LA JOLLA – Investigative journalists from eight countries in Latin America and the Caribbean who attended a Nov. 10-14 professional workshop at the Institute of the Americas have formed a network to encourage and strengthen in-depth reporting on political, economic and environmental issues confronting the region.
The network, which the journalists named Periodismo de las Americas in recognition of the IOA workshop which was the impetus for forming the journalist organization, is open to reporters and editors through
out the region, said Marjuli Matheus, who serves on the board of directors of the National Association of Journalists in Caracas, Venezuela.
“We are very excited to apply everything that we learned and to be able to put into effect something tangible as a result of the workshop,” Matheus wrote in an email to IOA Vice President and Journalism Program Director Lynne Walker. “The name that we chose for the network is to honor the Institute, which gave us this opportunity.”
Matheus was one of 22 journalists who attended the five-day workshop, which focused on reporting and interview techniques, the use of data bases to conduct investigative reporting, social media tools and techniques for reporting breaking news stories, the dangers of covering organized crime in the U.S-Mexico border region and techniques to report such stories without putting journalists lives at risk; environmental and health investigative coverage; and journalism ethics.
The journalists attended from countries throughout the Americas – from Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Cuba.
Jessica Osorio, a journalist with Siglo 21 in Guatemala, said, “Given the situation in Latin America, providing journalists access to a workshop that equips them with the necessary tools for the exercise of their profession is essential to strengthening the processes of transparency and accountability. The media and access to information are essential tools to create public awareness and empowerment of society. If journalists continue training themselves through these activities, and even more through one of the most important organizations such as the Institute of the Americas, they will contribute to the development of their countries.”
During the week, the journalists met with expert speakers such as Andrew Becker, national security and border issues correspondent with California-based Center for Investigative Journalism; Pedro Enrique Armendares, executive director of Mexico City-based Center for Investigative Journalism; Robert Hernandez, visual journalist and professor at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
They also discussed investigative journalism techniques with Alfredo Corchado, Mexico City Bureau Chief for the Dallas Morning News and author of the recently published book, Midnight in Mexico; Susan White, executive editor of InsideClimateNews.org; Lynne Friedmann, editor of ScienceWriters magazine; Victor Clark Alfaro, director of the Bi-national Center for Human Rights in Tijuana; Adela Navarro, co-publisher of the Tijuana weekly newspaper Zeta; and Vicente Calderon, founder of TijuanaPress.com.
Journalists attending the workshop said the veteran editors and reporters who met with them during the workshop presented a wide range of information and professional advice that will help them as they work on in-depth stories in the future.
“Activities such as the Investigative Journalism workshop organized by the Institute of the Americas give us the opportunity to learn from excellent journalists and professors,” said journalist Mercedes Agüero, with La Nacion in Costa Rica. “And, perhaps more important, they allow us to create networks with colleagues from other countries with whom we can collaborate, publish our work, share experiences and spread our knowledge.”
The journalists established the Periodismo de las Americas network immediately after returning to their newsrooms from the Institute’s Investigative Journalism workshop. They now have a blog, which can be viewed at http://periodismodelasamericas.blogspot.com/
They also established a Twitter account, which is @periodismodla
Matheus encouraged journalists in Latin America and the Caribbean to publish their work on the blog. The only requirement, she said, is that journalists send a brief bio about themselves and their media organization. Journalists can send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org
The founding members of Periodismo de las Americas hope that their efforts will expand from a regional network to training programs for journalists in the Americas.
“Our idea for the future is to be able to offer training in countries in Latin America so that we can reach more journalists,” Matheus said.