Lausanne, Switzerland

Freelance science journalist Emiliano Rodríguez Mega selects a category for his cross-border science project during the Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop in Lausanne, Switzerland. Photo by Lynne Friedmann

InquireFirst leads regional Science and Health Journalism Seminar in Mexico City

LAUSANNE, Switzerland – We’re pleased to announce that InquireFirst has awarded our first reporting grants to a team of Latin American science writers to support their work on a cross-border regional health story.

The reporters on the team were selected during our Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop, which was held on July 1 in Lausanne, Switzerland during the 2019 World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ2019).

They were chosen by a team of judges who organized and evaluated two-minute lightening rounds of story pitches by 11 groups of Latin American science writers attending the workshop. The judges said the winning proposal was timely, relevant and focused on an underreported health issue in Latin America.

InquireFirst received support for the reporting grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education.  The project will be published in Tangible (, an online science magazine based in Mexico, as well as the online edition of El Universal, the largest daily newspaper in Mexico. Our projected publication date is October 2019,  so stay tuned for more information .

Reporting will be conducted in South America, Central America and Mexico. The journalists on the team are:

Margaret Lopez

Margaret López, a science and economic reporter based in Venezuela who is the editor of HispanoPost Media Group and a collaborator with

Valeria Roman

Valeria Román, a freelance science writer based in Argentina who writes about science, health and the environment for
Science, Nature and Scientific American, as well as, and Forbes Argentina.

Debbie Ponchner

Debbie Ponchner, a science journalist with more than 15 years of experience in print and digital media, as well as newsroom management. She is based in her home country of Costa Rica where she leads DP Comunicación Estratégica, a company devoted to improving the communication of science.

Ivan Carrillo

Iván Carrillo, editor of Tangible, will serve as editor of the cross-border health project. He is the anchor of the program Los Observadores on Mexico’s TV Azteca and a writer for National Geographic and Newsweek en Español. He has also worked with Discovery Channel and CNN en Español.

We were thrilled to once again collaborate with Fundación Ealy Ortiz on the 16th annual Latin American edition of the Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop at the WCSJ2019 in Lausanne.

Some 44 journalists from 16 Latin American countries attended our July 1 workshop, which was held before the WCSJ2019 inaugural ceremony.

InquireFirst was proud to sponsor the participation of two Mexican environmental journalists – Sergio Vicke and Pablo Mares – by providing them with full scholarships to attend the Ealy workshop and WCSJ2019.

Fundación Ealy Ortiz sponsored 12 journalists to attend from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Paraguay,  Chile and Mexico.

Our day-long workshop featured two interactive sessions on narrative science writing and shaping cross-border science stories – from idea to reality.

We also had a panel discussion on new economic models for online science journalism sites as well as a dynamic exchange on building a regional network of science journalists.

Among our speakers were:

  • Deborah Blum, director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT (U.S.)
  • Iván Carrillo, editor of Tangible (Mexico)
  • Thiago Medaglia, founder of Ambiental (Brazil)
  • Diego Arguedas Ortiz, founder of Ojo al Clima (Costa Rica)
  • Daniela Hirschfeld, Latin American correspondent with net (Uruguay)
  • André Biernath, reporter with Saúde E Vital (Brazil)
  • Aleida Rueda, freelance science writer (Mexico)
  • Lynne Friedmann, former editor of ScienceWriters (U.S.)
  • Rosalind Reid, executive director of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (U.S.)
  • Carlos Cienfuegos, director of the Faculty of Communication at Universidad Anáhuac (Mexico)
  • Germán Fajardo, M.D., president of the Latin American Association of Faculties and Schools of Medicine (Mexico)

Mexico City

Photo by Brett Gundlock

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

Fullerton, Calif.

Erik Olsen, who is a video journalist, filmmaker and avid drone pilot, tested out his drone during a session with Latin American journalists at our Transparency and Investigative Reporting workshop on the next generation of reporting. Photo by Luis J. Jimenez/InquireFirst

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