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

Marcela Cantero
Marcela Cantero
Beatriz Benítez
Beatriz Benítez
Evelyn-Boche
Evelyn Boche
Moisés Martínez
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 is now a contributor to 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.
  • Evelyn Boche, journalist for the Guatemalan newspaper elPeriódico, with 10 years of experience in investigative reporting. Before joining elPeriódico, Evelyn worked at the daily newspaper Siglo Veintiuno and ContraPoder magazine. In 2011, she did a professional internship in Madrid as part of the Balboa Program for Young Ibero-Americans.

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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LatinClima is a community of journalists and communicators and a capacity-building and information center on climate change for Latin America and the Caribbean. It was created in April 2015 by the Ministry of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica (MINAE), the Ministry of Housing, Land Management and Environment of Uruguay (MVOTMA) and the Tropical Agricultural Research and High Education Center (CATIE), with seed funding from the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ). It also receives support from the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) through the Arauclima Program and the Tropical Science Center (CCT).

LatinClima aims to raise awareness of climate change among the Spanish-speaking public, focusing on ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are causing global warming and adapting to the impact of climate change. It works closely with journalists, communicators, opinion leaders, professionals, experts and organizations on climate change topics. LatinClima can be accessed at www.latinclima.org.

 

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Mérida, Yucatán

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Photo by Luis J. Jiménez/InquireFirst

Biodiversity and climate change are the focus of InquireFirst environmental investigative journalism workshop

MERIDA, Mexico – “There’s no more important work than the work being done by journalists,” said Brian O’Donnell, director of Campaign for Nature, during a February 2020 environmental investigative journalism workshop organized by InquireFirst.

As the world witnesses a “massive acceleration in extinction” of species, coverage of biodiversity by environmental journalists can underscore the growing crisis and the need for large expanses of land and sea to be protected from logging, agriculture and fishing, he said.

O’Donnell told 21 Latin American journalists who attended the InquireFirst workshop focused on environmental investigative reporting that as climate change has dominated the news, biodiversity has gotten “just a fraction of the coverage.”

With the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity scheduled later this year, organizers and participants have set an ambitious goal.  “We need to protect at least 30% of the planet by 2030,” O’Donnell said.

Environmental journalists from throughout Latin America attended the four-day InquireFirst workshop in Merida, Mexico.  Print, radio, television and online science journalists from Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Ecuador and Mexico participated in the Feb. 16-20 workshop.

Brazil “is an exceedingly important player in this effort,” O’Donnell said of international biodiversity efforts. “For this strategy to work it has to be a global goal. We need to make progress as a planet. Brazil can either be a leader or a blocker.”

The InquireFirst workshop, which was sponsored by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and National Geographic, focused on cutting-edge environmental science as well as professional development sessions for journalists.

InquireFirst also announced the launch of its Cross-Border Science Journalism Project, a new initiative to encourage cross-border reporting by Latin American journalists on science, health and the environment, during the workshop. The initiative, which is being conducted in collaboration with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, will provide financial support in 2020 to four teams of Latin American journalists.

A two-person team, Alexa Vélez of Mongabay in Peru, and Fabiano Maisonnave of Folha de S. Paulo in Brazil, was selected for the first cross-border project, which will focus on the Amazon. InquireFirst has launched a new website on the initiative, HistoriassinFronteras.com.

Gael Almeida, senior international director for Latin America for The National Geographic Society, talked with journalists about effective strategies for pitching story proposals to National Geographic as well as upcoming grant opportunities.

Elisabeth Malkin, correspondent for EcoAmericas and former correspondent for The New York Times in Mexico, spoke about collaborating across borders to conduct environmental investigative journalism in Latin America.

During an intensive training session, journalists worked on fact-checking and the use of data bases for collaborative journalism with Ronny Rojas, editor of Centro Latinoamericano de Investigacion Periodistica and adjunct profession at CUNY’s Craig Newmark School of Journalism.

Journalists also attended a half-day session with Jodi Upton, professor and Knight Chair of data and explanatory journalism at Syracuse University, on accessing data for science and environmental journalism.

During a day-long field visit to Celestún, a bioreserve for flamingos and hundreds of other bird species on the Yucatan Peninsula, journalists met with José Isaías Uh Canul, president of Guardianes de los Manglares, a cooperative which protects mangroves and ecosystems in the estuaries of Celestún.

They also talked with two conservation program directors at Pronatura Peninsula de Yucatán, Ernesto Gómez and Anuar Hernández, about the successful rescue of ecosystems in Celestún.

The visit to Celestún included a canoe trip through the mangroves that allowed journalists to witness firsthand the impact of conservation efforts.  This unique visit “gave us the opportunity to see the issue in situ,” one journalist said.

Journalists said the InquireFirst workshop prompted them to think about opportunities for collaboration on environmental projects and it suggested new approaches for environmental reporting.

“I have learned new things and I’ve made important contacts,” a journalist based in South America said at the conclusion of the workshop. “The workshop served as a stimulus for new ideas. I’m going home with recharged batteries.”

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Science and Health Symposium

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November 2020
Science and Health Symposium

This seminar will focus on urgent health issues in Latin America such as Covid-19, cancer and diabetes. Some 40 journalists from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico will attend the high-level virtual seminar which will offer scientific and practical journalism sessions for science writers whose thorough, accurate coverage of health issues is vital to the well-being of people in their countries.

InquireFirst launches Cross-Border Science Journalism Project in Merida, Mexico

InquireFirst launches Cross-Border Science Journalism Project in Merida, Mexico

 

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Fabiano Maisonnave (left), Amazon correspondent for the influential Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, and Alexa Vélez, senior editor of Mongabay Latin America, react during an InquireFirst workshop to the announcement that they will receive a reporting grant for a project focusing on the environmentally sensitive Amazon. Photo by Luis J. Jiménez/InquireFirst

MERIDA, Mexico – InquireFirst is pleased to announce our first regional reporting project which will be conducted by two South American reporters as part of a new 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, the Cross-Border Science Journalism Project was launched in February with the awarding of financial support to Fabiano Maisonnave, Amazon correspondent for the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, and Alexa Vélez, senior editor for the online environmental news site Mongabay Latin America.

The project proposed by Maisonnave and Vélez was selected during an environmental investigative journalism workshop organized by InquireFirst in Merida, Mexico from Feb. 16-20, 2020. The project, which focuses on the environmentally sensitive Amazon, will be published in May 2020.

Maisonnave, who is based in Manaus, Brazil, has been reporting from the Amazon for the past three years.  As an international journalist, his reporting has taken him to 32 countries and he has reported from Caracas, Washington, D.C. and Beijing.  Maisonnave has a master’s degree in history from the University of Connecticut and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 2016.

Vélez is the senior editor of Mongabay Latin America, a media organization headquartered in Lima, Peru that focuses on global environmental issues. Founded in 1999, Mongabay has teams of journalists in the United States, Indonesia, Latin America, India and Brazil.  Vélez’s work has been recognized with numerous reporting and editing awards.

The editor of the project is Iván Carrillo, a science journalist with more than 20 years of experience as a writer, editor and television anchor. Carrillo is part of the 2016-2017 generation of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT. He is an independent contributor to National Geographic and the Latin American editions of Newsweek and has collaborated with Discovery Channel and CNN en Español.

In 2020, InquireFirst will issue three additional calls for cross-border reporting proposals. In March, the editorial focus will be on health, in May the focus will be on water and/or ocean conservation, and in July the focus will be on nutrition, biotechnology and/or food production.

To ensure credibility and fairness, an international panel of judges will select the winning team in each category.  The winners will be announced on InquireFirst.org.

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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A New Cross-Border Science Journalism Initiative for Latin America

A New Cross-Border Science Journalism
Initiative for Latin America

 

SEATTLE (Feb. 10, 2020) – InquireFirst is pleased to announce a new 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, the Cross-Border Science Journalism Project will launch this month with the awarding of financial support to a team of Latin American science writers who will produce a cross-border environmental investigative project. The winning team of up to four reporters will be selected during an environmental investigative journalism workshop in Merida, Mexico that starts on February 16, 2020.

In 2020, three additional calls for proposals will be issued.  In March, the editorial focus will be on health, in May the focus will be on water and/or ocean conservation, and in July the focus will be on nutrition, biotechnology and/or food production.

The projects will be published in Spanish by media partners in Latin America and in English by U.S. media partners.  The reports will also be published by InquireFirst, a journalism nonprofit based in San Diego, Calif.

S. Lynne Walker-PhotoThe Cross-Border Science Journalism Project is directed by S. Lynne Walker, executive director of InquireFirst and a Pulitzer Prize finalist who spent much of her career reporting from Mexico.

Her reporting took her to remote corners of Mexico and Central America and earned the Maria Moors Cabot Prize from Columbia University’s School of Journalism for outstanding coverage of Latin America.

Walker has conducted Spanish-language journalism workshops in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia, Bolivia, Paraguay, Ecuador, Argentina and at the World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ) in San Francisco and Lausanne, Switzerland.

Iván Carrillo, a science journalist with more than 20 years of experience as a writer, editor and television anchor, serves as editor of the project.

Carrillo is part of the 2016-2017 generation of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT.

He is an independent contributor to National Geographic and the Latin American editions of Newsweek and has collaborated with Discovery Channel and CNN en Español.

Carrillo has reported in more than 20 countries and is a lecturer on journalism, storytelling and creativity.

To ensure credibility and fairness, an international panel of judges will select the winning team in each category.  The winners will be announced on InquireFirst.org

The members of our 2020 panel of judges are:

Aleszu-BajakAleszu Bajak, a science and data journalist who teaches and manages the graduate programs at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism.

Bajak is the editor of LatinAmericanScience.org, a resource for science news and opinion in Latin America.

He has been a freelance reporter in Latin America, a producer for the public radio show Science Friday, and once worked in the gene therapy department at Weill Cornell.

From 2013-2014, Bajak was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT. Bajak grew up in New Jersey, Germany and Colombia and has lived in Chile, Peru and Argentina.

Jane-RobertsJane Roberts, the deputy editor of Undark, a non-profit, editorially-independent digital magazine dedicated to exploring the intersection of science and society.

She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned a B.A. in Journalism and Economics, with a minor in Environmental Studies.

Before joining Undark, Roberts interned with the wealth team at Forbes, where she valued and wrote about some of the country’s richest billionaires.

She joined Undark as associate editor in 2016 and has since developed its widely respected fact-checking program.

Robert Hernandez PhotoRobert Hernández, an associate professor of professional practice at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, who focuses on finding ways that technology and journalism can empower people, inform reporting and storytelling and engage community.

Hernández has been an international keynote speaker and moderator and gave a TEDxKC talk on the future of news and misinformation.

Prior to joining Annenberg, Hernández worked at The Seattle Times, where he helped shape and execute the vision for the website.

He also worked as a web designer and consultant for El Salvador’s largest daily newspaper, La Prensa Gráfica.

The HHMI Department of Science Education supported the first cross-border science journalism collaboration initiated by Walker and Carrillo in 2019, when a proposal by a team of four Latin American science writers was selected from among a number of worthy proposals during a science journalism workshop held at the WCSJ in Lausanne.

The result was an in-depth, multi-faceted transgender multimedia report carried out by reporters from Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina and Venezuela and edited by Carrillo that combined complex scientific information with a compelling and compassionate narrative.

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.

About InquireFirst

Since its founding in January 2016, InquireFirst has supported the work of Latin American journalists by organizing and directing Spanish-language workshops designed to provide reporters and editors with the tools they need to better inform their audiences in an increasingly diverse and rapidly changing media landscape. Workshops are offered on a variety of subjects including investigative journalism, digital storytelling, and science, health and environment coverage. The workshops are conducted throughout Latin America as well as in the United States.

About HHMI’s Department of Science Education

HHMI, headquartered in Chevy Chase, Md., is the leading private nonprofit supporter of scientific research and science education in the United States. The Department of Science Education supports storytelling and science literacy through its media partnerships and its HHMI Tangled Bank Studios unit, which creates powerful films about science and scientists for broad audiences. Its Undergraduate Grant Program aims to transform science education in universities and colleges, and its BioInteractive division produces and provides free educational resources to educators and millions of students around the globe. For more information, visit www.hhmi.org.

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We’re headed to Mérida, México in 2020!

We’re headed to Mérida, México in 2020!

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photo by Luis J Jiménez/InquireFirst

We’re off to a great start in 2020 with our first-ever environmental investigative journalism workshop on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

On February 16, more than 20 science and environment journalists from the Amazon and Andean regions of South America and from cities throughout Mexico will arrive in Yucatan’s capital city of Merida for our four-day workshop.

We’d like to thank our sponsors — the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and National Geographic Society – for their support of our regional environmental workshop.

During this special edition of our science, health and environment program, InquireFirst will provide Latin American environmental journalists with intensive training on issues related to climate change, biodiversity, clean water and air, environmental policies and the impact of deforestation in the Western Hemisphere.

Journalists will participate in interactive sessions on new techniques for conducting environmental investigative journalism, as well as data journalism and fact-finding protocols. A strong emphasis will be placed on climate change and its impact on Latin America, as well as making global problems understandable and relevant at a local level.

A key session during the workshop will be a visit to a biological reserve on the Yucatan Peninsula to meet with farmers trying to end centuries of deforestation and rely on ecotourism as a means to generate income. Our discussion will focus on the economic and environmental viability of this effort to rescue critical areas of forest from destruction.

 

Join us via Facebook and Twitter @inquirefirst as we travel to Merida for this unprecedented science journalism program!

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Gabriela Minjares

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.