NPR reporter considers challenges of international reporting

By Proma Sen

National Public Radio reporter Martin Kaste spoke on “Luckless Argentines and their American cousins” in Kagin Commons Ballroom on Wednesday, Oct 24. In a lecture that contrasted his reporting experiences in Latin America with those of his reporting in the United States, Kaste spoke as part of Minnesota Public Radio’s Broadcast Journalist Series. Kaste, a Carleton College graduate, joined NPR full time in 2000 as a South America reporter. In January 2005, he moved from the Foreign Desk to the National Desk, to become the Pacific Northwest Reporter.
Using Argentina in the 1990s as a primary example, Kaste spoke on what he called the Latin American spirit of self-criticism.

A large crowd of both Macalester students and community members gathered to listen to his theory on why and how news reporters cover events that do not directly affect many of people who follow or read the story.

According to Kaste, reporters generally approach more remote stories two ways: they objectify the image of a third world country and further remove the issue at hand from the Western World, or they explain why the event occured, and how it never could have happened to a United States citizen.

His speech attempted to confront, and subsequently overcome, the limited methods he said he sees reporters practice when covering international events.

Kaste used Argentina as an example of a relatively different, distinct culture in drawing comparisons with the United States. In describing his own move from Buenos Aires to the Mid-West, Kaste acknowledged that his “sense of difference had diminished radically.”

Kaste encouraged the audience to imagine how violent protests in Argentina in 2001 following the country’s economic collapse might have played out in St. Paul or Minneapolis to illustrate how events can or cannot translate into different nations and cultures.

Kaste’s hour-long speech was followed by a round of questions and answers. Federico Burlon ’10, an Argentinian native, brought a different angle to the table, saying that the tensions in Buenos Aires in 2001 had been exaggerated to attract media attention. Burlon encouraged crowds to imagine living on $400 a week paid in a currency that was not certain to hold its value, which was the case in Argentina throughout the 1990s leading up to the 2001 collapse.