Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Leaving Latin America

Media | Major U.S. newspapers are closing their South and Central American bureaus in droves

Issue: "Realities: 2011-2020," Jan. 15, 2011

When The New York Times sent Juan Forero to open its bureau in Colombia in 2000, he was one of many American newspaper correspondents based in Latin America.

Forero, 47, remembers that Colombia alone had correspondents from the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The Miami Herald, and The Dallas Morning News. Today, The New York Times no longer has a Colombia bureau. The Los Angeles Times has put its former full-time Bogotá bureau chief on a freelance contract. The Washington Post, where Forero has worked since 2006, downgraded its bureau to a part-time operation. The remaining publications, except for The Miami Herald-expected to reopen its Bogotá office soon-have abandoned the country. (The Herald has closed its bureaus in Mexico, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Brazil.)

Newsday, Cox Newspapers, The Baltimore Sun, and The Chicago Tribune Company have completely left Latin America and closed all their foreign bureaus worldwide. The New York Times attempts to cover all of Latin America and the Caribbean with three reporters based in Mexico, one in Venezuela, and one in Brazil. The Washington Post has only one full-time bureau, based in Mexico, for the whole region. It used to have bureaus in Brazil and Argentina.

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This doesn't mean that news from Latin America is unavailable. U.S. wire news services like Associated Press, Dow Jones, and Bloomberg News still maintain a significant presence. Global Post, an American online news service that launched last year, has nine regular writers and multimedia producers in seven Latin American countries. Global intelligence services like Stratfor (Strategic Forecasting, Inc.; see "The mule and the lamb") offer subscriptions. But the era of big newspapers with expensive news bureaus throughout the world is largely over.
-Mariana Cristancho-Ahn is a student at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Mariana Cristancho-Ahn
Mariana Cristancho-Ahn


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