Argentina: “It Was The First Time I’d Gone So Far To Cover A Story”

March 19, 2017

GPJ-ArgentinaBUENOS 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.

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Global Press reporter Lucila Pellettieri (right) interviewing a source for her story on lithium extraction while in El Moreno, a community in Argentina’s northern Jujuy province in late 2016. Photo by Dina Gonzalez.

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.