BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA — The article, without a doubt, took the longest of any in my life. I had the most trip-ups, but at the same time the result comes closest to the goal I set for myself when I began to work at Global Press: to show the world another face of my country.
Stories about mineral extraction in Latin America tend to be similar. A wealthy, often foreign company takes more riches from the earth than does the poor village that exists there and the state either helps the company or does nothing.
I didn’t want to write that story.
I looked for something different and learned about communities in the Salinas Grandes region that created their own system to decide how their land is used.
A Global Press colleague traveled with me to Jujuy and Salta provinces. It was the first time I’d gone so far, about 1,500 kilometers (932 miles), to cover a story. There, we had the luxury of speaking face to face with people connected to the story and we traveled with them around the land they seek to protect.
The article was nearly finished when an editor alerted me that a major news outlet just published something on the subject. My first reaction was that if journalists from a well-regarded organization wrote the same story and published it before me, my story wouldn’t have news value.
But I was wrong. The article wasn’t like the one I’d written. In fact, it was, yet again, a story about a poor Latin American village that couldn’t protect itself from a rich foreign company.
My story is the opposite. Just a few miles from where the other news organization’s reporter did his work, I had found something completely different, something that my editors say even calls into question the accuracy of the other story because it missed such a major facet of how communities in that area resist mining companies. The people I spoke with had done something that nobody expected them to try.
At Global Press, I’m trying to do the same.
Rishi Khalsa, GPJ, translated this blog from Spanish.