About Me

I’m a bilingual, freelance journalist living in Portland, Oregon. Though I’m native to this state, I’ve only recently moved to Portland, having spent the better part of the past five years reporting from Central America. Based in Costa Rica, I covered that country and the surrounding region for a variety of publications, including the Miami Herald, Reuters, Fodor’s travel guides and People Magazine.

Of the nearly five years I lived there, I spent three working for the English-language weekly The Tico Times, where I wrote about the environment and natural disasters, politics, business and the economy, real estate and a little bit of everything else. Founded in 1956, The Tico Times gained international recognition documenting Nicaragua’s civil war, losing a reporter in the infamous 1984 La Penca bombing, and has been a pioneer in environmental reporting over the last decade.

I also spent one year working at The Beach Times, another English-language weekly. Despite the laid-back name, the paper delivered very serious journalism under two experienced publishers: Ralph Nicholson — a life-long journalist and unrepentant Aussie who retired from Reuters as the vice-president of new media — and Zoraida Diaz, a former Reuters photojournalist and photo editor.

I was brought on to expand the paper’s coverage from the northwest province, which had been ground zero for the tourism and real estate boom of the last five years, to include the Central Pacific. I worked as a correspondent based out of a burgeoning tourist beach town called Jacó, creating a network of sources and uncovering a wealth of unreported stories in a region that had never been seriously covered by any media.

Before The Tico Times, I volunteered six months at a small, now-defunct publication called Mesoamerica, which published monthly news summaries on Central America and had subscribers ranging from Noam Chomsky to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (you might know them by their former name, the School of the Americas).

I graduated from the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism in 2003, with an emphasis in magazine writing, and a minor in Spanish.

4 responses to “About Me

  1. Got your comment on my blog and wanted to say thanks for dropping in. My wife and I used to live in Nicaragua and spent a fair amount of time in Costa Rica – we were down there last year visiting friends. Good luck and keep in touch (Flor de Cana is still the best rum ever!). –Joe

  2. We used to go to Antigua for Semana Santa, but never ran across Zacapa. I’ll keep my eyes open — thanks for the tip!

  3. I’m glad to see you up and running here. Your blog looks great! I’ll be checking in regularly.

  4. Hi Leland, been following your work and I have a project that I need a writer for. Can you email me or contact me via skype cynthia.paniagua?

    Thanks!

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