A young tico at CNN
reporting adventure and
Speaking with Sebastian is
an adventure, in and of itself. An
unusual person with unusual stories.
from being an unemployed graduate in political science and economics to an
innovative and promising reporter working for a huge international news
channel. His journey included a bit of
chance combined with a lot of determination.
Sebastian Castro is the playful, creative type of person that builds his life
one day at a time, step by step. He says yes to opportunities, or simply
creates them through calculated risk when they are not directly served up.
For him, one must
not leave causality to chance.
Life is a product that each and every one of us can and should mold into their
Although he is only 24, talking to him and hearing his multifaceted story makes
it seem like you’re speaking with someone who has lived several lives.
However, Sebastian’s path to becoming the star iReporter for CNN in Spanish –
the youngest face of the leading news network in Latin America –
was a long process.
It all started in 2009, when Sebastian – then a student on scholarship in
Atlanta, decided to raise funds to help his compatriots affected by the
earthquake in Cinchona, Costa Rica.
He said: “A small table and a poster will not work. We need to communicate
more about what it’s like day to day, living there, for the affected people. ‘
Thus was born the ‘Tico Tent Project’: In the middle of the winter in Atlanta
and in a busy area of the university, Sebastian and his friends set out to
live day and night in tents ... just like those who had lost their homes in
Costa Rica . No amenities, no comforts – simply living as true refugees.
The signs and various activities surrounding the tents were quite powerful and
impacted all those that came across it. Indifference was not an option. By the end of the demonstration they had collected enough to finance
homes for three of the families devastated by the earthquake.
The uniqueness of this effort, coupled with Sebastian’s first iReport, quickly
got CNN’s attention. Before he knew it, Sebastian was offered an internship at
the Economy and Finance program. Sebastian milked the internship for all it was
worth, learning as much as he possibly could. Sadly, the internship eventually
came to a close, as did Sebastian’s time with CNN.
With a tinge of
sadness, but also bounding with the energy and drive that defines him,
Sebastian got a job working with FIFA during South Africa’s World Cup. Through
this work Sebastian found an opportunity to resume contact with CNN.
Alongside his work with FIFA, Sebastian started to generate and send iReports
to CNN, which later give way to a series of video adventures in other African
After the cup, as he was already in Africa he continued traveling the rest of
His sincere form of reporting and his unique style soon recaptured the
attention of CNN. And so, in January 2011 his first formal project with CNN
took shape: A two-month journey to the hidden corners of South America, “seeking
out and telling a different kind of story – revealing things that few even knew
And thus, the now famous iReport Adventurer was born ...
Today, a year and a half later, Sebastian Castro has become an icon of CNN’s
new-age journalism– and over time has gone on to complete major English
reporting assignments for CNN International.
Sebastian broadcast his adventures in big cities or small towns, from the
depths of the jungle or from great heights. Reporting on the Superbowl from the
middle of Times Square or more recently reporting from the heart of Guanacaste
depicting the beauty of the deep ocean.
us journalism experienced firsthand, from a profoundly human perspective.
How do you view present-day journalism, and the global manner in which
information circulates today?
“I think there is
a vicious cycle that is simply not good: Old time journalists got used to
exposing only calamities and destruction in the news, and over the years people
have gotten used to believing that this is all they should expect from the
I prefer to look
for positive journalism, a form of reporting that encourages people to
appreciate life and believe in the future.
I see citizen journalism as a way to integrate new information, as a direct
path to innovation, a path to fresh information and fresh ideas. Today
technology has democratized and globalized communication, and mass media is
evolving based on these new possibilities.
is not going away, but the rules are clearly changing.
At the young age of 24, you have the power to influence millions of people.
In general, it appears that there are increasingly more young people in roles
relevant to social, economic, scientific, academic and technological realms.
Do you believe this is a short-term anomaly or is our youth filling in a needed
Today’s youth gets it done ... That is very clear and I think it will become
more and more noticeable as time goes on. The world today is intense, full of
changes and youth epitomizes just that: Energy and adaptability.
In addition to the ease in which youth rapidly absorbs the new technology and
knowledge that is available, I also see the youth as more informed, aware,
engaged and determined to be a very active part of society.
The intense evolution of worldwide knowledge today has made it less useful to
have ‘vast experience’ in any one given field. The ability to learn and
adapt quickly far outweighs all of the extensive experience that has
accumulated in previous decades –
especially when considering what’s coming in the short term. Young people today
have advantages that they’ve historically never had in the past.
Today it is common to see multimillion dollar companies created by ‘boys’ that
are only 20 or 25 years old, scientists making a name for themselves before the
age of 30 or even prodigious inventors who are still in their teens.
Today the world
has a more mature youth that is better prepared for what lies ahead.
Costa Rica is a country of peace, harmony and respect – a place where
people live without major upheavals.
How much of the
Tico lifestyle factors into your reports?
Costa Rica ... is a fortunate country, and being tico is a tremendous honor and
a wise school for me. However, I think
my journalism is also heavily influenced by my worldview.
In Costa Rica we
have had it easier than in many other places, but seeing the world from other
perspectives you discover that for many, regardless of nationality, life is a
constant uphill battle. It’s important to understand this and appreciate what
Playas del Coco.
Following Sebastian’s style, we wanted to
give a twist to the interview so we invited this intrepid reporter to visit
Guanacaste, from where he made a note on the initiation into the world of
We now invite you to read the other articles of this issue on the virtual version of the magazine.