CUNAHJ Panel: Freelancing Latin America

Freelancing in Latin America
featuring Seth Kugel (The New York Times’ current Frugal Traveler),
Juan Manuel Robles (Peruvian magazine writer and editor), and the J-School’s own Sandro Mairata, Manuel Rueda, and Camilo Smith

Do you dream of traveling through Latin America as a freelance journalist? Don’t know where to start? Current J-School students and freelance veterans SANDRO MAIRATA (has written for Peruvian and international magazines), MANUEL RUEDA (has broad experience in radio broadcast working from Colombia) and CAMILO SMITH (has extensively covered Mexican hip hop for print and his own online venture) will give practical tips and talk about pitching and selling their work to US outlets.

The students will share a panel with two young and distinguished journalists who will also tell it like it is: JUAN MANUEL ROBLES, a magazine writer and editor from Lima who is pursuing a creative writing degree at NYU, and SETH KUGEL, longtime freelancer for The New York Times and GlobalPost, among others, who is currently traveling all over the Americas on a budget as the Times’ new daring Frugal Traveler.

More about some of the panelists:

At the end of 2008, Seth Kugel relocated to Sao Paulo, Brazil, writing for the Times Travel section, and working as Brazil correspondent for Global Post. From Brazil he contributed to magazines like Wallpaper, Conde Nast Traveler and Food & Wine.

He’s worked for the immigrant services project of the City of New York called Citizenship NYC.  Kugel co-authored the 2006 book, Nueva York: The Complete Guide to Latino Life in the Five Boroughs, with Carolina Gonzalez. He’s a graduate of Yale and Harvard.

Juan Manuel Robles is  a Peruvian feature writer and journalist, author of Lima Freak. Vidas Insólitas en una Ciudad Perturbada (Lima Freak, Unusual Lives in a Disturbed City, 2007) and Zaraí Toledo. La

Hija Patria. (Zaraí Toledo: Daughterland, 2009). He was finalist of the New Journalism Award at Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez’s Foundation for New Journalism, where he also was a fellow in 2002 (at a workshop with famed Polish journalist Kapuscinski) and Argentinian writer Tomás Eloy Martínez (2004). He won first and second prize at the first Matalamanga Contest for Cooking Tales (2007), and writes a blog for El Comercio online, Peru’s prime news organization. He’s been writing for magazines in Europe and Latin America, was the founding director of Helio –a lifestyle magazine for men- and is the current editor of Cosas, Peru’s prime lifestyle magazine.

Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Sandro Mairata first completed an undergraduate course in Translation and Interpretation at Universidad Ricardo Palma before starting a career as a journalist, which has led him to pursue a MS degree at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Since 2001, Sandro has worked for several Spanish language magazines including Rolling Stone, Gatopardo, In, Etiqueta Negra, Dedo Medio, Helio, Caretas, and La República newspaper’s Domingo magazine.
He’s a Fulbright scholar now, and was also granted the Henry R. Taylor Scholarship from Columbia. In 2003 and 2007, he received two scholarships from Colombia’s Fundación Para un Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano, created by Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez. Sandro has received several awards for his work, and currently has an article included in an anthology of the Best Latin American Journalism, vol. 2 (FCE, 2010). At Columbia as a magazine concentrator, when Sandro is not sharing his love for reading and writing, you could possibly find him listening to classic rock or in a movie theater in the neighborhood.

Manuel Rueda is a digital media concentrator at the journalism school. Before coming to New York he lived for two years in Bogota, Colombia where he freelanced for U.S. and Canadian radio programs, such as Free Speech Radio News, VOA News and CBC radio canada. He covered a wide range of issues including refugee situations, Drug trafficking projects and a donkey beauty pageant near the Caribbean sea.

For five months he also hosted Free Speech Radio News, a program that is aired by 80 stations across the U.S. Manuel was born in Venezuela to Colombian parents. He is working hard at the J-School and still trying to find the famous New York salsa scene.

In the fall of 2008, Camilo Smith went to Mexico City to do some independent research on the state of hip-hop culture in Mexico. For over a year, he lived in D.F., and freelanced coverage of the
indie rock scene, the national Latina rap scene and the H1N1 outbreak.
His blog,, which he dedicated to covering current events, ethnicity and rap music in Mexico, was featured last summer in the international blogger event Postopolis!, in the Distrito Federal. Camilo Smith is a digital media concentrator. He’s worked as a digital archivist, copy editor, blogger and writer at the L.A. Times. He also wrote hip-hop articles for the Source magazine, Ozone magazine, Chicago RedEye, Pop&Hiss and He’s a 2001 graduate of the METPRO copy editing program, and a 1998 graduate of Brandeis University.


For subway directions to Columbia, check here.


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