School of Communication
Carolyn Brown is an Assistant Professor at American University in the School of Communication's Journalism department. Professors Brown's area of expertise is Latino immigrant communities, the border, Latino representation in the media and the anti-immigrant militia movement.
Professor Brown's new documentary The Salinas Project was distributed by American Public Television in 2015. It has aired in 90% of the top 20 markets in the United States and more than 80% of the U.S. It has also been an official selection in several film festivals.
The documentary has already received a 2015 Bronze Omni Award, a 2015 Gold CINDY Award, and Professor Brown was awarded an Associated Press/Robert R. Eunson Distinguished Lecturer award for her work on the film.
The Salinas Project follows the lives of four young Latinos in the agricultural town of Salinas, California as they face social, political and economic constraints. Children of immigrant agricultural workers in East Salinas (know as Alisal), an area with a Latino population of 92% and a per capita income of $11,917, often face gang violence and difficult housing conditions.
The Salinas Project identifies some of the systemic causes of these issues while highlighting the successes of the young Latinos living in Alisal. The people of Salinas maintain abundant hope and resilience while often living with limited resources and an uncertain future.
Professor Brown's previous documentary From the Fields: An American Journey was distributed to NBC affiliates across the country in the fall of 2012. This film is a biography of a Chicano journalist who worked in the fields of the Salinas Valley as a child and went on to a successful career as a reporter at NBC. From the Fields goes beyond the hateful rhetoric surrounding the immigration debate and into a deeper exploration of what it means to work, to support family and contribute to our American society. From the Fields has been recognized with an Orson Welles California Film Award, a Gracie Award for Outstanding Directing, and a CreaTV award for Excellence in Directing. Brown has been invited to screen and discuss From the Fields at various universities and venues across the country including: Stanford University, The National Steinbeck Center, Harvard University, San Jose State, Georgetown, Oregon State University and Northern Arizona University.
In 2011 she produced a documentary film, On the Line, distributed by the National Educational Telecommunications Association to PBS Stations nationwide. The film aired on PBS stations in 2011 and 2012 — more than 300 times in major markets across the country including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Miami, New Jersey, New York City and Denver.
This film was shot in Arizona, on the border, during a time when the anti-immigrant sentiment was exploding. On the Line follows the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps and the anti-immigrant movement in Arizona. This film also examines the history of immigration in the United States.
Professor Brown produced and wrote two articles and 11 video shorts for the Investigative Reporting Workshop released in October 2011. These were part of a larger PBS FRONTLINE Lost in Detention investigation, which looked at the immigration detention system in the United States and the lives of those who cross the border.
Professor Brown has appeared as an expert on several national broadcast news shows including the CBS Evening News, CNN in Español, and NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show, discussing her documentary and anti-immigrant militia groups. She has been quoted as an expert in such publications as The Financial Times and ABCNews.com among other publications.
Professor Brown is currently working on a new documentary called The Salinas Project. This film examines the lives of children of immigrant farm workers. It follows the struggles and successes of the people who live in the agricultural, immigrant city of Salinas, California.
Professor Brown’s journalism career spans more than a decade. She worked as a journalist and news producer at MSNBC News and Fox News Channel in New York City. She was a producer and senior producer in local news in San Francisco, Washington DC and Phoenix. Brown has written commentary as a contributor for MSNBC.COM. She began her news career at CBS News and has also worked on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Cosby Show and The Chris Rock Show.
Brown covered the 1996, 2000, and 2004 presidential elections at CBS News, KRON-TV, and Fox News Channel. One of her first and most memorable media jobs was at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta for NBC Sports.
Brown has extensive experience working in the Latino community and speaks conversational Spanish. The daughter of a Latin American immigrant, who grew up in a bicultural and bilingual family, she feels especially connected to the immigrant community. Professor Brown understands the struggles and dreams of immigrants and is committed to telling their stories. Brown enjoys visiting her large family in California, Arizona, and Peru — where she can practice her Spanish.
BA Colgate University; MA Northern Arizona University
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