Photojournalist Shiho Fukada shared her passion of crisis reporting

Multimedia Reporting by Erin Valentine
The Pulitzer Center encourages reporters to travel the world and tell the stories that need to be told.

“People have to know. People have to know that people died,” said Shiho Fukada, a freelance photojournalist, on why she spends her life covering crises.

Fukada came to Elon University today to discuss her past in crisis reporting and her process in photographing, filming and gathering facts for stories. She has received numerous recognitions and awards for her work.

Shiho Fukada, noted photojournalist, talks with journalism students at Elon University,  Photo by Erin Valentine

Shiho Fukada, noted photojournalist, talks with journalism students at Elon University,
Photo by Erin Valentine

Originally from Tokyo, Fukada has spent her life traveling all over the world to find the stories of those who need their stories told and dedicating her life to her projects.

“You have to really believe in your project,” Fukada explained. “You have to really convey your passion.”

Fukada talked with journalism students about what makes a journalist great. After suggestions such as curiosity and ambition were given by students, Fukada shared her insight.

“The ability to connect with people,” Fukada said. “The key is you have to be the person people want to share their story with.”

Fukada talked about having “Bill Clinton moments.” According to Fukada, a reporter needs to be able to make their subject feel important.

Crisis reporting requires for a journalist to put themselves in the thick of difficult situations. Fukada has reported on topics ranging from sex workers in Bangladesh to the aftermath of the tsunami in Japan.

“Your personal feelings should not stop you from pursuing the story,” Fukada said. 

Fukada has also been no stranger to receiving criticism from both readers and those she reports on.

“Don’t take it personally,” Fukada said. “You get spit on, you get yelled at, you get cursed.” 

Fukada showed her film, “Japan’s Disposable Workers,” and discussed her work with video in the project.

“I like to tell the story through the real peoples’ voices,” Fukada said.

She started the research for her film after reading a New York Times article on homeless workers in small towns. According to Fukada, she wanted to find out what happens to people who fall through the mainstream cracks.

 As a noted photojournalist, Fukada has also spent a large portion of her life photographing her experiences.

“It allows me to slow down and really focus on what’s happening in front of my eyes,” explained Fukada on photographing her stories. “It’s a very spiritual experience for me.”

Fukada stories are not the usual stories covered by photojournalists.

“In the photojournalism world, we focus too much on extreme poverty because it’s visual, it’s romantic. You know, it’s interesting,” Fukada explained.

Fukada’s visit was funded by the School of Communications, which has an association with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

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