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Sunday, April 21, 2024


This year's edition of Retrovisor is led by university voices. You'll find two reports from students who returned to previous reports and brought them to life through mobile journalism, and an inspiring conversation with a journalism student who kicked off our 2023 with a chronicle about the fight to save San José's rivers.


No matter what journalism we consume, and when, and how: the rise of misinformation and a drop in public trust in the media are playing a massive role in weakening our democratic societies. These big problems deserve big responses. But what if a small change can create a little wave that expands over time? What happens if we shift the mindset of a single journalist?


Our 28th edition of in-depth journalism includes Katherine Stanley’s in-depth longform series on this topic, first-person stories from three people living with HIV in Costa Rica, and a special edition of our El Colectivo 506 podcast created by award-winning journalist Diego Bosque. Along with columns and live events, the edition will strive to help us all understand what can be done to reduce stigma around the virus—and why this effort has implications for all of us.


Costa Rican children and youth have basic reading skills. So why does all this matter? Should we worry? Is it really important that our youth achieve advanced reading skills? The State of Education report describes this as their capacity to “understand long texts and deduce what is relevant information from the text, to develop causal or other reasoning based on a deep understanding of long texts, and to assess neutrality and bias based on explicit signals, related to both the content and the source of the information.”⁠ El Colectivo 506 dedicated two months to explore these questions.


At El Colectivo 506, our March edition represents a challenge not just for our journalists, but also for our company. We’re setting out on the path to B Certification, armed—as always—with lots of questions: How have Certified B Corporations in Costa Rica achieved and maintained a positive impact? And what are the challenges for entrepreneurs, particularly rural MSMEs, that wish to complete this rigorous certification?⁠ We explore the B Corps movement with the co-sponsors of this edition: Bodhi Surf + Yoga, Casitas Tenorio B&B, Florex, and Pucci Costa Rica.


The percentage of Costa Ricans living in urban areas increased from 34% in the 1960s to 81% in 2021. The consequences of this accelerated and often disorganized growth are no secret. The increasing density of populated and developed areas puts great pressure on natural resources, while at the same time eliminating the original green areas, such as the premontane moist forest that once dominated the Central Valley. A wide range of voices from civil society, and the public and private sectors, say that there is only one thing to do: recover, regenerate, and revalue the city’s green areas, starting at the river.


The main reason for turning our December edition into one that looks back is to revisited characters and places and scheduled conversations we hadn’t been able to squeeze in the first time around. We celebrated achievements and moments that, during the year, had shaped our media organization and the community that accompanies us on the route of this collective bus.


The collective bus that gave our media organization its name is an exciting and comforting place to be—and that's all because of the readers, writers and communities that sustain this project. So this month’s edition is all about you. During the month of gratitude, we’re pulling our bus to the side of the road so more people can get on. We’re slowing down to check in with people who are linked to media organization through readership, friendship, or just a shared love for Costa Rica or in-depth journalism.


Every morning in Costa Rica, older adults get up and start taking care of their grandchildren, their parents. But what is the invisible cost of this care? How do inequalities affect the burden of care in an aging society? and how does it transcend them? Is Costa Rica at the gates of a care crisis? . The 506 Collective teamed up with the Yamuni Tabush Foundation to capture a day in their lives. We worked with five photojournalists, all Costa Rican women and mothers, who fanned out across the country to tell five stories.


This is our second annual Inside Out edition—in which we hand our digital magazine over to the rural entrepreneurs who make Costa Rican run. We love doing this, but it’s also urgent: more than two years into this pandemic, the rural Costa Rica we love is still on the line.


Costa Rica has a challenge that it has sought to conquer for decades: bilingualism. Since 2016, great changes have occurred to try to meet the goal, which was finally defined in 2019: graduate bilingual students in the public and private sectors without exception by 2040. That year Costa Rica wants to be able to say that it is 100% bilingual. How is the plan progressing? What solutions have been implemented?


What culinary traditions are being lost in Costa Rica? How will this country change without them? And who's trying to keep this from happening?


“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”, said Mahatma Ghandi. This edition looks at how Costa Rica is promoting coexistence with domestic animals through it legislation and other projects.⁠ The issue is be packed with insights, solutions journalism, and lots of photos of adorable pets.⁠


What are the untold stories behind how 57 legislators, every four years, land their jobs?⁠ The interviews for our March edition about the representation of rural communities in the Legislative Assembly, showed frustration, anger, even tears.⁠ The stories are built form conversations not only with the recently elected legislators—the players who’ll rule the legislative turf for the next four years—but also with current and former legislators who have lots to say. Discoveries that have changed the way we see what happens in that gray building.


What does healthy aging mean? We tackle that question in Long Live CR! ⁠There's been lots of reporting about Costa Rica's aging population and how, in under 20 years, that population could be significantly sicker and more dependent. ⁠ ⁠We want to talk about what's being done to change that outlook and to prepare the country so that Costa Ricans—of all ages—can look forward to a higher quality of life as senior citizens. ⁠


To honor the entrepreneurs who build Costa Rica with their hands every day, we've created "Toolkit 2022," our January edition. We started our second year of publication by exploring the tools Costa Rica offers its small businesses, and what's still needed. With the support of Travel with Ann Experiential, we reflect on how travelers can support small business during their time in Costa Rica.


"Rearview," begins what we hope will be an annual tradition at El Colectivo 506: a month to look back at the stories we reported throughout the year. This was a month to chase down loose ends. To find out what happened with the plans and dreams that were left on the table.


Leilani. Kenneth. Shirley. Sherman. They’re names that many Costa Ricans have spoken—or shouted—this year in front of the TV screen, with astonishment or glee. But what is the work behind the scenes that goes into allowing a new athlete or a new sport to emerge from the shadows? What can we learn from this process? What are the myths surrounding non-traditional sports and sectors in Costa Rica, that these athletes are helping to defeat? And whose lives are affected when this is achieved, beyond the lives of the people who are now so well known for their mastery of their fields, arenas and waves? ⁠


Just how dire is the impact of COVID in the early detection of cancer? What is the solution? What public-private partnerships are in place, or taking shape, that can reduce cancer mortality in Costa Rica?⁠. We dive deep into this topic. We explore the experiences of patients and medical personnel around the country, and some of the various initiatives that have been developed to improve cancer prevention and early diagnosis.


What does fake news look like in Costa Rica? Have you ever seen it? During this month of September—the month of Independence Day and of Costa Rica’s bicentennial celebrations—we’re turning our attention at El Colectivo 506 to the health of our democracy, and how disinformation and fake news is causing new symptoms in our society. We’ve prepared for you an edition that explores errors small and huge, lies of all shapes and sizes, and the stories of the people who work day and night to correct, convince, and clarify. In short: this month, we’re shining a light on local media and journalists who want to inform us well and truthfully. Join us for “Infodemic,” a month behind the scenes of Costa Rican news.⁠


Costa Rica is famous for its commitment to its protected areas. But what is life like for the neighbors of these parks and reserves? What it's like to make a living in these iconic places? What innovations are being developed in Costa Rica to ensure the future of these spaces and the people who depend on them? In "Symbiosis," we'll explore the relationship between Costa Rica's national parks and the communities that shape them: in Ostional, Chirripó, Isla San Lucas, and Bahía Ballena. Would you like to support the work of our journalists this month?


How have rural Costa Rican towns gotten back on their feet after a tragedy, and how are they preparing for the future in this era of increasing storms and rising waters? Our seventh edition, "Watershed," explores moments of crisis that marked a before and after for Costa Rican communities. The stories of floods, storms, and other natural events that started something new. Longform articles from Upala, Monteverde, Talamanca, Ciudad Cortés y Sarapiquí, written by journalists from our NETWORK 506, supported by the Solutions Journalism Network

JUNE 2021 - Country of allies?

In June 2021, at El Colectivo 506, we asked ourselves the question: Is Costa Rica a country of allies? The search for the answer led us to look at the struggle for respect for Human Rights of the LGTBIQ + community in the country, and to dig to find who is doing the work so that we can answer "yes" to our question. We look at the public sector, the private sector and civil society organizations.

MAY 2021 - Costa Rica Inside Out

A month when we turned the keys over to Directory 506. These pieces are shaped by El Colectivo 506, but generated by the rural tourism and nonprofit leaders we’re here to serve. Behind the scenes, we made surveys and forms, tools, and editing procedures, all designed to help us develop stories not just about, but also with rural organizations.

APRIL 2021 - The trailblazers

What does rural tourism in Costa Rica look, feel, smell, taste, and sound like? What does it mean to be a rural tourism entrepreneur in one of the most diverse destinations in the world? How has COVID-19 affected rural tourism in Costa Rica? Can the Costa Rican government save the sector... or can rural entrepreneurs save themselves? We asked ourselves all these questions, and in a very ambitious edition—with seven in-depth articles, four opinion columns, and nine articles written by members of our Directory 506—we tried to answer them.

MARCH 2021 - Lessons learned

On March 1st 2021, with our third edition, we set out on a journey through Costa Rica's mid-pandemic education system. We called it "Lessons Learned," and explored what the nation's schools have learned under extreme stress over 2020.

FEBRUARY 2021 - Women not numbers

Our second edition explored themes related to the life and death of women in Costa Rica: from the country's struggle to overcome its last hurdles in infant and maternal mortality, the faces of adolescent pregnancy, to a three-part series on the femicide.

JANUARY 2021 - Coffee and COVID

In our first edition, we experience a coffee harvest in Costa Rica turned upside down - and the impact of COVID-19 on the epic journey of migrants that make this iconic industry possible.

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