Category: Journalism of the Americas

New Journalists for a New World

I received a surprising phone call one day in late 1993, when I was the director of Telecaribe, a public television channel in Barranquilla, Colombia. The caller was none other than Gabriel García Márquez. “Will you invite me to dinner?” he asked me. “Of course, Gabito,” I…

Latin American Nieman Fellows

A few days after I arrived at Harvard in August 2000 to begin my work as curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Tim Golden, an investigative reporter for the New York Times in Latin America, phoned me. “Could I find a place in the new Nieman class for a Colombian…

Freedom of Expression in Latin America

In June 1997, Chile’s Supreme Court upheld a ban on the film “The Last Temptation of Christ,” based on a Pinochet-era provision of the country’s constitution. Four years later, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights heard a challenge to this ban and issued a very different…

Making a Difference: Inheritors of History

The two sandal-clad ten-year-old girls in bobbing ponytails might have been tourists or children on a school excursion. Instead, these enthusiastic youths were explaining the background of the Fragile Memories: Archaeology and Community, Copán, Honduras 1891-1900…

Juárez in the Shadows

It is ten minutes before midnight; I’ve already reported on ten crimes in fewer than six hours. Today, fifteen people have died. To remember the exact number of muertitos—little dead people, in the very particular journalistic jargon of Ciudad Juárez—I have to look at my notes…

Under Fire in Mexico

It was past midnight, in the first minutes of Tuesday, August 18, 2009, when my cell phone rang with a call from the newsroom of El Siglo de Torreón, the daily in Torreón, Mexico, where I work as editor-in-chief. I thought it was a routine call about a breaking story. In a way it…

Midnight in Mexico

More than 60 Mexican journalists have been murdered and dozens more have disappeared since 2000, more than 30 in the past four years.
Every journalist in Mexico—sometimes even I, an American journalist—wakes up to ask the following questions: How far should I go today…

Investigative Journalism

It was the end of the year 2006. Six years of intense effort to create a newspaper to break the duopoly of the written media in Chile were coming to a close. Diario Siete (Seven News), which I founded and directed together with one of the best journalist teams in the country…

El Faro

El Faro got its start as an online medium in San Salvador in 1998. El Salvador had just emerged from 12 years of a cruel civil war. The 1992 peace agreements, signed between a rightist government (and its army) and a leftist guerrilla force (the FMLN), marked a new beginning…

La Silla Vacía

In 2007, during my Nieman year at Harvard, I decided I wanted to start an interactive website, one that would probe Colombia’s power structures. As I started telling my colleagues about my idea, the most frequently asked question was, “What’s the business model?” I still…

Citizen Media

In October of 2009, my husband and I drove back down to Guatemala, the country of my birth, 3,118.5 miles, 53 hrs 1 minute of driving according to Bing maps, all the way from California. While I’d made similar drives with my mother, this time we weren’t headed down to…

Journalism in Paraguay

New technologies have started to play an important role in building a more participatory civic society in Paraguay. The Internet reached here in 1997, but even now only one in ten Paraguayans has access. The number of users is, however, increasing among the young. Some…

The Law as Censor

I was headed somewhere in a taxi with my 10-year-old daughter Sasha. It was a Saturday afternoon in September 2009, and we had just returned to Quito after a year at Harvard with a Nieman Fellowship. The taxi driver was listening to a speech by Ecuadoran President Rafael…

Beyond Intimidation and Exile

I wrote my first investigative story on a sturdy Olivetti typewriter, thoughts pounding into the paper with an irregular staccato that would slow down as night approached dawn. That was back in early 1982. I was a reporter at Peru’s Caretas, a weekly newsmagazine, already…

Silencing the Media

Citizens’ rights to be informed on issues of public interest are being undermined throughout Latin America, damaging the health of democracy across the region. Violence from powerful criminal syndicates, abuse of state resources by authoritarian governments, and…

What’s New in Latin American Journalism

From deep disappointment to exciting new times: if that were a good title, it would be the title of this story. Just three years ago, after spending 17 years as a political correspondent and columnist with major Buenos Aires newspapers, I took a break from Argentina’s media…

Covering the Region

Jonathan Kandell, a young reporter just a few years out of Columbia Journalism School, won the newspaperman’s lottery in 1972. The New York Times sent him to South America and, for the next five years, he lived in great style as a foreign correspondent based first in Buenos…

Journalism Training

When I was a young Brazilian journalist in Rio de Janeiro in the early 1970s, I answered the phone in the newsroom several times to hear an ominous voice announcing that he was a federal police agent calling to read out a notice. It was a censorship notification that invariably…

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