As US newsroom budgets shrink, and overseas correspondents are recalled or let go, Round Earth’s ability to get US reporters into the field to bring little-known stories to American audiences is increasingly urgent.
More surprising is the fact that we perform a similar role in the very countries we are report on. Francisco Rodriguez de Leon, a features editor at Guatemala’s El Periodico, recently finished reporting on several issues for Round Earth Media, including the link between school attendance and migration, refugees of rural machismo, and the phenomenon of huge manions built with remittances by absentee owners, even as their families suffer hunger.
All those stories have been enthusiastically accepted by a newspaper in the US keen to broaden its reporting on migration, but Francisco’s outlet is just as excited. “Surely all of this is well-known by Guatemalans” I asked Francisco when he returned to the field. “I mean, the mansions, for example, are so big you can’t miss them.” But he pointed out that many of these stories take place in remote, inaccessible regions of Guatemala. He and his reporting partner Giovanna dell’Orto were mud-caked on their return from days of dirt-track driving across the country.
The paper simply can’t maintain reporters in all of these place. “Mostly what our readers’ get is what is happening in Guatemala City,” he said. These stories, he said, were exciting precisely because they were new for a Guatemalan audience.
— Conrad Fox