Reporters on the Job

Tears and Hope: To report her story about the decline in Colombian kidnapping, staff writer Danna Harman went for a short visit to the Caracol radio station. Families were sending on-air messages to loved ones in captivity. "I arrived at about 11:30 p.m. and promised myself I would not stay too long because I needed to get up early the next day to cover the elections. But I stayed the entire night, leaving as the program ended and the sun came up."

"I found it impossible to tear myself away. I even read out two dedications [some people send in their messages by e-mail and they get read out loud]. The whole experience really moved me. These poor families, not having any word from the victims for years, and yet they call in wanting to believe that somehow they are going to be able to reach out with their voices and let them know they love them. It was extraordinarily touching."

Danna says she spent half the time tearing up. "Hoyos – the program host – kept half-heartedly scolding me and said that if everyone was crying all the time, it would do no good for anyone. I'm sure he is right."

The experience also gave Danna a different perspective on the May 28 presidential elections in Colombia. "While we – the foreign media – were covering Latin America's shift to the left, and spilling much ink over US-Colombia relations, many Colombians were going to the polls with one thing in mind: They did not want their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children, or grandparents snatched away from them and President Álvaro Uribe seemed the candidate who was going to fight hardest to ensure that."

– David Clark Scott

World editor

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