Through My Eyes
By Glenda Ortega

Recent days have been crazy times in the United States: terrorism in Boston, explosions in Texas, storms and tornadoes in Columbia, Mo, and serious mistakes by the media.

Living here in Missouri, I can understand the feelings and perceptions about terrorism that some American friends have told me about. Terrorism is a word that people are afraid of; it’s a very sensitive topic in the U.S. In Ecuador, even the journalists seemed not to understand the real situation here, and I am not talking about government policy, but about the real citizens.

And the event in Boston illustrated that the journalists still have a lot to learn about accuracy. Reporters of CNN and Reuters gave inaccurate reports about the Boston tragedy. Those reports teach us a lesson.

During the last week, social media – Twitter and Facebook – has been the most useful way to get the news. Someone told me: we need the print media to avoid inaccuracy. Nowadays, everybody wants to be the first to get the information, but the verification is still the best way for being a good journalist.

But there is also good news. Seven journalists from South Korea came to the University of Missouri last week to be trained. They learned about using multiple sources, ethic, writing basics, etc. For many of them, this was their first international trip. They escaped from North Korea many years ago because they were looking for freedom and a better life. Crossing the border meant leaving their families and also risking their lives.

In North Korea, they just had ‘propaganda’ – they didn’t know what was happening in the world. Things that for us are very common, they have never heard of before. They grew up all their whole lives with only one point of view, without free information and under many restrictions. I was very surprised by the power of their human instinct. Listening to those stories made me feel very lucky to have grown up in a free country.

Walking on the Mizzou campus is a multicultural experience in itself, and I am really enjoying it. It’s a good place to meet people from different parts of the world. This week I met Olga Arara-Kimani, part of the Nation Media Group of East Africa. In the Nation Media Group, 70% of the journalists don’t have a journalism degree. For this reason that media group is interested in training its journalists in Kenya and abroad, she told me.

In Ecuador the Assembly is going to discuss the Communication Law in the next months. One of the polemical points of the discussion is about the practice of journalism. If the law passes, a journalism degree would be one the requirements for hiring journalists.

In Ecuador we don’t need a law to regulate the journalism. We need stronger newsrooms and better schools of journalism. The journalists need more training, and the media organizations have to invest in it as well. I didn’t want to sit and wait until the media organizations decide to do it; for this reason, here I am.