Behind-the-scenes
Inside the Investigation: On Sources, Confidentiality, & Process
I’ve been doing research on Guatemalan adoptions since 2008, which grants me the privilege of having relationships with my sources that are based on trust built from repeated interviews, informal conversations, and interactions. Initially, I began general reporting on Guatemalan adoptions for my Master’s thesis at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in fall 2008, where I was a Fellow at the Stabile Center for Investigative Reporting. After my thesis was awarded Honors, I graduated in 2009 and decided to continue my research in order to write “Finding Fernanda,” which will be published this October. Over the past three years,...
Trauma Reporting 101
This photo was taken in August 2010, during one of my many interviews with one of the main characters in “Finding Fernanda,” Fernanda’s mother Mildred Alvarado. At the time, Mildred lived in Villa Nueva, the second largest city in Guatemala, about thirty minutes outside the capital. The little girl in the picture is her youngest daughter, Adriana. My conversations with Mildred (always done with a translator, for accuracy) were slow and tended to run for hours. We were taking a break when I shot this image. To me, it looks as if baby Adriana is thinking, “Why are you making my mother...
Journalists in training?
Fernanda, hard at work During one of my many interviews with Mildred Alvarado, her small daughters Fernanda and Ana Cristina sat alongside me. I gave  Fernanda (age six) and Ana Cristina (age three) each a blank notebook page. All three of us scribbled, more or less, as Mildred spoke. Ana Cristina made some squiggly lines. Fernanda was a dedicated artists, drawing pictures of watermelons, churches, family members, and vegetables. Ana Cristina mostly scribbled. For my part, I jotted down points to clarify in later conversations with Mildred. I think Fernanda’s notes were the most interesting!  ...
Victory! A complete manuscript!
I just finished writing the last three pages of “Finding Fernanda,” at Café Zachary in Oakland, California. Neko Case is playing in the background. I’m so happy that I almost just started crying into my coffee!...
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