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Nieman Foundation, April 12, 2019, Steve Almond - writing class. Lisa Abitbol


Knight Latin American Nieman Fellows


Elaine Díaz Rodríguez, NF ’15
My Nieman year helped me to find my true vocation. When I applied for this fellowship, I was obsessed with the necessity of increasing Internet access in Cuba. I had spent most of my life in a country deeply polarized, where no communication was allowed between families living in both sides of the Straits of Florida, not even letters. But for more than five years, my blog has been a channel of communication between Cuban people living all over the world, and my posts have been a way to spark debate about thousands of different topics. After taking classes at Harvard and spending a lot of time with the rest of the Nieman fellows and staff, I understand that my passion is not for the Internet as a technology, but as a way of communication. I now realize that I will devote my entire life to building bridges — not physical but virtual bridges – bridges made with bytes instead of cement and concrete. I could not have recognized that without the Nieman Fellowship.
Elaine Díaz Rodríguez is the first Nieman Fellow from Cuba. A journalist, blogger and the sole Cuban author for Global Voices Online, she also has launched a new website, “Periodismo de Barrio” (Barrio Journalism), to share lessons learned during her Nieman Fellowship.
Miguel Paz, NF ’15
The Nieman Fellowship has given me the time and space I needed to reflect on my goals as a journalist, to pursue new endeavors and contribute to a better quality news ecosystem in Latin America. The way the fellowship is organized allowed me to experiment and do applied research in a multidisciplinary way, while building networks of trust and friendship among fellows, scholars and entrepreneurs. The diversity of backgrounds, gender, race and fields of work within the group of fellows has opened my eyes to new ideas and it’s been interesting to move beyond my comfort zone. Ann Marie Lipinski and the Nieman staff’s ability to nurture an open space for community and deep thought has been beyond amazing. I leave with new powerful tools and ideas for the future.
Miguel Paz is a Chilean journalist, former Knight ICFJ Fellow and president of the Poderomedia Foundation, an organization that promotes the use of new technologies to rethink journalism and foster transparency and digital innovation in Latin American news organizations. He also is the founder and CEO of, a data journalism platform that maps who’s who in business and politics in the region.
Carlos Eduardo Huertas, NF ’12
Harvard is a universe in which you discover something new every day, whether through chatting with a classmate who comes from the other side of the world, in intense intellectual debates in the classrooms, or exploring the far reaches of the seemingly endless campus. It is a place where impossibilities — such as those facing journalism today — give way to possibilities, inviting the students to explore and work hard to support these ideas.
Huertas is an investigations editor at Revista Semana in Colombia and founder of Consejo de Redacción, a professional association that promotes investigative journalism. He conducted Knight-supported fieldwork at the end of his Nieman Fellowship that helped him create Connectas, a journalism consortium that produces transnational investigations about Latin America.
Claudia Méndez Arriaza, NF ’12
My website “Una vida es una vida” records and maps statistics about the victims of homicides in Guatemala City with the goal of showing that all of them matter: Each victim had a name, an age, an occupation… a face. The great and immediate challenge moving forward is to find a practical way to record the response from the judicial system to every crime. The culture of working with data and gaining free access to information is still new in Guatemala. There is a new law that allows access to information, but public officers are still not used to – or willing to – open all the sources of information. It’s fair to say, too, that journalists are not exploiting the full potential of the new law. But the belief is that the more it is used, the stronger the culture of free access to information will become.
Méndez Arriaza is a Guatemalan journalist who conducted a two-month Knight-funded fieldwork project at the end of her Nieman Fellowship to create (A Life is a Life), a website designed to track murder statistics in Guatemala City.
Pablo Corral Vega, NF ’11
I never imagined the Nieman experience would be so intense and profound. I knew I was coming to Harvard, a global hub of knowledge and research, but I didn’t realize that the people I met here would change my way of seeing and approaching the world. As journalists, we are prisoners of our reality, bound to our histories, to the issues we think we know. The Nieman year allows us to pause and imagine other worlds, to interact with people and areas of knowledge that we would never come across in other circumstances. The Nieman experience is transformative and revelatory.
Corral is an Ecuadorean photojournalist, artist and lawyer. He is the founder and director of, the largest network of Latin American photojournalists. His work has been exhibited internationally and he has published numerous books of photography.
Hollman Morris Rincón, NF ’11
I have had the honor of being invited by several professors to give short talks on journalism, human rights, and the role of journalism in preserving memory and giving voice to the voiceless. In short, I have had a chance to speak to interested listeners about what is, in fact, my passion and to know that it finds a receptive, respectful, and supportive audience among a special group of academics. These experiences lend credence to what I have been told by a dozen or more Nieman Fellows whom I have met in Cambridge and by others around the world: “You will never forget your year as a Nieman.”
Morris is a Colombian television producer and director recognized internationally for his coverage of armed conflict and paramilitary groups in his country. His work focuses on human rights, peace agreements and freedom of the press.
Alejandra Matus, NF ’10
The Nieman Foundation offered us a rich program that, by itself, provided a rewarding year. I yearned for every Wednesday seminar, wondering how I would be surprised. We listened to great thinkers and doers from the fields of science, journalism, the arts and politics. I never left the room feeling distracted or preoccupied. The issues we discussed every Wednesday kept me thinking for days, weeks and months.
Matus is a Chilean journalist and author whose latest book “Doña Lucia,” an unauthorized biography of General Augusto Pinochet’s widow Lucia Hiriart, was published in November 2014.
Boris Muñoz, NF ’10
It is a curious fact that the Nieman year lasts only nine months. I know the reason for this is the academic calendar, but the analogy with the cycle of pregnancy fascinates me. Nine months is the period of time an embryo takes to develop into a complete new human being. In our case, nine months is the time that was given to us to break away from our routines, develop in Harvard’s womb, and reinvent ourselves.
Muñoz is a Venezuelan journalist and author. He previously was editor-in-chief of Exceso magazine and now contributes regularly to magazines and Web-supported media in Latin America.