Monday, September 13, 2010

Alma Guillermoprieto > Journalist.


Alma Guillermoprieto, Journalist, International Women’s Media Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.


Being Hispanic, does it have any influence on your business?
I’m a Latin American, working for U.S. media. It has often been hard to explain to a U.S. audience that their interests don’t necessarily coincide with ours. But I’ve been very lucky in that the magazines I write for have been unconditionally supportive.


In the face of adversity, how do you decide to keep going?
I remind myself that airplane pilots can’t just say, mid-flight: “Well, I’m bored now, I think I’ll just let this plane drop and go home.”


What is the biggest challenge you have faced?
My daily challenge, as a free-lancer, is to invent my life from scratch every morning. What should I write about today? Why? Who for? How should I report it? Do I dare check my bank balance?
If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
I’d like there to be three of me: one to live, one to read, one to answer email.


What was your childhood ambition?
To be on stage.


Tell us about three people that you admire?
My “adopted” grandmother Pitila, my “adopted” mother Adda, my neighbor down the street, Doña Margarita: I carry grudges; they have the gift of forgiveness. I sacrifice others for my work; they think everyone around them is more important than they are. They give loving support to everyone around them, and thank life every day for the gift of joy.

For meetings: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
Breakfast. I enjoy food to much to spoil a good meal by doing business.

What sacrifices on your personal life did you have to make in order to become a business success?
I WISH I were a business success!! But I’m at the polar extreme of that.

What is your favorite quote?
When the then-editor of the New Yorker, Bob Gottlieb, offered me a staff position, I said I was thinking of moving to Moscow to study Russian. He said: “Just because you’re doing something, and doing it well, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.” I repeat that to my women students at workshops and universities, and their eyes always well up.


Is it difficult to be unconventional?
It would be much more difficult to try to be conventional.


Biggest mistake made?
Not taking voice lessons. I would have been such a great cabaret singer! The serious part of that: it’s always a mistake not to take the toughest risk.


Do you consider yourself an innovator? Why?
To a degree, yes. I have tried to talk about Latin America to a U.S. audience from a Latin American point of view, and I hope to have had some small degree of success in that.


About Alma Guillermoprieto:
Alma Guillermoprieto, 60, a Mexican journalist whose articles have illuminated Latin America for her readers. A contributor to the British-based Guardian newspaper, The Washington Post, The New York Review of Books, Newsweek and The New Yorker, she has covered Argentina’s “dirty war,” post-Sandinista Nicaragua, the “Shining Path” rebels in Peru, the Colombian civil war and the Mexican drug wars. In 1982, she was one of only two reporters to investigate rumors of mass killings perpetrated by the U.S.-supported Salvadoran army in El Mozote, El Salvador. When she published her reports in The Washington Post, the Reagan Administration tried to discredit her, but she stood firm. Eventually, the U.S. government was forced to confirm her story.


The IWMF Courage in Journalism Awards honor women journalists who have shown extraordinary strength of character and integrity while reporting the news under dangerous or difficult circumstances. The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a woman journalist who has a pioneering spirit and whose determination has paved the way for women in the news media.

International Women’s Media Foundation is celebrating its 20th anniversary year.

Mrs. Guillermoprieto will be receiving the Life Time Achievement Award in NYC October 19th and in Los Angeles on October 21.

For further information please visit:  http://www.iwmf.org/

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