Famous Colombian journalist Manuel Teodoro discussed the rewards and struggles of being a journalist, and presented a program he did exposing Colombian slave-trading during a visit to Slippery Rock University last week.
Through some research, Teodoro said he found that there is more slavery today than there was during the slave-trade, and decided to pursue the topic for his TV show. He found that over 75 percent of slaves were sex workers, and slaves coming from Colombia are often flown over to Hong Kong to work as prostitutes. He said what differentiates slavery now from slavery occurring centuries ago is that most slaves go willingly, knowing they will be sex workers, but they are deceived by their pimps as to the conditions they will meet when the go to Hong Kong.
Manuel Teodoro graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in journalism, and began his career as an editorial assistant for CBS news. He’s also worked as a correspondent for CNN, and worked on the Colombian show, “Séptimo Dia,” which is similar to the US’s “Sixty Minutes.”
Teodoro presented a special “Séptimo Dia” video produced on how sex slaves meet deplorable conditions when arriving in Hong Kong, and most go hungry in favor of paying off $20,000 debts to their pimps for flying them over there in the first place.
Teodoro said that the most difficult part of being a journalist is sifting through stories to see what stories are real, and how much people distort them with their own perspectives.
“I’m constantly being spoon-fed stories,” Teodoro said. “Everyone has an interest in pushing their own version of the truth, and my job is to try to see each story from every different side.”
Though Teodoro said he loves technology, he also said that with news outlets, blogs, and social media telling people what to think, it makes evaluating what is real and what is fraudulent difficult for the viewer. That’s why Teodoro said it’s his job to tell the truth and deliver it to an audience.
Facing opposition is part of the job, Teodoro said, and he says that as a journalist, he is obligated to tell the truth even when it offends people, which often gets many journalists into trouble, and makes the job very dangerous.
“If I were here to make people happy, I would’ve gone into PR,” Teodoro joked. “I have to honestly deliver the problems as they are so that we can work toward resolving them. I work pretty damn hard to find solutions.”
“Everyone has an interest in pushing their own version of the truth, and my job is to try to see each story from every different side.” – Manuel Teodoro
Working to find solutions and presenting societal problems takes a lot of hard work, Teodoro said, and that the final programs the audience sees takes hours of poring over documents, and tons of behind-the-scenes work.
“I’m just lucky that I chose something I love to do, and made a career out of it,” Teodoro said. “It’s been 25 years, and I love my job more as time goes on.”