Gabriel García Márquez, investigative journalist

In 1955, eight crew members of a Colombian naval destroyer in the Caribbean were swept overboard by a giant wave. Luis Alejandro Velasco, a sailor who spent ten days on a life raft without food or water, was the only survivor. The editor of the Colombian newspaper El Espectadorassigned the story to a twenty-seven-year-old reporter who had been dabbling in fiction and had a reputation as a gifted feature writer: Gabriel García Márquez.

The young journalist quickly uncovered a military scandal. As his fourteen-part series revealed, the sailors owed their deaths not to a storm, as Colombia’s military dictatorship had claimed, but to naval negligence. [. . .] By the time the series ended, El Espectador’s circulation had almost doubled. The public always likes an exposé, but what made the stories so popular was not simply the explosive revelations of military incompetence. García Márquez had managed to transform Velasco’s account into a narrative so dramatic and compelling that readers lined up in front of the newspaper’s offices, waiting to buy copies.

See the full article in Columbia Journalism Review. Via Second Pass.