Cristina Avila-Zesatti, Peace Correspondent

Is it possible to smile in war times? It truly does exist a model agency only for disable people? Does a model agency for disabled people truly exist? Who is known as the ‘new’ Ana Frank and why? What is the mission of the Peace Boat? Who is the only doctor in the world that is able to stop Female Genital Mutilation damages? Do you know that in the Middle East there is are a group of chefs cooking their own recipe of peace for Israel and Palestine?

Indeed: the world is crowded with peaceful stories. But, for some reason, the mainstream media have decided to ignore them, and, instead, they present us a planet completely collapsed for by war, conflicts and disasters.

Into the editorial desk, there is a sentence very extended that says: ‘the good news are bad news’. I know that very well, because during the first 14 years of my career, I used to work as a journalist and TV news producer for the principal US media: CNN, NBC and several documentaries, and also for some Mexican editorial news enterprises.

However, during all that time while I was working, there were a little voice at my interior that always was asking me for make a difference in the journalism that I was searching to do.

In 2005, I received a scholarship to go to Barcelona to study something called ‘Culture of Peace’. To say the truth, I never had heard that term before, but I felt quite fascinated for the idea, and most of all, for the possible match that I could do with my journalistic work.

And, indeed, I can say without any doubt that that was a ‘revelation’.  Finally I had found the kind of journalism that my heart was searching for: to talk about peace stories (I thought) definitely could help to transform this world.

While I was studying ‘Culture of Peace’ and discovering that called ‘the peace journalism approach’, I started to offer this kind of stories to different media enterprises, thinking that for them it will be also a revelation, and for sure, a new attractive news coverage. Sadly, I was wrong. And even with all my professional experience behind me, it was very hard to discover the truth: the media were definitely attracted for the more morbid face of our reality.

However, inside of me, I was still convinced that all those peaceful initiatives and stories that I was discovering should be ‘aired’ or published. Not only to help in some way to transform this world, but also, because I thought that it could be also help to transform the actual journalism. That’s why, at some point, I decided that I will do it by my own.

At the very beginning, my first idea was obviously to start a personal blog, a little and personal place where all those ‘peace stories’ could be together. But, while I was planning all the possibilities that I could include in that space, I realized about the huge range of the idea.

Yes. I was totally seduced. I used to spend hours reading all the items related to the ‘Culture of Peace’ and also, searching (and the most important thing: finding!) powerful peace stories to tell… I remember very well that fascinating period, because, that captivation started to transform myself in a pretty positive way.

One night, I dreamed a ‘name’. I woke up and by repeating: ‘Peace Correspondent’ . Indeed: exactly the opposite of a war correspondent, a journalistic figure actually created for the mainstream media at the XIX century.  In that moment, for me, the entire panorama was enough clear: the space will not be just a simple blog, but a new media. A peaceful one, entirely dedicated to this kind of stories from all around the world, and of course, due to the great reach of the web, a digital one. So, then I started to draw the content that could (and must) be covered for a ‘peace correspondent’.

In 2007, me and my little crew we received a fellowship from a Catalonian NGO, in order to create this new media. I spent 2 more years working as a ‘common-journalist’ at CNN, and using my free time to finish the ‘peaceful-webdesign’. Finally, in 2009 we launched the first version of ‘Peace Correspondent’, (www.corresponsaldepaz.org) which version 2.0 will be ready soon.

According to our statistics, at this moment, we use to receive an average of 2000 unique visitors from 70 different countries, and we are ready to go for more peaceful stories from all around the world!

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