Paraguayan journalist wins first Bajo la Lupa investigative reporting grant; Mexican journalist named runner-up

Paraguayan journalist wins first Bajo la Lupa investigative reporting grant; Mexican journalist named runner-up

Laura Sanchez Rey
Laura Sanchez Rey
Aldo Benitez
Aldo Benitez

InquireFirst is excited to announce that Paraguayan journalist Aldo Benitez has been awarded our first investigative reporting grant for an environmental project which he will produce as part of our Bajo la Lupa initiative to support investigative journalism by Latin American journalists.

Our international panel of judges also selected a project proposed by Mexican investigative journalist Laura Sanchez Rey as the runner-up in this first call for proposals.

The judges said both proposals “address matters of great public interest, which in one way or another directly impact people’s lives.”

“They are clear research projects, with specific and relevant complaints, from which it can be inferred that the justice system has fallen short in the countries where the stories take place,” the judges wrote. “The informative value of the investigations, their possible transnational impact and the environment in which they take place make it necessary to provide all the support and collaboration possible to help these projects come to fruition.”

Both Benitez and Sanchez Rey will receive reporting grants under the Bajo la Lupa iniciative. Their projects will be published in early 2021.

Benitez, who is the deputy Sunday editor at La Nacion in Paraguay, was hooked on journalism at the age of 19 when he attended a weekly “Young Journalists” program at the prestigious national newspaper in Asuncion, ABC Color.  He worked at ABC Color for more than a decade, covering the economy and sports.  But he said his real interest lay in covering “the rivers, the forests, what was happening with the environment.”

Since joining La Nacion in 2016, he has focused on investigative reporting and more recently has found ways to merge investigative and environmental reporting. For the past two years he has collaborated with Mongabay LatAm, an online new site focused on conversation and the environment.

Sanchez Rey is a reporter and editor based in Mexico City whose work focuses on government accountability, public policies and access to information. She has 16 years of experience writing and reporting across a variety of platforms, including print, television and online media.

Sanchez Rey was formerly based in the Tijuana – San Diego border region, covering crime, corruption and binational affairs such as immigration, justice, and cross-border policies. Her Bajo la Lupa project focuses on one of the least accountable and most opaque agencies in the Mexican government.

In response to the call for proposals, Bajo la Lupa received numerous investigative project ideas from journalists in Mexico, Guatemala and South America. The panel of judges said that each of the proposals demonstrated the experience and knowledge of the Latin American journalists who participated. 

The judges singled out Benitez’s proposal, saying it “has great narrative potential, as well as the possibility to expose environmental damage that has been going on for far too long with impunity.”

 “These qualities made this project the winner,” the judges said.

Of Sanchez Rey’s proposal, the judges said her “powerful initial reporting based out of Mexico led us to consider the project for the support of InquireFirst as well.”

alejandra-gutierrez
Alejandra Gutierrez Valdizan

Alejandra Gutiérrez Valdizán, a prominent reporter and editor with experience in written, audiovisual and digital journalism, will serve as project editor. She has focused her career on in-depth and narrative journalism, specializing in issues of human rights, transitional justice, the environment, and security and violence.

Her work, individually or as a team, has been a finalist for the Daniel Pearl Awards (2013), the Gabriel García Márquez Prize of the FNPI (2014), and the Inter-American Press Society (2013/2014). She has been a university professor, teaching investigative journalism courses and instructing workshops and trainings on communication, journalism and editorial and digital media management.

In December 2017, she co-founded Agencia Ocote in Guatemala, where she is the director. At Agencia Ocote she designs, coordinates and edits the journalistic projects of Agencia Ocote and manages the communication, investigation and editorial services of the Servicios Ocote company.

Bajo la Lupa is funded by Anthony S. Da Vigo, a California attorney who has successfully argued immigration cases of Latin American asylum seekers. Most recently, he funded the completion of a water project in Nicaragua, providing well water distribution to a church, a school and 65 homes.

This new initiative, launched in June 2020, supports in-depth and original reporting by Latin American journalists to expose corruption and abuses of power. The objective of Bajo la Lupa is to encourage investigative journalism that reveals hidden actions by the powerful that affect the citizens of Latin America with the goal of promoting transparency and rule of law.

South American team awarded InquireFirst reporting grant for environmental project

South American team awarded InquireFirst reporting grant for environmental project

Eduardo Franco Berton
Eduardo Franco Berton
Gustavo Faleiros
Gustavo Faleiros

InquireFirst is pleased to announce that a team of South American journalists has been awarded our third reporting grant for a regional environmental 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 award four grants this year to teams of Latin American journalists for cross-border reporting projects.

The South American team is comprised of two journalists – Gustavo Faleiros, founder of InfoAmazonia in Brazil, and Eduardo Franco Berton, founder of Red Ambiental de Información (RAI) in Bolivia.

Faleiros specializes in data-driven reporting. In 2012, he launched InfoAmazonia, a digital map that uses satellite and other publicly available data to monitor the Amazon rain forest. He helped create the Amazon Communications Network, which trained journalists and produced 200 stories about environmental issues in the region. He was twice selected as a Knight International Journalism Fellow for his work to promote data literacy and geojournalism.

Faleiros began his career at Valor Economico, Brazil’s largest financial newspaper, and has also worked at the Brazilian environmental news site O Eco. He has also written for publications such as Scientific AmericanThe Guardian and Folha de S. Paulo. Faleiros earned his master’s degree in environment, politics and globalization from King’s College London and a degree in journalism from the Catholic University of Sao Paulo.

Franco Berton is an environmental journalist and nature photographer with 10 years of experience. He began his career as a lawyer, specializing in environmental law for conservation organizations. In 2016, he founded RAI, a news platform on environment, conservation and environmental sciences with the mission of giving voice to biodiversity and vulnerable groups in Bolivia and Latin America.

He has focused on investigating wildlife trafficking, environmental crimes and overexploitation of natural resources in Latin America. In November 2019, he received an honorable mention in the Latin American Prize for Investigative Journalism COLPIN 2019, for his investigative work titled “A Trip to the Jaguar’s Black Market.” This year, he will be recognized with an honorable mention in investigative reporting during the Society of Environmental Journalists 2020 Award for his story published in National Geographic, titled “Poaching Threatens South America’s Only Bear Species.”

In response to our call for proposals, Historias Sin Fronteras received numerous project proposals focused on water and/or ocean conservation. 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 South American team, calling it “an exciting exploration” of the multi-faceted and complex issue of large-scale water projects and the danger they present to the environment.

“Supported by infographics and other multimedia elements, we look forward to seeing how this story comes together,” the judges said.

The project will be published in November.

Iván Carrillo, editor-in-chief of Tec Review magazine in Mexico and co-founder of Historias Sin Fronteras, 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 an additional call for proposals later this year. In October, the editorial focus will be 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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InquireFirst announces editor and panel of judges for Bajo la Lupa investigative journalism grants

InquireFirst announces editor and panel of judges
for Bajo la Lupa investigative journalism grants

InquireFirst is pleased to introduce the distinguished panel of judges who will be reviewing this year’s submissions to our Bajo la Lupa grants program for Latin American investigative journalists along with the editor who will work with journalists on the projects.

Our Bajo la Lupa Program will award two grants this year to teams of up to four journalists to conduct systematic, deep and original investigations on corruption and abuses of power with the aim of promoting transparency and the rule of law in Latin America.

The long-term effect of our journalism programs at InquireFirst is to build a close collaboration with journalists in Latin America with the conviction that through collaborative cross-border work we can strengthen journalism and give citizens the information they need to make better decisions.

Our first call for proposals will be issued in August 2020, with a submission deadline of August 24.  The judges will announce their decision in September.

Our judges are:

Ginger-Thompson
Ginger Thompson

 

Ginger Thompson, chief of correspondents at ProPublica. A Pulitzer Prize winner, Ginger previously spent 15 years at The New York Times as the Mexico City bureau chief and as an investigative reporter. Her work has exposed the consequences of Washington’s policies in Latin America, particularly policies involving immigration, political upheaval and the fight against drug cartels.

Her work has won the Maria Moors Cabot Prize, the Selden Ring Award for investigative reporting, an InterAmerican Press Association Award, and an Overseas Press Club Award. She was part of a team of national reporters at The Times that was awarded a 2000 Pulitzer Prize for the series “How Race is Lived in America.” She was also part of a team of reporters at ProPublica whose coverage of the Trump Administration’s Zero Tolerance policy won numerous other awards, including a Polk Award, a Peabody Award, a Tobenkin Prize, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

 

Ronny-Rojas
Ronny Rojas

 

Ronny Rojas, a Costa Rican journalist and adjunct professor at the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at City University of New York (CUNY) as well as a collaborator with the Centro Latinoamericano de Investigación Periodística (CLIP). Previously, Ronny was head of the Data Unit of Univision Noticias Digital in Miami and in 2018-19 he was a Fellow of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship Program at Stanford University.


His work has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Emmy for best story in Spanish (2018), the Ortega y Gasset Award (2017), the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the Global Shining Light Award (2015) that was awarded by the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN). He was also part of the team that won the 2019 Gabo Award for the documentary “America First: The legacy of a migratory raid.”

 

Luis-Trelles
Luis Trelles

 

Luis Trelles, senior editor with Latino USA, a radio show and podcast of National Public Radio (NPR). Based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Luis was previously an editor and producer with the Spanish-language narrative journalism podcast Radio Ambulante, where he reported on and told stories from Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, among other places.


In 2018, Luis was selected as a Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  He has also been a professor in the Bilingual Program of the Craig Newmark Journalism School at City University of New York (CUNY).

alejandra-gutierrez
Alejandra Gutierrez

 

 

Alejandra Gutiérrez Valdizán, the co-founder and publisher of Agencia Ocote, will serve as the project editor.

Alejandra is a prominent reporter and editor with experience in written, audiovisual and digital journalism. She has focused her career on in-depth and narrative journalism, specializing in issues of human rights, transitional justice, the environment, and security and violence.

Alejandra has been a journalist and editorial coordinator at estePaís and at La Revista Diario de Centro América. For five years, until February 2017, she was editor and editorial director of the Guatemalan digital media Plaza Pública.

Her work, individually or as a team, has been a finalist for the Daniel Pearl Awards (2013), the Gabriel García Márquez Prize of the FNPI (2014), and the Inter-American Press Society (2013/2014). She has also been a university professor, teaching investigative journalism courses and instructing workshops and trainings on communication, journalism and editorial and digital media management.

InquireFirst’s Bajo la Lupa Project was founded through a generous contribution by Anthony S. Da Vigo, a California attorney who is committed to improving the lives of Latin Americans. 

He has been recognized for providing pro bono legal services for the Refugee Asylum Panel of Sacramento County, and for accepting, investigating and winning the case of an El Salvadoran applicant marked for assassination by death squads.

Most recently, he funded the completion a water project in Nicaragua, providing well water distribution to a church, a school, and 65 homes.


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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