Leading the Children Throughout a New Era of Darkness and Hope

Alex de Borba

Alex de Borba

After our inception eleven years ago, we must confess that time is of the essence if we consider that much has been achieved in less than a decade. Regardless, further territorial expansion is definitely at our grasp and starting today, we gradually begin to turn our English pages into Spanish as it has become now, one of our main focuses of attention, therefore, welcoming a new era for us and a vivid nightmare to others.

Ousting the challenges we had faced while transitioning from Europe to Latin America — much due to our approach in the way we do things, and most importantly, how we do it — it has arrived at a time that we deem the need to take a somewhat more sustainable “divide and conquer” strategy, levering the status quo in which we momentarily see ourselves chained, consequently, unleashing what others have feared for so many years; our competitive hunger for leadership in their native language.

Today’s editorial is an official statement created by our organisation to tackle some light upon the Colombian scene on different fronts, such as how it theoretically operates and how it is implemented in practice. While our initiative evaluates the national scene by providing in-deep insights regarding their longstanding approach to the industry, it also shares considerable constructive criticism on how to improve it.

In truth, we always stood for adversity without being hostile, as it provided us with the mastery to use various means of transformation with tangible acuities that the national media throughout the years failed to implement; even if following us closely, we have created a unique formula of our own and reinvented ourselves throughout the years, yet perfectly keeping our initial roots, our beloved connection to heavy metal, which until today endures, and shall continue to, even if interconnected with other dreadful tastes of the liking.

Ultimately, after witnessing a scene that comfortable remained unchanged and stagnant in time, it comes to our time to embrace a new hostile approach in hopes of seeing changes and continuously enhance our position while leading instead of following those that have established a habit we disapprove, that regretable, remains predominantly after a decade.

Colombia media has outgrown itself and somehow laid the foundations in a vastly contradictory battlefield for our organisation, often surrounded by exclusion other than inclusion – that is, if you are not with them, you are against them – that we have closely glimpsed throughout the years, by favouring those that they can benefit from other than embracing for the difference and give opportunities to the newcomers, those that can raise the industry to further professional standards.

In truth, more often, the circle of events over repeats itself in an infinite limbo of addiction to the point of exhaustion.

With this said, we came to a point a couple of years back that we felt forced to recruit staff abroad other than in the country that hosts us primarily because we hold dear a need for impartiality, which again, Colombia media fails to sustain in one way or another due to their persistence for associations that in absolutely nothing, benefit those that bravely fight to stand out without belonging to a specific “inner circle” that dictates the freedom of many, and the abandonment of many others.

We have never positioned ourselves as a hostile organisation; perhaps we have stood more often misunderstood while approaching the national scene with truthfulness, aiming to improve it and bring some professionalism among those lines, nonetheless, we were always quickly disregarded and target of controversy as been part of a culture that yet has much to acknowledge when it comes to accepting the inclusion of foreigner organisations on their country.

Frankly speaking, from our part in much the national scene could eventually benefit, other than imposing with a vile sense of submissive obedience and act as if we were intruders trying to pierce an inner-circle that for decades, successfully managed to succeed due to its “national inclusion” and retrodict alienation of foreigner sources. Ironically, let us consider how the media in Colombia approach their audience. We may quickly become aware that much is shamelessly copied from the North American marketplace, whether they openly admit it or not. The national media primarily operates in the same way even if poorly executed; however, exclusion remains.

Lusitanian at its core, our organisation strived for endless years to change the current Colombian mindset to the point of weariness, I daresay, unuseful as there is the utmost importance to keep things as they are, predominantly following a format set on a tombstone, other than reconstructing slowly from the ground up with new foundations, and therefore, approach a broader, more coercive industry while remaining amicable and cooperative with their surroundings.

During our ground exploration of Colombian standards, we have often debated if our organisation had a place among those that see us as outcasts, the “enemy within its ranks,” however, we never considered bending our heads and hanging over the “crow” to a lesser servant.

Colombian media (especially self-entitled “directors”) do praise themselves as leaders of entire staffers when in reality such statement and positioning falls sort if we compare that said, “staff” are merely underpaid, overworked, and underestimated national talents that willingly opt to serve those that in nothing would benefit them in return just to obtain a “name in the scene” and be recognisable for their natural talents, be it on writing, filmmaking, photography, or organisational approaches while coordinating “staff” during the live coverage on public events.

One cannot claim to have a “staff” when said team is a gathering of longtime friends that offer their time to collaborate with a national media and that are often seen as “employees” and treated as such when underpaid (if paid at all).

On the other hand, one can claim to have a staff when those are appropriately rewarded for their efforts, be it by been financially compensating them at a fair rate, having them on contract, or even providing inclusion in a staff that is constituted by an international group of individuals with different ethnicities, sexual orientations, and so forth, all of which working together to accomplish one single objective, but essential goal: professionalism.

I firmly believe that in Colombia, there is a mentality in which it dictates that there is no need to change old standards that only benefit the status quo of a single individual in a society that is programmed to worship their “accomplishments”, independently of whoever made it possible, only one individual gathers the appraisal of a scene that quickly disregards the efforts of many behind the scenes. After all, even thus we strongly disavow such actions, it is a comfortable position for a Colombian. “Status” is easily accomplished, but it can spiral rapidly if due recognition occurs, and most importantly, the truth about the “staff” behind such media would come to light. Nonetheless, this is the raw truth in Colombia, unchanged through ages, miserably comfortable with the current status quo, and dare not to contradict or even suggest changes; otherwise, one may find himself outcasted for speaking his mind out loud and sent to the inquisition pyre without mercy.

Changes are indeed unacceptable in a scene that contents itself with very little. As long as rotation and predictability remain, everyone is in tears of joy.

One may say that most “in the scene” prefer to remain “blindfolded” and abide by “work exploitation” as long as remaining friends, proper credentials are provided to “cover” a particular event of their liking, even if later reporting in an article that is a mere compiled collection of “essays” dreadfully arranged and copied from other media in a few paraphrases to show that “that the work was done” and that the credentials were a justifiable “investment.” We pity the promoters that grant credentials to “reporters” that in nothing bring the excitement, the livid experience of assisting an event to their readers in a cohesive narrative that gets them involved to the point of feeling like they were there or desiring to attend to the next event the promoter is currently involved with.

Regrettably, one represents a media and makes the question that everyone else is fully aware of his “importance” as a way to satiate his “vanity”. After all, it is a “reputable” way of standing out among many. In contrast, others struggle to provide results that stand out for the “media they represent” while battling to meet monthly billing deadlines. Here lay an obvious unbalance in how Colombia media operates that I daresay is quite uncanny, and not in a good way, I am afraid.

For instance, we have worked alongside fellow photographers from other media while covering events in common in many circumstances, which told us how much they were getting paid for the same work ours would be performing. The difference was so abysmal that we would instead remain silent, other than humiliating our colleagues. Let us just add that history repeats itself for years to follow. We have spoken, interacted, and even shared our insights with fellow colleagues who claimed to be “exploited” due to the lack of “better opportunities.”

Unfortunately, the very same occurred with writers, that while running between stages on Rock Al Parque with their follow colleagues, battled against adversity while doing their very best to write accurate reports, yet digging on their pockets to pay for food and drinks throughout the day, often severely working under rough weather conditions, and still, barely affording for their transportation to the event, or doing back home, to then sit for a couple of hours fighting tiredness to deliver the final results for the work to a “Director” that on the other hand, may be at home on his seventh sleep by the time his “worker” is struggling to keep himself awake.

Disequility, unbalance, and most importantly, unfairness settles in a country where it does not matter the struggles one may have. Even if underpaid, results must be delivered at all costs. In lack of a better term – and apologies beforehand – “slavery” comes to mind while evaluating the entire situation at hand.

On the other hand, sexism is still an issue, as male predominance abides (or narcissism, better put into words). Women are often undermined due to their gender, lacking the sense for inclusion, equal ship or opportunities in a “scene” that primitively still sees women as an object of their fantasies, other than giving due (or instead of said, overdue) recognition the fact they are well capable of working as hard as the masculine gender, and often, challenging as the machismo forces them to overcompensate their efforts to prove themselves worthy when they should not if there was a sense of union ship and mutual respect in a “media scene” that with a mouthful claims to respect everyone. Such claims, again, fall short if we weigh theory with standardised practices.

I have in much deviated from the initial starting point. Again, please accept my sincere apologies. It does come naturally to me to sustain claims with integrity and frivolously. It is unavoidable to approach such a topic, as I have been quite often “discriminated against” by the fact I am not Latin American, but rather a European that is “raising controversy” in the “local media scene.” Proudly, I daresay, as someone who has led this organisation for over a decade now, I have witnessed many attitudes that I stand against for its lack of respect and fairness and will always stand against. Conformism is the purest form of submission, after all.

True, our organisation came to a crossroad or, better said, a pragmatic situation with this editorial. We either become submissive and accept what is given and stagnate in time without any foreseeable expansion in Colombia, or we rise above and keep the “crown” (please have in consideration that we see AE since its creation as a “Queen’”) and bring a beacon of light and hope to an enslaving scenery by openly declaring ourselves hostiles in a “scene” that is nothing has contributed to our status quo, and behead the “beasts” once and for all.

Opening hostilities is somewhat controversial but certainly, a necessity, as our purpose here is not to “go against” the Colombia media nor the way it operates, but rather to enforce changes whether they approve it or not, by openly sharing our desire to welcome existing “staff members” of their media to join us and leave behind those that in one way or another, never showing them essential respect.

As with everything in life – or in our particular case, undead – there is a natural process of evolution or devolution. It depends on the eye of the beholder. Gravely so, not for our organisation but our opponents, we set our standards high but continuously seek to evolve while keeping the essence of who we are and to whom we serve worldwide and not limit ourselves to boundaries.

As a closing statement, we open our arms wide to welcome all those looking to follow us through a new era of darkness and hope, beginning by filling our hearts with your will by completing the application process we made available to you, in Spanish, meaning that from now forward, we no longer require new national applicants to know English as a second language.

We are removing with our new approach the barrier that sadly for many years prevented us from receiving national talents, independently of their skillset, and becoming openly receptive to change.

Our multilanguage transition has begun, and you will slowly notice our website changing from English to Spanish according to your browser language. However, there is an arduous task as all efforts are made humanly to complete it within the following months.

In the meantime, we welcome you to a new era of darkness and hope on behalf of the staff.

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