Despite the somewhat unpredictable nature of a) journalism and b) Honduras in general, Iâ€™m going to try and define a â€œtypicalâ€ day out here working at the paper. Here goesâ€¦
I get up at about seven in the morning, have a shower and some breakfast (which is included in my project fee along with dinner. Woo!). The paper is a five minute walk away down a busy main road where the numerous taxis that pass every minute or so will give you a beep to see if you need a lift. I normally get to work about quarter to nine, although the atmosphere is so laid back that people wonâ€™t mind what hours you do, so long as youâ€™re pulling your weight. But I guess in general we work 9 to 5. Ish.
On Mondays there is traditionally a meeting between the editors and the volunteers to talk about what stories people could cover each week. This hasnâ€™t happened too much lately though as the company is developing the first edition of their new business magazine, so people have been quite busy. Mondays and Fridays are typically very quiet so we mostly just spend our time on the net, e-mailing and reading online newspapers to see what stories have made the national papers, or occasionally doing an interview.
Although not everyone that volunteers here speaks Spanish, it is a definite bonus to have learnt some before you come out as it means you arenâ€™t restricted on what stories you can cover. Most of the interviews and conferences that Iâ€™ve covered have been in Spanish, but if you donâ€™t speak any there are usually people to interview that speak English too.
You have to fund your own materials and taxi fares to interviews (normally about 50 lemps each way, which sounds a lot but is actually only about Â£1.50!). Sometimes the editor will drive you to an interview if he happens to be going to the area, but it is well known that this may potentially turn into a two hour tour of Tegucigalpa, so you do so at your peril!
I normally write about two stories a week, which range from 500-700 words. Sometimes we have to fight (in the nicest possible way!) over the computers to write stuff up, as there are only three quite old computers in the editorial team. Then when you have a spare moment you might be translating and writing up the National and Business â€˜Week in Reviewâ€™ sections..these are small summaries of the weekâ€™s main stories of about 100 words each, and can take a while if the subject is a tricky one. On Thursdays we translate the editorial, and proofread the articles to check there are no errors and that everything is spelt in American English…(which feels so wrong if youâ€™re a Brit!)
For lunch people normally head to the mall which is a ten minute walk away to grab some fast food…I could never have anticipated how many of the global chains there are out here, itâ€™s really quite surprising. Or if youâ€™re being good and fancy something more traditional, there is a restaurant next door that does nice food, or one of the many pulperÃas in the city that sell typical Honduran food for a reasonable price. Lunch lasts about an hour and a half, but again you can take longer if you like. The joys of being a volunteer!
During the evenings we tend to watch TV and hang out at home, or go to the cinema, or for a drink (or three). On Thursdays everyone from the paper normally goes out for a much needed beverage, once the paper has been submitted. Although Iâ€™m sure the jobâ€™s pressure is nothing compared to working on a daily newspaper, Thursday beers always taste the best as you feel youâ€™ve really earned them. Â¡Salud!