By Lauren Newby and Elena Bauer
On Friday, October 31, Stanford in Government’s Campus Awareness Committee hosted a Policy Lunch with John S. Knight Journalism Fellow Christina Passariello. Passariello started out the lunch by sharing a brief history of the path she took into journalism and the many places it has lead her to since she received her first assignment from Rolling Stone Magazine during her junior year at UC Berkeley. When asked what she thought was the best way to enter into journalism, Passariello highlighted the importance of experiential learning and encouraged students interested in the field to pursue internships and find a niche in the industry that both excites them and would allow them to differentiate themselves.
One of Passariello’s most recent and well known projects was investigating a huge factory collapse in Bangladesh for the Wall Street Journal. She was outraged by the lack of accountability on the part of multinational corporations whose garments were produced in this factory.
Passariello researched broad characteristics of garment manufacturing in the developing world, but she also pursued individual narratives about the topic. These ranged from how one might assign a monetary value to a Bangladeshi life to the ways in which multinational corporations subcontract their manufacturing.
Passariello is particularly interested in the lack of consumer knowledge about where clothes come from. She used the example of the recent movement to understand where our food comes from, giving the consumers the choice to buy organic and local foods if they wish. She believes that with more consumer education, a similar revolution is possible in the clothing industry. If consumers demand more from the products they buy, producers will be forced respond accordingly. The problem, however, lies in the lack of transparency about where and under what conditions clothing is made today. Instead of standing idly by, Passariello is taking this problem into her own hands. While at Stanford, her project is to create a database that maps the different factories used by the largest international clothing corporations, which can then be made public for consumers’ reference.
Passariello’s presentation demonstrated that she is both knowledgeable and personable. Not only is she a world-renown journalist, but a strong role model for students seeking to make an impact in the world. Stanford in Government is excited to hear the results of her research and the many more contributions she will make to the field of journalism.