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Five questions with Jorge Barrera

Five questions with

Jorge Barrera, Guild member, APTN reporter, winner of the 2012 J-Source Newsperson of the Year Award

Jorge BarreraQ1: Congratulations on being named the 2012 J-Source Newsperson of the Year.  What does the Award mean to you? 

The award is a testament to the work that is done by all of us at APTN, the world we cover.  It happened because of our focus on Idle No More and on Indigenous issues, and it’s because of APTN that “I” and that “we” get to cover those issues. The recent nominations by two of my APTN colleagues for the 2012 CAJ awards confirms this, and it just goes to show you our bench strength.  The award is really about everyone who works at APTN.

Q2: As a reporter you’ve worked in different organizations, how is working at APTN similar and/or different from other places you’ve worked?

One big difference is that APTN is probably one of the freest newsrooms I’ve worked in. At APTN, the focus is : ”How are we going to cover the story”. Other newsrooms might be more interested in getting the story.  There are of course the usual similarities: deadline pressures, the chaos of gathering news, and so on.

Q3: What story you’ve covered stands out for you, from 2012? Of all time?

Covering Idle No More was incredible and phenomenal; just trying to keep up with such a surprising and phenomenal movement, that by the way, is still going on.

Akwesasne is another important story.  What a special place! It’s an incredible space in terms of border issues, jurisdictional questions, Mohawk sovereignty, obviously the historical connection with the Oka crisis. it’s multidimensional, yet it’s under-covered.  It tends to get covered in this one-dimensional way when there is much more – there is more to it than cigarette smuggling.

Q4: What’s the funniest or most entertaining  thing you’ve ever reported on?

I will tell you about the most joyful story I’ve ever covered: the Nishiyuu walkers.  There were the most joyful stories as the march was happening.  And just the way people were reacting to the marchers, and then how they were met when they arrived at Parliament Hill.  When the marchers arrived, I saw one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen: the crowd that had come to greet the marchers created a human pathway, parted like the red sea, for the marchers to walk through.  That moment  when the people created a path to greet the marchers was breathtaking, in terms of human experience.

Q5: In these times of deep cuts in the media, what are your thoughts about the place of investigative journalism?

It’s up to us as individual reporters to keep it important, to stop focusing so much on lack of resources, and dig inside for our own resources, if we believe in the necessity of investigative journalism for our communities and for our country.  We know that in so many countries this kind of work is done under much more difficult circumstances, and with much fewer resources.  So we need to make sure cost is not what’s stopping us from doing investigative work – time is the most important  resource.


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