- Additional Positions at AU
- Director, Backpack Journalism Project
Bill Gentile is an independent, national Emmy Award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker teaching at American University (AU) in Washington, DC. His career spans four decades, five continents and nearly every facet of journalism and mass communication.
He covered the U.S.-backed Contra War in Nicaragua and the Salvadoran Civil War in the 1980s; the U.S. invasion of Panama; the 1994 invasion of Haiti, the ongoing conflict with Cuba, the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War and the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s worked across Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Ivory Coast, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Chad, Angola, Rwanda and Burundi. His book of photographs, “Nicaragua,” won the Overseas Press Club Award for Excellence, Honorable Mention.
He is a pioneer of “backpack video journalism” and author of the highly acclaimed “Essential Video Journalism Field Manual” and its Spanish-language version, “Manual Esencial de Produccion Video Periodismo.” He teaches the first-ever Spanish-language class at AU’s School of Communication (SOC), “Backpack Documentary en Español.”
He is the director, executive producer and host of the documentary series, FREELANCERS with Bill Gentile. He engineered the School of Communication’s 2015 partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and is the driving force behind that initiative. Gentile helped found, and is the faculty advisor of, the AU student chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), the organization’s first student chapter in the nation’s capital. He is a member of the Pulitzer Center’s Campus Consortium Advisory Board. He is a member of the Overseas Press Club (OPC) Foundation Board of Directors. He is advisor to the Association of Foreign Correspondents in the United States.
Gentile collaborates on filmmaking with the university’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS). His recent work includes “Fire and Ice on the Mountain,” about the diminishing glacier at Huaytapallana, Peru, and its impact on the local population’s spiritual relationship with the environment. He also produced “When the Forest Weeps,” a short film that examines how Ecuador’s Kichwa Indians struggle as their deep spiritual relationship with the Amazonian rain forest diminishes in a clash with the forces of so-called modernity. In 2013, he shot, produced, wrote and narrated a three-part film series on religion and gangs in Guatemala. They are, “I. The Gangs,” “II. The Researcher,” and “III. The Pastor.”
Bill Gentile began in 1977 as reporter for the Mexico City News and correspondent for United Press International (UPI) based in Mexico City. After covering the 1979 Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua, he spent two years as editor on UPI’s Foreign Desk in New York, then moved to Nicaragua and became Newsweek Magazine’s Contract Photographer for Latin America and the Caribbean.
COMM-544 Foreign Correspondence
COMM-560 Backpack Documentary
COMM-476 Photojournalism & Social Doc
CORE-107 Complex Problems Seminar: Why We Fight: U.S. War & Peace
International affairs, conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East, Islamic fundamentalism, Latin America and the Caribbean, foreign correspondence.
- Nicaragua, book of photographs made in that Central American nation during the Contra War of the 1980s. Published by W.W. Norton.
- Interviewed for and appeared on cover of Society of Professional Journalists’ Quill magazine.
- Interviewed in Columbia Journalism Review about coverage of Afghanistan.
- NOW on PBS story, "Afghanistan: The Forgotten War," is basis of major article on counter-insurgency in the September 2008 edition of CQResearcher.
- Review in the August edition of Yoga Journal, regarded as the most authoritative publication of its genre, called my film, Underground Yoga, an experience “not to be missed by beginners exploring different yoga schools or seasoned practitioners.”
- Featured in American University online publication “American Today” in story about teaching while embedded with U.S. Marines in Afghanistan.
- Featured in American University online publication “American Today” in story about NOW on PBS stories, "Nurses Needed" and "Afghanistan: The Forgotten War."
- Featured in two award-winning documentaries about international journalism, The World Is Watching and The World Stopped Watching.
- Variety highlighted Prof. Bill Gentile as one of ten Leaders in Learning for its "Education Impact Report '09" issue www.variety.com/article/VR1118001709.html
- Regular judge at Defense Information School (DINFOS) at Ft. Meade, Md.
- Organized and moderated Media and the Military: An Uneasy Mix, a panel discussion, widely attended by students and faculty. The panel was co-produced with the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.
- Participant in panel discussion, “Military Policy and Media Access in the New Administration,” held in November 2008 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
- Made two presentations, one in Spanish, at the 10 International Symposium on Online Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin onlinejournalismsymposium.wordpress.com/2009/04/17/backpack-journalism-with-bill-gentile
- Delivered presentation on insurgency/counterinsurgency at special course on the "Military and the Media" for the School of International Studies at the Inter-American Defense College in Washington, DC.
- Documentary Consultant on The White House: Inside America’s Most Famous Home, a full-length documentary on the president’s residence.
- Produced and shot Nurses Needed, broadcast by NOW on PBS and named Number 1 most popular story of 2008.
- Produced, shot, wrote and narrated Afghanistan: The Forgotten War, broadcast by NOW on PBS and named Number 3 most popular story of 2008.
- Produced and shot Underground Yoga, a full-length documentary on yoga masters in Greece.
- Produced, shot and wrote DATELINE AFGHANISTAN: Reporting the Forgotten War, on foreign correspondents working in Afghanistan.
- Produced, shot, wrote and narrated Tough Act to Follow, NOW on PBS.
- Produced, shot, wrote and narrated Echoes of War, on NOW with Bill Moyers.
- Produced and shot Doctors Without Borders, on National Geographic Television.
- Produced, shot, co-wrote and narrated The Voice of Hope, on ABC’s Nightline With Ted Koppel.
- Shot Trauma: Life in the ER, on The Learning Channel.
Honors, Awards, and Fellowships
“Nurses Needed” and “Afghanistan: The Forgotten War,” stories done for NOW on PBS, named Number 1 and Number 3, respectively, as the top stories broadcast by NOW in 2008. www.pbs.org/now/shows/442/index.html
- “Documentary Consultant” for C-SPAN production, The White House: Inside America’s Most Famous House. This production has become the Number 1 bestseller of any C-SPAN production to date. - Professional web site.
- Conducts regular Backpack Journalism Workshops With NOW on PBS www.pbs.org/now/shows/440/Journalism-Workshop.html
Area of Expertise
International affairs; photojournalism; conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East, Islamic fundamentalism, Latin America and the Caribbean; foreign correspondence; backpack documentary; social documentary; .
Bill Gentile is an independent journalist and documentary filmmaker at American University, where he brings 30 years of field experience and professional contacts to the next generation of communicators. In 2008, Gentile traveled with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24th MEU) in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand Province. The film he produced and shot, Afghanistan: The Forgotten War, was broadcast by NOW on PBS. Later in the year he shot and produced a story on America’s nursing shortage, also broadcast on PBS. In December C-SPAN broadcast, The White House: Inside America’s Most Famous Home, on which he worked as Documentary Consultant. Gentile teaches Photojournalism, Foreign Correspondence and Backpack Documentary