Keeping people at the heart of the conflict in charge
Lia Valero is works as a journalist in Colombia. Her goal is to show the complexity of the conflict in Colombia, amplifying the voices of both the survivors and local leaders who struggle to build peace in their communities and whose lives are often at risk.
Her aim is to show the reality of life in Colombia through a myriad of local stories and perspectives. As an on-the-ground reporter covering all topics related to the armed conflict, her job requires expanding a database of massacres, in-depth reporting and research on post-conflict dynamics. She creates multimedia content and ensures that all relevant data is passed on to the local community so they have the means to produce stories on their own.
The challenge is to do this in an inclusive and honest, straightforward way, balancing the documented information with the narrative of the victims and creating awareness of the needs and challenges to overcome the conflict. She makes every effort that her stories will not be used to manipulate or to victimize people.
What’s happening now?
She has worked for 3 years as part of the independent media organization Rutas del Conflicto, that provides investigation, transmedia and data mining about the conflict in Colombia. Formats mix written, audiovisual and online radio outputs. As part of her work, she also gives trainings in narrative techniques to help people share their personal stories from the conflict and how they are currently recovering their lives, as a way to participate in the construction of historic memory.
Her last big publication was “La Paz de abajo pa’ arriba” (Peace from bottom up), a special report that shows different visions on the desired peace in the regions of Colombia. The main goal was to raise awareness of citizen voices, social and political actors around the construction of peace her country. Her work shows the challenges for local leaders, why they are relevant to peace and how and how journalists should tell these stories from different perspectives.
Recently, she has been working on a project called “La Paz en 360º” (Peace in 360º) created by Dan Archer, the director of Empathetic Media, to provide a unique perspective on the Colombian conflict from the point of view of those who lived through it, using cinematic and computer-generated virtual reality. The primary focus of this project is the adaptation of survivor testimonies into a 360 video format with the eyewitnesses acting as narrators and guides to the locations where the stories took place. The project included training sessions on comics as a powerful alternative for sharing stories, for those without access to technology. Part of the result can be found here and at Graphic Voices webpage.
Lia Valero has worked for 3 years as part of the independent media organization Rutas del Conflicto (www.rutasdelconflicto.com). She is currently working as a freelancer for the Dutch media De Correspondent and is ambassador of Chicas Poderosas, a Latin American women’s organization focused on the cross-section between journalism, data work, programming, design & entrepreneurship.