Best Miami Herald Reporter Miami 2014 - Jim Wyss
The trouble began in San Cristobal, a hilly town hugging the winding border between Venezuela and Colombia. Jim Wyss was there to talk about contraband, the black-market goods that flood across the border in a country where Hugo Chávez's Bolivarian Revolution continues to wreak havoc on the economy long after his death. A promised interview with a border general turned into hours of waiting, though, and when Wyss tried to bail, he was suddenly thrown into a car and whisked away to a military intelligence compound. This was no interview, he learned; he was under arrest. Such are the occupational hazards of life as the Miami Herald's Andean bureau chief. As one of the last full-time American daily staffers on the foreign-reporting beat, Wyss carries a heavy load from his home base in Bogotá. Yet it's to his credit that writing about an entire continent hasn't led to an influx of dry reports about economic trends or political horseraces. Instead, between his hard-hitting updates on regional conflicts, Wyss has turned in wild narratives about a War of the Worlds-like radio show terrifying Ecuador, graffiti art taking over Bogotá, and Colombian Christmas ads aimed at shaming guerrillas straight. And as that day in San Cristobal shows, he has put his neck on the line to find the stories. For almost 48 hours after his sudden arrest in November 2013, Wyss sat in jail cells wondering whether Maduro's government planned to make an example of the Yankee reporter who had poked too deeply into the troubled regime's issues. With the help of American diplomats, though, saner heads prevailed and Wyss was released. And then? He wrote a killer story about the whole ordeal, of course.