Some think they know what the Day of the Dead is all about, with the stereotypes from films such as “Coco” and James Bond’s “Spectre” as reference points, but the team in Latin America wanted to showcase the authentic spirit of the tradition, going beyond the costumes and imagery associated with it.
To get to the heart of how the departed are remembered by their loved ones, teams in Mexico, Peru and Haiti deployed far and wide to cover different aspects of the festival.
Reporter María Teresa Hernández from the Religion beat, photographer María Alferez, and video journalist Fernanda Pesce set out to small towns in Oaxaca, while video desk producer turned video journalist India Grant travelled to Michoacán, and photographer Marco Ugarte headed to the San Gregorio Atlapulco cemetery on the outskirts of Mexico City.
The imagery they produced brought customers the colors of the traditional cempasuchil (marigold) flowers illuminated by candles and sounds of families gathered in cemeteries. Reporter María Verza took readers on a journey for the senses — from the smell of the flowers and of the tree resin copal burning on the altars, to the taste of the traditional Day of the Dead bread — with an innovative approach to an old story.
To illustrate different angles of the festival, Haiti video journalist Pierre Luxama was able to secure rare access to film various Vodou ceremonies marking Fete Gede, their version of the Day of the Dead. At one of the largest cemeteries in the world in Peru video journalist César Barreto and producer Mauricio Muñoz accompanied Peruvians as they placed flowers on gravesites of loved ones under the Andean sound of wooden flutes.
Wrapping up the extensive coverage video journalist Lissette Romero, photographer Ginnete Riquelme and reporter Mark Stevenson showed audiences the Hollywood-style Day of the Dead parade. Although not part of the tradition, it was adopted by Mexico City and has become a very popular event for city dwellers.
Some of the world’s biggest broadcasters such as the BBC, Euronews, Deutsche Welle, Univision used our Day of the Dead coverage, and it’s particularly worth pointing out that the BBC published a barely reedited wrap from several videos the AP put out that showcased the scope and quality of our coverage.
For a gargantuan regional effort provides rich and thoughtful coverage of the annual Day of the Dead, capturing the essence of the tradition like never before, Carrillo, Pesce, Grant, Luxama, Barreto, Romero, Alferez, Ugarte, Riquelme, Verza, Hernández, Stevenson, Muñoz and Triboulard are Best of the Week — Second Winner.