haaretz.

As a reporter, I later encountered two more faces of the very same conflict in Israeli brothers Omer and Sella Nevo. They too were locked in a heated battle, this time seeking to restore the image of their nation in the eyes of the world. In this diplomatic battle, their armor was competitive debate.

For the two brothers, the conflict in Israel did not stop affecting them when they completed their military service requirements. Instead, the issue morphed into a struggle for national pride on the world stage. This next battle for them was quieter, smaller, but nonetheless reflected another face, a different face, of the region’s military conflicts.

Nearly 11 years after his death, Daniel Pearl will continue to be remembered as a journalist with a special gift for unmasking dozens, if not hundreds, of these hidden faces. The complex Iranian struggle between conservatives and reformists could be seen, thanks to Pearl, through the lens of competing musicians. A court battle between UCLA and the owner of a Stradivarius violin could be best understood through personal accounts of how Teresa Salvato acquired the valuable instrument in her divorce settlement.

In an interview with Larry King, Mariane Pearl once said that the most important aspect of her husband’s legacy was his work to expand the limits of tolerance and knowledge of other people. By reporting on broad social and political issues through the lens of ordinary people, Pearl was able to unmask the diverse faces affected by these larger issues, and at the same time, expose the common humanity in his sources.

This is my goal, too. I would like to use my position as a reporter to tell stories from different pockets of the world through the narratives of ordinary people. I would like to contribute to a cultural conversation that expands our understanding of human diversity.  And I would be greatly honored by the opportunity to work towards that goal as a Daniel Pearl Memorial Intern at The Wall Street Journal.