One journalist's musings about the beautiful, bizarre world in which we live
Sorry, loyal followers. Over the past few weeks I have been neglectful of my blog.
Now I’m sitting here on this hot, sunny Buenos Aires afternoon with peaches and beer, and I have no more excuses not to write to you.
* * *
Since we last spoke, a lot has happened.
On my last day in La Paz, I visited the office of Página Siete, one of many (eight, at my last count) Bolivian national daily newspapers. I interviewed its editor-in-chief, Raúl Peñaranda Undurraga, who has an impressive résumé with such entries as “first Bolivian to obtain a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University.” He started the newspaper up a few years ago, and has been working to make it the leading Bolivian news source on the internet, as well.
I posted the Spanish interview here with the company I’m working for, ScribbleLive.
I’ll translate a couple of the highlights for you.
I noted a case of a journalist who was verbally threatened recently, and asked if the internet made it easier to be a journalist in Bolivia. Here’s his response:
“I’m not that sure that it’s that difficult to do journalism in Bolivia, in the first place. I’m not that sure of that. In all cases, it’s much more difficult in Mexico. It’s much more difficult in Colombia. It’s more difficult in Venezuela. It’s more difficult in Honduras. It’s more difficult in Guatemala.
“I don’t see that we journalists are at risk. At any rate, I don’t know of any case where a Bolivian journalist that was attacked or threatened physically, et cetera. There are verbal threats – verbal attacks from the government – but that is something that I consider is normal.”
After, I asked what some of the biggest differences are between journalism in the US and journalism in Bolivia. After noting the sheer volume produced in the US, he said this:
“We [in Bolivia] have a great diversity in media. We have media from the right. We have media from the left. We have radio stations of all sides. We have little weeklies. Et cetera. For a country as small as Bolivia – 10 million people – and as poor as Bolivia, our media system is very diverse, it’s very vital, it’s very pluralist, it’s very valient. And I think that in the end despite excesses, mistakes, problems and everything we could mention – in the end, together, journalists do a decent job.”
I really enjoyed doing this interview. It interests me, what media and journalists are doing in other countries.
* * *
The day after this interview, I flew into Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Here, I’m “working” at the Argentina Independent (a.k.a. “interning,” though at this stage in my career I hate using that word).
So why would I choose to do this?
I want to learn more about Latin America, and I feel there really is no better way to do that than as a journalist. I also wanted to spend some time back at an independent newspaper, and there are few enough that can afford to pay reporters in the corporate media world.
We interns started this week off with quick lessons on the history, politics and economics of Argentina.
Earlier this week on Facebook, I noted, “Every day I’m amazed at how ignorant I was the day before.”
We also learned about Rodolfo Walsh.
After learning about the junta, the massacre, the deaths and the silence that occurred (and still occur) here in Argentina, I felt weak.
* * *
I called this post “Peaches and beer” for a couple of reasons.
That’s what I’m eating and drinking at the moment. When I sat down at my desk, I thought, “Look at the ambrosia which life has given me. What in the world did I, a lazy jerk, do to deserve this?”
The peaches and beer also remind me of my alone-ness. By myself, I enjoy them. As lovely as Buenos Aires is, I’m on my own. Certainly, there are new people to be met, adventures to be had and stories to write. But I’ve forgone family and friends by moving to yet another new place.
Is it worth it?
* * *
Too much thinking. Perhaps I’ll move onto mate now.