“They would like to tell people what they experienced during the natural disaster that struck the city.”

The Reframed Stories Project asks people to respond to dominant themes and issues that appear in news coverage about their communities. These stories are reflections by people who are frequently represented by others in the media. Word clouds are created using the Media Cloud platform, a data analysis tool which examines a collection of media outlets over a specific period of time, allowing participants to analyze and discuss the preliminary insights into how they might be represented in the media. The project refrains from making conclusive pronouncements about the data, and instead is a starting point that creates space for discussion about how they can help shape their own media representation through digital media.

Andy Arboleda and Alberto Martínez are members of Centro de juventudes de Esmeraldas (Youth Center of Esmeraldas), a human rights organization in Esmeraldas, Ecuador that works with children, teenagers, and the LGBTI community. One of its primary activities is the weekly radio program La Calle Habla (The Street Talks), a place for discussion and debate about issues facing their community. The following post is based on transcripts of interviews with Andy and Alberto as they analyze word clouds for the word “Esmeraldas,” a city affected by earthquakes as well as conflicts along the border it shares with Colombia.

Dominant words from 116 articles published between January 2017 and April 2018 mentioning “Esmeraldas” within four Media Cloud collections of Ecuador’s Spanish-language media outlets. (view larger image)

What about the word cloud drew your attention most?

Andy Arboleda. Photo by El Churo and used with permission


Andy Arboleda (AA): Lo que más me llamó la atención fueron las cosas que en Esmeraldas han pasado, (sobre lo que la gente) ha vivido,  la realidad de las personas que han estado aquí en Esmeraldas y lo que han sentido sobre muchas cosas que han pasado en Esmeraldas, como los terremotos y las cosas que están pasando en la frontera. Uno como joven tiene que poner el empuje para la sociedad esmeraldeña.

Andy Arboleda (AA): What most drew my attention were the things that Esmeraldas has gone through, the reality experienced here, the people that have been here in Esmeraldas, and what those people have felt about many things that have happened in Esmeraldas like the earthquakes and the events along the border. Young people have to push for the society of Esmeraldas.

Alberto Martínez. Photo by El Churo and used with permission.

Alberto Martínez (AM): La razón por la cual yo escogí (esta nube de palabras) fue por lo que se habla y se rumora mucho de lo que está aconteciendo en estos momentos en la ciudad.

Alberto Martínez (AM): The reason why I chose (this word cloud) was because of what is being said and rumored to be happening now in the city.

According to the word cloud, how are young people represented in the media?

AA: Creo que las palabras que están ahí, son por el motivo que muchas cosas no se pueden decir en televisión, lo que puede parecer es que hay muchas cosas graves que se ponen arriba (en la nube de palabras), pero las cosas negativas también están bajando. Digamos, si hay ideas buenas, la idea es que las ideas buenas las pusieran arriba, y las ideas malas un poco más abajo porque no podemos hablar de cosas malas mientras que Esmeraldas también está haciendo muchas cosas buenas por nosotros.

AA: I think the words that are there are the reason that many things cannot be said on television. It may seem like many serious topics are at top [of the word cloud], but the negative items are going down. There are good ideas, and the idea is that good ideas should appear at the top and the bad ideas farther down because we cannot talk about bad things when there are also many good things done by us [the youth] in Esmeraldas.

According to the word cloud, how is Esmeraldas represented in the media?

AM: Conflictivo. Y no me parece (esta representación) porque todos aquellos que han venido a la ciudad de Esmeraldas se han dado cuenta de que la ciudadanía y los ciudadanos esmeraldeños son muy, muy alegres, les gusta compartir las cosas que les rodean con las demás personas.

Las palabras que salieron y me impactaron fue terremoto, desarrollo y reconstrucción.

AM: Troubled. I don't think it is because of all those that have come to the city of Esmeraldas, who have noticed that the citizens of Esmeraldas are very cheerful. They like to share the things they have with others.

The words that impacted me were earthquake, development, and reconstruction.

How should youth and the city of Esmeraldas be represented in the media?

AA: La palabra que yo siempre pusiera ahí es ‘luchar’ porque esta palabra motiva a muchas personas a luchar y uno como joven, cuando uno lucha, siempre su voz va a ser escuchada.

AA: The word that I would always put there is ‘struggle’ because this word motivates many people to stand up. As a young person, when you stand up, your voice will be heard.

AM: Las palabras que yo ubicaría en esta nube serían progreso, unión y familia.

AM: The words that I would place in this word cloud would be progress, unity, and family.

What words should a word cloud for ‘youth’ and ‘Esmeraldas’ have?

AA: Las palabras que pienso que no salieron fueron (las relacionadas a) cultura, porque es como un Esmeraldeño tiene que demostrar lo que uno es. Cultura, arte, lo que uno demuestra en forma del baile, sacar una sonrisa a cada persona. No pasan solo lo que está pasando en Esmeraldas, lo grave, sino también lo positivo de cada persona.

AA: Words that I think didn't appear were words like ‘culture’ because residents of Esmeraldas have to  show what they are. Culture, art, what one demonstrates through dance, make someone smile. You don't experience what is going on in Esmeraldas alone, the severity, but also what is positive in each person.

AM: Recopilación, ya que recopilaban cada idea, cada pensamiento de los ciudadanos, ya que querían salir adelante después de lo que había sucedido. Querían contar lo que se está viviendo y lo que se vivió durante el desastre natural que hubo en la ciudad.

AM: Compilation, bringing together every idea, every thought from the citizens because they would like to progress after what happened. They would like to tell people what they are going through and what they experienced during the natural disaster that struck the city.

This is part of a Rising Frames series developed in close collaboration with the organization El Churo based in Quito, Ecuador. They organized a workshop held on May 4, 2018 in Esmeraldas, Ecuador that brought together representatives from various collectives and groups to examine how they or issues they care about are represented in a collection of Ecuadorian media and created stories in response to that representation.

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