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Jean Guerrero

Award-winning multimedia reporter and author of upcoming memoir, Crux

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  • About Jean Guerrero

    Multimedia journalist Jean Guerrero reports on the complex issues that connect and divide the U.S. and Latin America. A native Spanish speaker, she served as a foreign correspondent in Mexico City for the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires.

    Guerrero was born in San Diego to a Puerto Rican mother and a Mexican father. In Crux, Guerrero reflects on her relationship with her father, an immigrant who moved across three continents in an attempt to escape perceived CIA mind control experiments while struggling with a crack cocaine addiction. Most people would categorize his behavior purely in terms of mental illness—but Guerrero is after larger game, exploring interpretations that cross cultures and disciplines. In telling her father’s story, Guerrero also tells her own, using a journalist’s accurate eye combined with stunning lyricism to combine strands of memoir, science, biography, and history. What follows is an exploration of the human psyche, as Guerrero tries to understand her father’s world by crossing borders ranging from those separating countries to those that lie between families.

    Guerrero holds a BA in journalism with a minor in neuroscience from the University of Southern California and an MFA in creative nonfiction from Goucher College. She is the recipient of the San Diego Press Club and Society of Professional Journalists Awards and was named 2016 winner of the prestigious PEN/FUSION Emerging Writers Prize for Crux. She is active in public radio and television, working with KPBS, the San Diego NPR and PBS  NewsHour affiliate, among other national partners.

  • Speaking Topics

    Curing The U.S. and Mexico's Parallel Illnesses

    The American dream has become hallucinatory; the Internet revolution helped fuel a post-fact reality. Mexico's dream never reached fruition; the revolution of the 20th century was a mere mirage, unfolding into today’s period of record bloodshed. As Guerrero explored in Crux, the logic of the U.S. and the spirituality of Mexico unfold in parallel directions – beyond reality, toward delusion. Guerrero discusses how the materialism of the U.S. compelled her toward numbness and self-destruction, while the superstition of Mexico trapped her in a world of spirits and emotion. Embracing contradiction and her two conflicting cultures is what helped her find her way back to earth. Can a similar binational process save the U.S. from its era of "alternative facts," and guide Mexico out of its unparalleled violence?

    In A World Of "Alternative Facts,” How Can Journalists Find The Truth?

    Americans have acquired the ability to customize their own realities, using the Internet and social media echo chambers to more concretely wire biases into their brains. Drawing from Crux and her reporting, Guerrero explains how people like her father, "Targeted Individuals” and groups from opposite poles of the political spectrum rely on conventional journalism tools to reach conclusions that are considered delusional by mainstream society. What can journalists learn from this phenomenon? Are journalists falling into similar traps of confirmation bias? In this talk, Guerrero dissects the disease of “fake news” and discusses how journalists can use counter-intuitive strategies to regain trust from the public in their pursuit of truth.

    Borders and Immigration In The Trump Era

    Guerrero has been covering the U.S.-Mexico relationship since 2010, and reports on immigration issues at one of the world's busiest border crossings: between San Diego and Tijuana. She talks about what a hardline immigration stance looks like on the ground – how deportations and wall construction along the U.S.-Mexico border change lives on either side.

    Rethinking Mental Illness

    What can we learn from the stories of people who have been diagnosed with mental illness? The Western world views hallucinations and delusions as undesirable symptoms of brain chemical imbalances that must be corrected as soon as possible. If we take a different approach and pay close attention to these often-dismissed narratives, can we use them to glean insights about not only the patients but society as a whole?

    Cross-Border Memoir In The Age Of Isolationism

    In a world that is increasingly divided by walls and political rifts, amid a rise in xenophobia and a fear of "the other," authors of mixed nationalities and ethnic backgrounds who write about their lives and hyphenated identities are creating bridges. Using examples from her own memoir and those of others, like Marie Arana's American Chica and Isabel Allende's Paula, Guerrero explores the rising significance of this genre and how it can evolve with our times.

    The (Good Versus Evil) Supernatural Power of Storytelling

    Through Crux, Guerrero discovered the supernatural power of storytelling – its capacity to alter material reality without touching it. Language can liberate or imprison. Labels can heal or destroy. Guerrero explains how true stories can be made into magic spells: by exposing the power of interpretation, then harnessing it. She shares personal anecdotes about using this method to cope with PTSD and helping her father do the same.

    Hostile Environment Reporting For Young Women

    Women starting careers as journalists face unique challenges, especially when reporting out of hostile environments. Guerrero discusses reporting from deadly smuggling routes at the U.S.-Mexico border, opium poppy plantations, drug tunnels and more in Latin America during her early twenties. She covers the basics of hostile environment awareness training and shares potentially life-saving tips for the inexperienced.

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  • Jean Guerrero travels from San Diego, CA

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