Kicking off in January with the CELAC EU summit in Santiago, Chile and ending with the World Cup Draw in Costa do Sauipe, Brazil and with all kinds of wild, wonderful and poignant events in between 2013 has been quite a year, from start to finish.
One of the most emotionally charged stories I covered this year was also one of the first; the anniversary of what has become known in Argentina as the ‘Once’ tragedy. In January, on the first anniversary of the train crash disaster in which 51 people died, families of the victims held a very emotional commemoration at the site of the crash in remembrance of their loved ones and calling on ‘justicia‘ (justice) from the national authorities. To mark the exact moment of the crash, one year on, they played an audio recording of the moment of the tragedy, the emotion was palpable sadness: The coverage justifiably got a lot of coverage by international broadcasters.
February saw a trip to neighbouring Paraguay to do an indepth report for the brilliant media outlet: GlobalPost on the more insalubrious side of the country’s agricultural boom
March then saw another outlandish journey, returning to the Falklands or Malvinas Islands for the second consecutive year, this time to cover the historic referendum on the future political status of the long politicized archipelago
http://www.paulbyrne.com/political/falkland-islanders-vote-overwhelmingly-in-favour-of-remaining-british-rte-radio/ live from Port Stanley on Irish RTE Radio 1’s flagship morning programme just hours after the release of the referendum results.
I also capitalized on the visit to produce a radio feature for the same broadcaster on the story of two Irish men that were on opposite sides of 1982’s South Atlantic conflict
Of course as is the nature of news, synonymous events happen with little advance notice and sometimes at the most inopportune moments. Such was the case, for me at least, following 2013’s big news from the Vatican. During my week on the islands the white smoke went up announcing Cardinal Jorge Borgoglio of Buenos Aires as the new head of the catholic church and successor to Pope Benedict. There was an outpouring of reaction from the new pontiffs home city, the Argentine capital and I was immediately called up by a raft of international media for coverage and reaction…BUT when on the Falklands or Las Malvinas, there is one flight, once a week, so I had to hold off for 3 days until I got back to base and readied myself to report on the hometown celebrations, the background of Pope Francis and some of the more unusual effects of the papal announcement.
My involvement in covering Pope Francis, didn’t end there, just a couple of months later I was back on his trail, this time chasing the Pope mobile around Rio de Janeiro as the pontiff made his first overseas visit, to Brazil as part of the International Youth Day events. Despite the symbolizm of Pope Francis’s first trip being back to his home continuent it wasn’t all what you might imagine, on the night of his arrival our AP coverage documented how ongoing social unease in Brazil lead to an unexpected welcome to the carnival city. However, as his week long trip continued, the positivity surrounding the papal visit became the overriding story and culminated in a Sunday mass on one of the world’s most famous beaches attended by over 3 million people. My early morning report, on the pilgirms rousing from a night long vigil leading up to the historic event went out around the world including this broadcast which lead SKY News.
One of the more unusual pieces I got to work on in June was a cross media feature for AP on the Argentine Atlantis; the town that once was, disappeared under water and is now re-emerging as an attraction but in a very different form. It was also the story that I worked on for AP this year that got the most international difussion: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/10/epecuen-argentine-town-photos_n_3252049.html http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-22492104
Another quirky story that I worked on later in the year was the unusual event in Buenos Aires of an environmental activist marrying a ….tree.
I put some thoughts on the production of the story and its ensuing diffusion by the international media, comparing it to another very significant story I had subsequently finished as part of a full AP team. Here’s the gist: ‘What Makes News’
As I approached the year end I had the chance to work on another emotionally charged story but this time, a theme brimming in hope and inspiration. A cross media feature I wrote and produced for the AP about a beauty therapy project encouraging cancer patients in Argentina to look in the mirror as a way of tackling what for many is “the fight of their lives” Look Good, Feel Better
This story was also the very positive result of a new endeavour I am establishing with a group of freelancers in Argentina and the region, basically building a team of top notch professionals, encompassing journalists, technicians and hybrids of all the above, so that we can as a team or individually generate, share and work interdependently on a growing number of media projects that are coming to our inboxes. This is something that I have plans to significantly develop in 2014.
A few other trips thrown in along the way, including my first time to Suriname to cover a UNASUR (South America’s more ‘hit and miss’ version of the EU) saw me rounding out the year back in Brazil for the draw for next years Football World cup.
And well this is a good ending point for 2013 and starting point for a 2014 that already looks set to be centred around the upcoming world cup, I am already set to spend 6 weeks in Brazil for the event.
After 5 years now based in Latin America, I feel this year was one of the most significant in my work as a video journalist. My mission of looking for more innovative ways to cover Latin American news events and daily issues and bring a more interpretative snapshot of the region to a global audience took a serious step forward.
RIGHT NOW I AM RELOADING BACK IN MY NATIVE IRELAND FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS HOLIDAYS BEFORE I RETURN TO ARGENTINA ON DECEMBER 31ST AND THE ONSET OF A BIG 2014
…see more at: paulbyrne.com