Bramwell Ryan is a journalist, writer, award-winning photographer and author. An honours graduate in broadcast journalism and past editor of four magazines, publisher of a national newspaper, founder of several communication and media companies and a successful freelancer.
Key stats – written more than 5,000 articles, covered many international disasters, traveled to 60 countries and is a multi-platform content pioneer. He has taught media production throughout North America and in South Asia.
Here is some of what he has done over the years… much of it while chasing stories for magazines, newspapers, radio and television:
- Paid eight bribes on an eleven hour car trip in Russia
- Tripped over a skull in a Haitian cemetery
- Stuck for three weeks in the most top secret military base in North America where smoking was only allowed inside the buildings
- Chased cattle rustlers on the Swiss-French border
- Smuggled into Chechnya when journalists were forbidden
- Trapped in a canoe with an effete photographer while being chased by a bull moose
- Watched 24 people get death sentences from The Salvation Army in rural Zambia
- Scraped mold from my toothbrush in Nicaragua
- Bypassed government internet control in Tunisia to get email
- Underwear stolen in Trieste
- Danced at a gypsy celebration of a corrupt judge in Turkey
- Proved an $11,000 camera can bounce on a Mozambique runway
- Rode the morning garbage truck for street people in Toronto
- In the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan, explained to a 10-year-old the merits of having two wives
- Helped wrestle a caribou into a rubber boat in northern Quebec
Bram believes there will always be a role for those who report, sift, link, aggregate, edit and collaborate and that role is filled by journalists. That is key to the ethos of Dispatches.
On another note…
I dread it when people ask me what I do for a living. The answer can be one of a dozen different things so I usually tailor my answer to the circumstances. I don’t like talking about myself so my replies are usually designed to elicit the least follow-up questioning.
So, depending on who asks, I am a journalist and put together stories for newspapers, magazines, websites, radio and television. When I have to complete visa papers at the border of some countries I always say that I am a photographer, since admitting to being a journalist can sometimes get you hauled over for lengthy questioning and restrictions. Photographers have an easier time at customs plus it helps explain all the camera gear I usually haul around.
I have started lots of companies so I can call myself an entrepreneur. On other occasions I am a writer selling copy to the highest bidder whether that be in books or articles or even hack work when I need to pay the bills. I can also say that I am a magazine editor, newspaper publisher, designer, web developer, audio editor, videographer and project manager. Some time ago I started describing myself as a content producer since it seemed to capture all the different aspects of the media work that I do. But I dropped the title. It sounds antiseptic and most people don’t know what I mean by content.
Lately I’m drawn to the word storyteller. It seems to capture most of what I’ve done over the last 30+ years. No matter what platform I’m working for (print, radio, TV, web) everything I’m creating is a story, something that informs, entertains, provokes, enrages, delights and comforts us. Stories are the currency people like me mint and we exchange those commodities for portions of your time.
Over the years I’ve chased many, many stories:
- I once told the story to magazine readers of the world’s largest caribou herd and its annual migration across northern Québec and Labrador.
- When producing a radio documentary I faced withering criticism to tell the story of how mentally handicapped sheltered workshop ‘employees’ were being exploited.
- In an operating room I peered into the body cavity of a women getting a kidney for a magazine story on how the transplant saved her life.
- Video news packages I shot and edited in Mozambique helped charities in the UK raise an extra £500,000 for flood relief.
- I used words and photos to tell the story of a man missing one foot and his melon cart after a tsunami hit his village in Sri Lanka.
- I’ve covered the story of a kids hostel in rural Burma in a video package where village teens have a chance to finish school.
- I captured the story of relief efforts in Bangladesh after the devastation of Cyclone Sidr for a radio piece
- I’ve shot the story of abandonment and desolation in southern Saskatchewan in a photo essay.
So that’s where I’m leaving it right now. I am a storyteller no matter who asks… unless officials at the border of cranky countries want to know, in which case I’m a photographer.