Marcela Cantero
Beatriz Benítez
Moisés Martínez

InquireFirst awards reporting grant to Central American team for regional health project


InquireFirst is pleased to announce that a team of Central American journalists has been awarded our second reporting grant for a regional health project which they will produce as part of our 2020 initiative to encourage cross-border reporting on science, health and the environment by Latin American journalists.

A partnership with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Department of Science Education, our Historias Sin Fronteras project was launched in February and will continue throughout the year with the awarding of four grants to teams of Latin American journalists for cross-border reporting projects.

The Central American team is led by Marcela Cantero, a science and health journalist with more than 20 years’ reporting experience. For 16 years, Cantero reported for La Nación, covering international conferences on cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. She now works with La Voz de Guanacaste, the first nonprofit, bilingual newspaper in Costa Rica.

Joining Cantero on the team are:

  • Moisés Martínez, an award-winning investigative journalist and political editor at La Prensa in Nicaragua
  • Beatriz Benítez, political news coordinator at the online magazine GatoEncerrado.news in El Salvador. Before joining GatoEncerrado, Benítez worked in the Political section of Diario El Mundo and later worked at La Prensa Gráfica

In response to this initiative, we received numerous regional health project proposals. Our international panel of judges said that each of the proposals demonstrated the experience and creativity of the Latin American journalists who participated.

The judges singled out the proposal by the Central American team, calling it “an ambitious, multi-platform reporting project.”

“The proposal is timely and embodies the idea of a cross-border journalism effort,” the judges said. “The team is made up of great, diverse reporters who bring their skills together to do the job.”

The project, which focuses on the regional health challenges posed by Covid-19, will be published in late July.

Iván Carrillo, editor-in-chief of Tec Review magazine in Mexico, will serve as project editor.  Carrillo is part of the 2016-2017 generation of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT. He is a contributor to National Geographic and the Latin American editions of Newsweek and has collaborated with the Discovery Channel and CNN en Español.

InquireFirst will be issuing two additional calls for proposals this year: In July, the editorial focus will be the conservation of water and/or the ocean, and in September the project will focus on nutrition, biotechnology and/or food production.

By launching this regional initiative, InquireFirst and HHMI’s Department of Science Education aim to convene, inspire and encourage the work of science writers in Latin America. Across Latin America, science journalism plays a vital role in providing rigorous and current information to increasingly diverse audiences. Through our support of collaborative projects, we hope to strengthen the network of experienced Latin American science writers by providing them with reporting resources and new outlets where they can publish their outstanding work.


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Gabriela MinjaresGabriela Minjares, an investigative journalist who is co-founder of La Verdad de Juárez in Ciudad Juárez, México, reports that her news organization received a grant in June 2019 from the International Center for Journalists which is providing seed funding and technical assistance to develop new business models to ensure the economic sustainability of La Verdad de Juárez. Gabriela credits InquireFirst’s February 2019 Transparency and Investigative Reporting Workshop with providing her with new ideas which she and her colleagues included in their successful grant proposal.

Aldo BenitezAldo Benítez, deputy editor of the in-depth Sunday section of La Nación in Asunción, Paraguay, conducted a 4-day workshop at the Escuela D Periodistas in May-June 2019 during which he taught Paraguayan journalists the tools and techniques he learned during InquireFirst’s February 2019 Transparency and Investigative Reporting Workshop. The subjects he covered included interview techniques and ethical treatment of sources; steps for reporting and writing an investigative report; and cybersecurity protocols.

Lucia MimiagaLucía Mimiaga, editor of the Investigative Unit of El Debate in Culiacán, Sinaloa, produced a documentary about femicides and the disappearance of women in Mexico which generated a high number of views on the newspaper’s FaceBook page. Lucía says the interview techniques she learned during our Transparency and Investigative Reporting Workshop helped her with the delicate and sensitive interviews needed for this project.


Luis J. Jiménez/InquireFirst

September 20-25, 2020
California State University Fullerton
Investigative Journalism and Government Accountability

Top U.S. journalists will join InquireFirst as speakers at this workshop, which will offer sessions on fact-checking, in-depth investigative reporting and cyber security.

The workshop will equip 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.

Luis J. Jiménez/InquireFirst

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Mexico City, México
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