The Association of Foreign Press Correspondents in the United States (AFPC-USA) provides annual scholarships to foreign journalists who are completing their Master’s level studies in a U.S.-based academic institution.

Report by: Muhammad Moazzam Ali

“Receiving the AFPC’s scholarship is great encouragement to keep pursuing my goals

Natalia Sánchez Loayza is a Peruvian journalist, editor, and writer. In 2021, she received an Annual Scholarship Award from the Association of Foreign Press Correspondents in the USA. She’s a master candidate in Bilingual Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism as a Future Journalist Fund Scholar. Additionally, she holds an MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish from NYU. She focuses her journalistic work on gender inequality, labor issues, and reproductive rights. Her reporting on the labor conditions of domestic workers in Peru has been awarded by the Gabo Foundation. She’s co-founder and co-editor of different female-led media projects. She was awarded the Aura Estrada Prize in 2021. She lives in Brooklyn.

What was the primary reason you chose to pursue your master’s studies in the United States as a foreign journalist?

I’m committed to reporting about and for my community. It took me some time to feel that I was part of any community here in the US but after living here for a couple of years, that feeling started to change. Slowly, I’ve been finding my place in NYC, and now practicing my profession and putting it to the service of my community in this city make more sense. Pursuing a master’s degree in journalism was the right choice for me because it’s the perfect path to enter the media industry in this country. I get to take my first steps as a foreign journalist in the US with the support of my teachers and classmates at CUNY.

You were recently awarded a scholarship from the Association of Foreign Press Correspondents in the United States. How did you feel about this recognition? 

It was an amazing feeling and such an honor! Right after I was accepted into my dream master’s program, I was so overwhelmed with how I was going to be able to afford it. Even though I was offered a great scholarship by the university, it wasn’t enough money for me to cover my expenses in NYC, especially because my student visa doesn’t allow me to work outside of campus during the first year of the program. Receiving the Association of Foreign Press Correspondents Scholarship has been such a relief for me and a great encouragement to keep pursuing my goals.

As a journalist, how do you expect your studies and the support from the Association of Foreign Press Correspondents in the United States to help you advance your career?

The MA in Bilingual Journalism at CUNY gives us an advantage in the job market because it prepares us to do rigorous reporting in both languages and gives us tools to understand US Latino communities more deeply and with a stronger commitment to represent them fully. At the same time, receiving the support of the Association of Foreign Press Correspondents in the US not only allows me to afford my studies, but also brings me closer to a network of hardworking and talented journalists from around the world. Their work inspires me to keep working on mine.

What made you decide to become a journalist? How do you hope to make an impact in the journalism field of your country of origin?

In the beginning, it was hard for me to define myself as a journalist since I didn’t do my undergraduate studies in journalism. I was doing my bachelor’s degree in Hispanic Literature when I was offered an opportunity to write in an extremely popular magazine in Peru. I was very scared to do it, but I did it anyway. I was suddenly working as a freelance journalist. The job was hectic all the time, therefore there wasn’t much room for the editors to sit down with me a teach me how to do this job. I had to learn by doing it.

It wasn’t until I joined Etiqueta Negra, a famous narrative journalism magazine in Peru when I realized I wanted to be a journalist. Working at the magazine showed me journalism could be a service to justice and an art form. At the same time, during all those formative years, issues like racism, classism, and sexism in the media became very evident to me, as well as how the media oligopoly in my country impacts how our reality is being told. As an editor, I want to keep building spaces where silenced narratives find a place to be told. Also, as a foreign journalist, I want to keep working on collaborative projects with Peruvian and Latino journalists to fight against discrimination in media.

As a foreign journalist, what defines your mission? 

Journalism is key to democracy. Media outlets should provide fair, accurate, honest news to people so they can make informed decisions. In that sense, journalism can be a survival tool.

What do you think is the greatest threat to journalism today?

We can’t do our job if we don’t have enough freedom to do it. I believe the biggest threats to journalism today are censorship and excessive control over the press. Sometimes these types of threats can be pretty evident for example, in the case of dictatorships, but sometimes they aren’t that straightforward, as in the case of media concentration.

What is the state of press freedom in your country of origin and how do you hope that your work will encourage more people to access independent and credible information? 

In Peru, most print and online media are owned by a few corporations. This media concentration undermines press freedom, because it restricts editorial plurality and obstructs the work of journalists who want to investigate the power these corporations hold, as well as the corruption allegations against them or their stakeholders. These corporations are known for being biased, centralized (focused on Lima, the Peruvian capital), and traditional. Therefore, this concentration provides the readers with a false sense of what is going on in the country.

                                                                                                                                                                 (as per reported by Foreign Press)

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