InquireFirst leads regional Science and Health Journalism Seminar in Mexico City
MEXICO CITY – “Writing is music…language can be used in so many creative ways,” Deborah Blum, director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT, told almost 30 science and health journalists attending our regional workshop in Mexico City.
As Blum lead journalists through an interactive workshop on narrative science writing, she told them “we are the best people in the world to remind people that science is a part of their daily life.”
Blum was the keynote speaker on the final day of our March 31-April 3, 2019, regional Science and Health Journalism Seminar which InquireFirst organized in collaboration with MSD. Journalists from major media organizations in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico attended our first InquireFirst regional workshop conducted in Mexico City.
“Excellent,” one journalist said about Blum’s teaching session. “It is refreshing to hear how journalism is done in other places and to investigate and analyze the tools we have within our reach to do better journalism.”
This seminar focused on urgent health issues in Latin America such as cancer and diabetes and HIV, as well as public health issues such as resistance to vaccines and sexual and reproductive rights.
As the journalists heard from prominent MDs and researchers, Blum told them, “we recover lost science. There’s no one better to do it than science writers.”
Also joining us for an interactive session was Mariana Alvarado, training fellow for Google News Lab in Mexico, Central America and Colombia.
Alvarado showed journalists how to use Google on-line tools to verify information before publishing.
“We are in a unique and challenging moment for quality journalism,” she said. “It is more difficult to assure people that they are consuming accurate information.”
Among the speakers were:
- Dr. Carlos Espinal, head of the Global Health Consortium at Florida International University, who said that by 2050 microbial resistance to antibiotics will claim more lives worldwide than cancer.
- Dr. Javier Baez, who treated the first HIV case in Mexico. Today, Brazil has the highest reported number of HIV/AIDS in Latin America, followed by Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Peru and Chile.
- Dr. Carlos Barrios, director of the Oncology Research Center at Hospital São Lucas in Brazil, who noted that while the prevalence of cancer is lower in Latin America than in the United States, more people die of cancer in Latin America due to a complex and often inaccessible health care system.
- Dr. Carla Vizzotti, director of the National Program of Immunizations in Argentina, who spoke about the public resistance to vaccines. “Vaccines are victims of their own success,” she said.
- Dr. Claudio González, director of MSD Global Medical Affairs, who talked about the increase in diabetes in Latin American countries. Mexico ranks first in the region.
- Dr. Raffaela Schiavon, advisor on health and sexual and reproductive rights in México, who said that Latin America ranks second in teen pregnancy after Africa.
- Javier Picó, a partner in Life Sciences Consultants in Mexico City, who spoke about the impact of biopharmaceutical innovation in Latin America.
- Frank Lichtenberg, business professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Business, who said the medical industry is the most labor-intensive sector of the economy, making it an important engine of economic growth.
The response from the journalists attending the seminar was overwhelmingly positive.
“This was an enriching seminar which, unlike others, not only presented health issues but also gave instructions on tools like Google,” said one journalist.
“Worth its weight in gold for reporters,” said another journalist. “The more tools we have, the more we can document our work.”
In collaboration with
Mexican science journalists Pablo Mares and Sergio Vicke awarded InquireFirst scholarships to attend WCSJ2019
We're excited to announce that InquireFirst is providing full fellowships to Mexican science journalists Pablo Mares and Sergio Vicke to attend the 2019 Latin American Edition of the Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop and the World Conference of Science Journalists which will take place July 1-5 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Pablo is the founder of CientificoDigital.mx, which focuses on science, health and environmental coverage. He writes for the online environmental website Mongabay.com and for the health website Medscape.com. He is also a member of the Earth Journalism Network.
He has participated in the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Hawaii, in the Conference of Parties 13 (COP13) on Biodiversity in Cancun, as well as a journalism workshop in Costa Rica organized by LatinClima and the Stanley Foundation on the transition to carbon neutral.
Pablo is a professor of digital journalism at the University of Guadalajara and an experimental musician who has composed several musical pieces for news reports and radio programs.
Sergio is an environmental journalist who is the anchor of the program “Solo Preguntas y Respuestas” on Mexico’s Public Broadcasting System (SPR).
For more than two decades, Sergio was a familiar face on Television Azteca, where he worked as both a reporter and anchor. His coverage has taken him to 14 countries, as well as remote corners of Mexico, where he has covered hurricanes and floods and political and public security stories of national importance.
Over the years, Sergio has specialized in science, health and environment coverage, attending numerous journalism training programs, including the Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop, in Mexico and the United States. Sergio left TV Azteca in 2016 to work on environmental documentary projects from his home in Merida, Mexico.
A special thanks to our sponsor
Top U.S. journalists instruct Transparency and Investigative Reporting Workshop
FULLERTON, Calif. – Top U.S. journalists joined InquireFirst as speakers at our “Transparency and Investigative Reporting” workshop Feb. 25-March 1, when Latin American journalists traveled to Southern California to attend sessions on fact-checking, in-depth investigative reporting, cyber security and reporting with drones.
Among our speakers were:
- Ginger Thompson, senior reporter at ProPublica who specializes in immigration and organized crime coverage. Ginger and her colleagues at ProPublica won a Polk Award in the immigration category in February 2019 for their "Zero Tolerance" series on the Trump administration's policy at the border.
- Sal Rizzo, reporter at The Fact Checker at The Washington Post who previously covered New Jersey politics, courts, state finances and Gov. Chris Christie.
- Erik Olsen, a Los Angeles-based video journalist who previously was the West Coast video correspondent for Quartz. Before joining Quartz, Erik was a senior video journalist for The New York Times. He is now focused on reporting with drones.
- Eileen Truax, an InquireFirst journalist whose work focuses on immigration and politics and has been published in the U.S., Latin America and Spain. Eileen is the author of four books, including, “Dreamers: An Immigrant Generation’s Fight for Their American Dream.”
- Walter Baranger, who left his position as senior editor of news operations at The New York Times last year. One of Walter's many roles at the Times was to travel to foreign bureaus and shore up cyber security. Walter, who is now VP of InquireFirst, will give a presentation on protecting information and equipment from cyber attacks.
We held the workshop on the California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) campus, where Walter is on the journalism faculty. Our partners for this workshop are the Latino Communications Institute at the CSUF College of Communications and the Latino Journalists Club.
The workshop equipped a team of Latin American journalists with investigative skills to produce deeply reported and carefully fact-checked investigative reports that lead to greater transparency in their countries. The workshop also built professional alliances that encourage journalists to conduct cross-border reporting on high-impact regional investigative stories.
In Collaboration With
InquireFirst Executive Director Lynne Walker travels to Ecuador to lead investigative reporting workshops
GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador -- S. Lynne Walker, President and Executive Director of InquireFirst, traveled to Guayaquil and Quito, Ecuador, in January 2019 to instruct a series of interactive workshops titled “Investigative Journalism in High-Risk Situations.”
In Guayaquil, journalists from newspapers, television networks and online news sites participated in a nine-hour interactive training session conducted by Walker on January 14-15. During the first session – a spirited discussion that engaged the journalists in a dialogue about the “do’s and don’ts” of coverage -- Walker focused on techniques for gaining access and finding credible sources for investigative reports, as well as new approaches to interviewing subjects who have delicate information to share.
During the second day of the workshop series, which was conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Consulate in Guayaquil, Walker worked with journalists on organizing complex information and presenting it to audiences in a compelling way. She also conducted a session on security protocols for journalists working in high-risk situations.
Walker instructed a 3-hour workshop in Guayaquil with journalism students at Universidad Casa Grande on interview techniques for investigative reporters.
In Quito, Walker led a 9-hour interactive workshop for mid-career journalists from newspapers, news agencies, television networks and online news sites. She worked with the journalists on new techniques for gaining access to sensitive information, interviewing people who are reluctant to reveal sensitive information, and on the crucial issue of journalist safety.
It is clear that journalists in Quito are still deeply affected by the March 2018 kidnap and murder of El Comercio journalists Javier Ortega and Paúl Rivas and their driver, Efraín Segarra.
The Ecuadoran government said the journalists were kidnapped by a holdout faction of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the leftist rebel group that laid down its weapons and became a political party in 2016 after signing a peace accord with the Colombia government.
The murders of the journalists in this nation of 17 million stunned the people of Ecuador and shook their long-held perception of Ecuador as a tiny, peaceful country insulated from the drug violence that has plagued neighboring Colombia.
The journalists who participated in the workshop spoke about the dangers they face, the security measures they’re taking when reporting on dangerous stories and the limits they place on themselves during high-risk coverage.
Walker also participated in a panel discussion at Universidad San Francisco de Quito titled, “Border security, migration and high-risk coverage.” Joining her for the panel discussion were: Iván Flores, former Editor-in-Chief of La Hora; María Belén Arroyo, political editor of Vistazo; and Arturo Torres, former Editor-in-Chief of El Comercio. Arroyo and Torres spoke about their recently released book, “Rehenes,” and the question of journalist security in Ecuador.
The Investigative Journalism in High-Risk Situations workshops resulted in two important takeaways for reporters and their news organizations. First, the reporters said they planned to talk with top directors at their news organizations about implementing safety protocols. Second, they discussed the advantages and challenges of establishing a nationwide journalist network.
The workshop also encouraged journalists to keep striving for excellence in their investigative reporting.
Telerama reporter Leonidas Castro Rodríguez, who is based in Guayaquil, said that Walker’s workshop gave him clarity “about ideas such as focusing on research and sources in order to assemble the information puzzle” and he said it also made him aware “of safety recommendations that must be taken and how to identify when there are risks.”
“It was very useful to learn the experiences of a very experienced journalist who gave us her knowledge in a clear and didactic way,” Castro said.
Another reporter wrote, “I'm a young journalist and I've been covering difficult subjects for a relatively short time. I think the workshop with Lynne inspired me. It has motivated me to try to cover complex issues with a little less fear.”
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View photos by John Nelson/InquireFirst