How We Came To Do A Documentary About Las Abuelas In Argentina
They decided to travel to Argentina and research the Dirty War. Their research would take the form of news stories for play on the student newscast “Carolina Week.” When they arrived, they sort of stumbled upon the group Las Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, or the grandmothers of May Plaza. The grandmothers have been looking for some 500 babies stolen from “subversive” mothers by the military. The moms were allowed to stay alive in the prison camps until their babies were born and then were summarily executed. Supporters of the military took the babies and changed everything about their identities. Las Abuelas has been looking for those missing grandchildren ever since and to date has recovered 107 of them. The reporting from Tim and Callie about the grandmothers won them the 2002 Hearst national reporting championship.
The next year, I began going to Argentina during most summers to teach at the Catholic University. After 5 or 6 such trips, my wife and daughters wondered why I got to go experience the lifestyle and culture of Argentina every summer, and they never got to go. So in 2009 the family took a trip to Buenos Aires. My younger daughter Bethany was a rising senior at the time, also studying broadcast journalism at UNC. I told her if she was going to be in Argentina for several weeks, I wanted her to do some follow-up stories about the abuelas for the student newscast. Her work won her the Society of Professional Journalists national prize for in-depth reporting.
Dr. C. A. Tuggle is a Reese Felts Distinguished Professor and Head, Electronic Communication Specialization at UNC-Chapel Hill