Journalism in Galápagos: a USC Professor’s Perspective

Enrique Ramos (L), publishe of El Colono, confers with USC journalism professor Judy Muller (R)

George Lewis-Galápagos Digital

Enrique Ramos (L), editor and publisher of El Colono, confers with USC journalism professor Judy Muller (R)

On our most recent trip to Galápagos, we had a wonderful traveling companion in Judy Muller, a journalism professor at the University of Southern California and a dear friend.  Judy, a former ABC News correspondent, wrote a book, Emus Loose in Egnar, about how, at a time when traditional media in big cities are struggling, small-town newspapers are doing quite well, thank you.  (The book’s title is taken from an actual headline in one of those small-town papers.)

Because of her interest in how local media can make a big difference in small communities, she was fascinated by the state of journalism in Galápagos.  In a story she wrote for USC’s Online Journalism Review, linked here, she says it’s a case of “hyper-local” meets “hyper-sensitive.”

Newspapers in small towns tend to be “hyper-local” because the people living there can’t get news about their communities anywhere else.  And the world is “hyper-sensitive” about Galápagos because people regard it as one of the most fragile, precious parts of the planet.

And so, the Galápagos media chronicle the struggle among the various stakeholders on the islands–the residents, the fishermen, the environmentalists, people in the tourist industry, the government.  The challenge for the media outlets is to try to make sense of events for their readers and listeners in a way that is fair to all these competing interests.

We staged a workshop for local journalists in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, where we exchanged ideas and we all learned a few things in the process.  We also met with communications people at the Galapagos National Park to talk about how they can extend their information efforts via social media. We hope to continue working the park and with local outlets like the newspaper El Colono and the broadcaster Radio Encantada to help further the cause of good journalism in Galápagos.