Journalism is Fueled by Community

4:55 am. Waiting outside a Colombian flower farm for the floriculture workers—who mostly arrive by bicycle—to show up despite the pre-dawn drizzle. Image credit: María Andrea Kronfly

When the shrill buzz of my alarm sounded at 2:40 am, I hadn’t slept more than three hours. But then again, neither had local journalist María Andrea Kronfly nor our driver for the day, Don Jesus.

Blurry eyed and disoriented from the short night, I barely remembered to take my camera battery from the blinking green wall charger and stuff it in with my gear before leaving. After swinging the backpack I’d prepped just a few hours before over my shoulder, I slipped out of the room and clicked the door softly shut as not to disturb my sleeping IWMF roommate.

Descending the elevator with a yawn, I glanced at my phone to make sure I’d make my 3 am pickup time. While I’d been on a grueling early morning schedule for much of this reporting trip—trying to capture morning light—this was a new level of “early.” Our goal? Images of floriculture workers who arrive by bicycle during predawn hours to the ornamental flower farms that dot Colombia’s Department of Antioquia. I greeted Don Jesus with “buenos días” and loaded my gear into the car. As we set out down the empty streets of Medellín, I settled into my seat and prepared myself for the dark hour and a half drive, all because we were in search of pictures.

Photographing workers as they arrive at a flower farm in rural Colombia. Image credit: María Andrea Kronfly

The Adelante reporting trip is about sharing underreported narratives, but experiences such as this early morning wakeup remind me: journalists don’t work alone. While this community of story support is more evident during a reporting trip—fixers, drivers, IWMF fellows, and staff—every story and journalist has a network behind them. This network may be friends, family members, a partner, or a spouse; it may be an editor who believes in the journalist’s vision or a colleague who helps with story brainstorming or edits, often via WhatsApp messages from a different country, between their assignments.

Community fuels journalism. While an article or image gallery may have a single name attached to the byline, each story is indeed the product of a journalist’s unseen web of support. My images may reflect what I see at that moment, but the overall story vision is directly related to the conversations I’ve had before, during, or even after a project. So thank you, María Andrea, Don Jesus, and other members of the IWMF team for accompanying me at ridiculously early hours during this reporting trip. And to our broader community of friends, family, and colleagues, thank you for your relentless story support and continuing encouragement to help us see more deeply and think more broadly about the narratives that surround us.