Getting hands on with journalism in Ecuador makes experience more meaningful

Members of the multimedia team, Sarah Horne and Mitchell Cook, along with Maria Modayil, edit videos and write stories in the lobby of the Hotel Bermeo Plaza in Cariamanga Ecuador, Thursday, June 28, 2018.

As a professor, usually I like to leave the writing and content production up to my students. They need to learn. I’ve already had my chance. However, in Ecuador, I decided to be much more hands on. In one sense, I felt I had to. There’s so much to cover here and we don’t have a huge team to do it.

No matter the reason, however, I’ve extremely glad I did. I got to feel the adrenaline of being a reporter again, and I think I got a much different view of Ecuador, Cariamanga and the nearby communities than if I had just observed the students. I really got to feel and experience the challenges the people of the communities face and the struggle many are undertaking on their behalf to improve their health and their happiness.

Right now, for example, the multimedia group has pulled furniture from my hotel room suite and set up a makeshift newsroom in the lobby. That’s where the strongest wifi signals are. We stayed back today to try to get some stories finished, some videos edited, and some web exclusives posted. It has been a challenge because we are usually up with the crack of dawn and home late after dinner. Even if we do have time, we are usually so tired after clomping through the mountain communities of Guara, Chaquizcha, and Bellamaria that all we want to do is sleep.

But the effort has been worth it because the stories are so compelling. I’ve met kids who’ve happily engaged with the “gringo gordo.” I’ve seen health ministers, researchers, and volunteers from all over the country descend here to tote heavy metal insecticide spray cans miles up hill and down because they sincerely want to help. I’ve seen others give up their time in the classroom or at home to make a difference in a few people’s lives.

I hope the stories and videos we will present over the next few weeks and months do justice to the experience I’ve witnessed here because it has truly been life-changing.



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