InquireFirst to organize March workshop in Costa Rica on Zika virus

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Forty science journalists from 12 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean will attend an InquireFirst regional workshop on the Zika virus and other vector-borne diseases.

Latin American scientists and researchers will meet with journalists in San Jose, Costa Rica, to discuss advances in research on the Zika virus as well as clinical trials to develop a vaccine.

The March 4-8 workshop will place a special emphasis on techniques for interviewing scientists to more effectively explain complex medical information to mass audiences.

During interactive sessions, prominent U.S. and Latin American journalists and communication specialists will work with the reporters and editors on preparing for interviews, asking difficult questions and telling the story of the Zika virus in a convincing and compelling way.

The journalists will also make a day-long field visit to La Selva Biological Station, one of the most important sites in the world for research on tropical rain forest.

La Selva Biological Station is comprised of 3,900 acres of tropical wet forests in northern Costa Rica and averages over 13 feet of rainfall a year. More than 240 scientific papers are published yearly from research conducted at the site.

InquireFirst is organizing the workshop in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica. Some 24 journalists will travel from México, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panamá, Colombia, Bolívia, Paraguay, Perú, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic to attend the program. Approximately 16 journalists from Costa Rica will also attend.

U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica Sharon Day will preside over the opening ceremony and will host an evening reception for journalists and scientists in her residence.

Walter Baranger, former senior editor of news operations at The New York Times, joined InquireFirst as Vice President in August 2017.

Baranger took a buyout from The Times earlier this year and headed to California to join the journalism faculty of California State University, Fullerton. We're pleased that he also joined InquireFirst as we expand our organization.

In his role as InquireFirst Vice President, Baranger will focus on strategies for growing our nonprofit news organization, which offers professional development programs for journalists in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Baranger has a deep understanding of the challenges facing journalists in Latin America and around the world. During his 27-year tenure at The Times, he logged more than 3 million airline miles traveling to more than 60 countries and nearly all of the U.S. states in support of the Times newsroom.

If you haven’t already met Baranger in his travels across the globe, check out his bio.

Fake News and the Future of Journalism

Robert Hernandez, InquireFirst board member and journalism professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, talks about the challenges journalists face in this troubling new environment of fake news.  During his TedXTalk, Hernandez underscores the need for credible, accurate reporting.


Internet presents new challenges for journalism in the era of fake news

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson and prominent Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui, center, met with journalists from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras during the inauguration of a December 2017 TechCamp in Mexico City.

MEXICO CITY – Prominent Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui said the internet presents “a great light and a great shadow ” for journalism in an era of fake news.

On the opening day of a journalism TechCamp in Mexico City, Aristegui acknowledged “there is serious questioning” of the work of journalists.

“We have to investigate, corroborate and disseminate information,” she said. “We have to learn day by day (about new technology) without turning our backs on content. It is here that professional journalism plays a crucial role.”

InquireFirst Executive Director S. Lynne Walker joined the TechCamp as an instructor, with “boots-on-the-ground” investigative journalism training for almost 60 reporters from Mexico, Guatemala, El Savador and Honduras.

The TechCamp gave journalists new digital tools and suggested a range of financing methods to produce and publish in-depth reporting.

“It is important that we journalists find ways to continue professionalizing ourselves and to be ethically independent,” Aristegui said. “It is essential for democracy.”

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson inaugurated the December 7-8, 2017, TechCamp by expressing concern about the alarming increase in murders of Mexican journalists. Read more


Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop in San Francisco underscores need for regional science journalism network

InquireFirst Executive Director Lynne Walker (left) moderates a panel at the Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop with independent science journalist Sergio Vicke (center) and Enrique Bustamante, director of Mexico City-based Fundación Ealy Ortiz A.C.   Photo courtesy of El Universal/Germán Espinosa

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – The 2017 Latin America edition of the Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop sparked a commitment by more than 70 journalists from 15 countries to begin building a regional science journalism network.

The need for a network, which has long been a priority for workshop organizers Fundación Ealy Ortiz A.C. of México City and InquireFirst of San Diego, Calif., was underscored by seasoned science journalists who are looking beyond their borders to cover regional science, public health and environmental issues.

As global issues such as climate change, Zika virus and water shortages increasingly dominate the news, Latin American and Caribbean journalists agreed that their stories would be strengthened by collaboration across international borders to provide audiences a regional perspective.

InquireFirst and Fundación Ealy Ortiz A.C. organized and directed the 2017 Latin American edition of the Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop on October 25, 2017, in San Francisco, Calif., in collaboration with the World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ).

The 2017 international science journalism forum marked the first time the WCSJ held its biennial conference in the United States. Almost 1,400 science journalists from 70 countries attended the Oct. 26-30 WCSJ conference.  Read more

Drilling Down on America's Water Supply

Will the United States continue to be a country where people can turn on the tap and assume the water that comes out is safe and affordable? In this, the first major report in InquireFirst’s long-term drinking water project, reporter Elizabeth Douglass travels to Lake Station, Indiana, to begin answering that question by exploring the growing pressure on cities and towns to privatize their municipal drinking water systems.

View photos by John Nelson/InquireFirst

2017 Symposiums

InquireFirst Executive Director S. Lynne Walker will organize and instruct journalism symposiums in 2017 on investigative reporting and safety protocols, digital storytelling and science, health and environment coverage in Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The symposiums will be presented in Spanish.


December 7-8, 2017
México City, México
Technology, Innovation and Journalism

Executive Director Lynne Walker will participate as a trainer in a México City TechCamp organized by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs.

The TechCamp aims to increase the digital literacy, media safety and investigative journalism skills of almost 60 participants from México, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The participants are working as independent journalists, as part of investigative units or in traditional media outlets on issues where they face censorship or physical harm.


LE PICTORIUM/Alamy Stock Photo

November 9-11, 2017
La Paz, Bolivia
Investigative Journalism in the Digital Age

Reporters and editors in the capital city of La Paz will attend a 14-hour workshop instructed by InquireFirst Executive Director Lynne Walker on Investigative Journalism in the Digital Age. The workshop, organized by the Fundacion para el Periodismo, is being offered to journalists studying for a Master of Journalism degree.

Read more