San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

The TT Set the Standard

My year at The Tico Times, 1992-1993, coincided with a complete life transition from punk to salsera, from music critic to journalist, and rockily out of singlehood. And boy did I learn a lot.

The Tico Times set the standard for me for ethics and for careful, aggressive reporting. While I was there, Peter Brennan produced the fantastic series on teak investment scams in Costa Rica, which was a brave and fascinating piece. The Tico Times was never scared to take on the big guys.

I try to model my own news-planning meetings with my staff I m now senior correspondent for Reuters in Chile on the great weekly planning meetings run by Dery. What a wealth of ideas and projects would come out of the reporters.

Kurt Aguilar and Cathryn Domrose, Catalina Calderón, John McPhaul, Brian Harris, Maria Sacchetti, Peter Brennan and others I worked with at The Tico Times or met during my time there, have become life-long friends.

A few years ago some of us had a wonderful reunion at the Aguilar-Domrose home in San Francisco, and there was a belly laugh a minute as we reminisced.

My favorite reporting memory is an interview with then Minister of Natural Resources Hernán Bravo. The government had denied reports and complaints that a tourism project on the Caribbean coast was violating environmental laws. I hiked up the hill from the Tico to his office, and showed him maps that proved the hotel being built was partly overlapping both a nature reserve AND an indigenous reserve.

His immortal answer: Mirá, que vacilón. And the great thing: we ran it as a headline. Who else but the Tico would have dared?

Fiona Martin Ortiz

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