Published: Sunday, January 7, 2001
EARL MAUCKER EDITOR
As we announced on our front page this morning, we officially open our news bureau in Havana, Cuba, this week and have named Vanessa Bauza as our first full-time correspondent to be stationed there.
We are very excited to have a permanent presence in Cuba. As expected, it has generated some controversy from some groups who question our intentions and our ability to provide fair and balanced coverage from the island.
We're convinced we can.
We do expect it to be a challenging experience. This is the Sun-Sentinel's first foreign bureau and the circumstances there -- and here in South Florida -- promise to make the assignment quite extraordinary.
But there is so much more to the story of Cuba than political and economic turmoil. Cuba is playing an increasingly larger role in Latin America. It will continue to have a major impact on immigration, trade, culture, music and tourism.
We are confident we can bring honest journalism to our readers and we feel we've selected a very strong correspondent to lead our efforts there.
Vanessa was born in Puerto Rico and lived there until she went to Yale University, where she majored in history. In September 1994, she won a Fulbright Scholarship and traveled to Barcelona and Palma de Majorca, Spain, to conduct research on the Majorcan emigration to Puerto Rico.
She joined the Sun-Sentinel in September 1996 as an intern in our Palm Beach County operation. Less than a year later, she joined us full time, working in our South Broward County office as a beat reporter. She later transferred to our Fort Lauderdale office to cover multicultural issues.
She also has worked extensively in our Miami bureau and was a principal reporter covering Elian Gonzalez last year. She was a finalist for a Livingston Award for stories she filed from Cuba during the Elian saga.
She has traveled to Cuba numerous times and has been deeply involved with setting up our bureau.
Our office there is a joint effort among Tribune Co. newspapers, which include the Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant, Baltimore Sun and Newsday. The Sun-Sentinel plans a full-time, year-round presence in Cuba; the other newspapers will be rotating journalists in and out.
The broadcast side of our business also will have a presence there and Vanessa will be working with them as well.
She has a unique perspective and plans a very realistic approach to covering the news in Cuba.
"So often the news from Cuba is centered on the island's latest political and economic predicaments. Now, in addition to the news, we'll be able to write about the people behind the policies and politics -- to draw out their fears, their hopes and desires," she said.
Such direct reporting from Cuba that we can now do is not possible for other local news media serving South Florida readers.
"Too often we have had to rely on other sources -- the Cuban government, the exile community and academics," she said. "The Sun-Sentinel now has direct access to the people themselves and we can let them tell us how they feel about the events that shape their lives."
We also plan to use the bureau in Havana as a headquarters to explore the rest of the island, which we so rarely hear about.
As I noted in an earlier column on this topic, our purpose in Cuba will not be to make friends or enemies, but to exercise our judgment as a free and independent press.
We're thrilled with this opportunity and, as always, believe the biggest beneficiaries of this venture are our readers.
Copyright 2001, SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL