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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Medellín & Cali, Colombia


 

InquireFirst instructs investigative journalism workshops in Medellin and Cali

MEDELLIN, Colombia – InquireFirst Executive Director Lynne Walker met with journalists in Medellín and Cali, Colombia, July 29-August 3 to discuss new techniques for conducting investigative reporting.

During the programs organized by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá, Walker led interactive sessions with journalists who cover corruption, organized crime and public safety issues.  She focused her workshop sessions on journalist safety as well as effective interview techniques and narrative writing.

Some 30 journalists attended each of the two-day workshops in Medellin and Cali, with additional journalists from prominent media organizations joining the group for receptions at the close of each of the programs.

Walker met with directors of Colombia’s largest media organizations, as well as with leaders of journalism programs at top universities.

In Medellin, Walker met with journalists at El Colombiano, the second-largest daily newspaper in Colombia.  The hour-long session was moderated by Margarita Barrero, editor-in-chief of the newspaper.

In another first for InquireFirst, approximately 12 Venezuelan journalists joined the Cali workshop via live stream transmission for a day-long investigative reporting session.

Many of the Venezuelan journalists who participated had attended past workshops organized by Walker.


 

Lausanne, Switzerland


 

Person in blackboard
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 (https://bit.ly/2Owojqu), 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 https://inquirefirst.org/ .

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

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

 

 

 

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 Infobae.com, SciDev.net and Forbes Argentina.

 

 

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.

 

 

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)
  • Aleida Rueda, freelance science writer (Mexico)
  • 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


 

Merck-group
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.


 

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[lgc_column grid=”50″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”100″]

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Guayaquil, Ecuador


 

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Photos by David Nader/Universidad Casa Grande

InquireFirst Executive Director Lynne Walker travels to Ecuador to lead investigative reporting workshops

GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador -- S. Lynne Walker, President and Executive Director of InquireFirst, traveled to Guayaquil and Quito, Ecuador, in January 2019 to instruct a series of interactive workshops titled “Investigative Journalism in High-Risk Situations.”

In Guayaquil, journalists from newspapers, television networks and online news sites participated in a nine-hour interactive training session conducted by Walker on January 14-15. During the first session – a spirited discussion that engaged the journalists in a dialogue about the “do’s and don’ts” of coverage -- Walker focused on techniques for gaining access and finding credible sources for investigative reports, as well as new approaches to interviewing subjects who have delicate information to share.

During the second day of the workshop series, which was conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Consulate in Guayaquil, Walker worked with journalists on organizing complex information and presenting it to audiences in a compelling way.  She also conducted a session on security protocols for journalists working in high-risk situations.

Walker instructed a 3-hour workshop in Guayaquil with journalism students at Universidad Casa Grande on interview techniques for investigative reporters.

In Quito, Walker led a 9-hour interactive workshop for mid-career journalists from newspapers, news agencies, television networks and online news sites.  She worked with the journalists on new techniques for gaining access to sensitive information, interviewing people who are reluctant to reveal sensitive information, and on the crucial issue of journalist safety.

It is clear that journalists in Quito are still deeply affected by the March 2018 kidnap and murder of El Comercio journalists Javier Ortega and Paúl Rivas and their driver, Efraín Segarra.

The Ecuadoran government said the journalists were kidnapped by a holdout faction of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the leftist rebel group that laid down its weapons and became a political party in 2016 after signing a peace accord with the Colombia government.

The murders of the journalists in this nation of 17 million stunned the people of Ecuador and shook their long-held perception of Ecuador as a tiny, peaceful country insulated from the drug violence that has plagued neighboring Colombia.

The journalists who participated in the workshop spoke about the dangers they face, the security measures they’re taking when reporting on dangerous stories and the limits they place on themselves during high-risk coverage.

Walker also participated in a panel discussion at Universidad San Francisco de Quito titled, “Border security, migration and high-risk coverage.” Joining her for the panel discussion were: Iván Flores, former Editor-in-Chief of La Hora; María Belén Arroyo, political editor of Vistazo; and Arturo Torres, former Editor-in-Chief of El Comercio. Arroyo and Torres spoke about their recently released book, “Rehenes,” and the question of journalist security in Ecuador.

The Investigative Journalism in High-Risk Situations workshops resulted in two important takeaways for reporters and their news organizations.  First, the reporters said they planned to talk with top directors at their news organizations about implementing safety protocols.  Second, they discussed the advantages and challenges of establishing a nationwide journalist network.

The workshop also encouraged journalists to keep striving for excellence in their investigative reporting.

Telerama reporter Leonidas Castro Rodríguez, who is based in Guayaquil, said that Walker’s workshop gave him clarity “about ideas such as focusing on research and sources in order to assemble the information puzzle” and he said it also made him aware “of safety recommendations that must be taken and how to identify when there are risks.”

“It was very useful to learn the experiences of a very experienced journalist who gave us her knowledge in a clear and didactic way,” Castro said.

Another reporter wrote, “I'm a young journalist and I've been covering difficult subjects for a relatively short time. I think the workshop with Lynne inspired me. It has motivated me to try to cover complex issues with a little less fear.”

READ MORE ABOUT OUR SYMPOSIUMS

Mérida, Yucatán

Mérida, Yucatán

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.
Medellín & Cali, Colombia

Medellín & Cali, Colombia

MEDELLIN, Colombia – InquireFirst Executive Director Lynne Walker met with journalists in Medellín and Cali, Colombia, July 29-August 3 to discuss new techniques for conducting investigative reporting. During the programs organized by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá, Walker led interactive sessions with journalists who cover
Lausanne, Switzerland

Lausanne, Switzerland

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
Mexico City

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
Fullerton, Calif.

Fullerton, Calif.

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:
Guayaquil, Ecuador

Guayaquil, Ecuador

GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador -- S. Lynne Walker, President and Executive Director of InquireFirst, traveled to Guayaquil and Quito, Ecuador, in January 2019 to instruct a series of interactive workshops titled “Investigative Journalism in High-Risk Situations.” In Guayaquil, journalists from newspapers, television networks and online news sites participated in a nine-hour interactive
Palo Alto, Calif.

Palo Alto, Calif.

PALO ALTO, Calif. – Latin American science journalists were presented with a host of new professional development opportunities during the Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop at Stanford University. The June 17-21, 2018 workshop, organized by InquireFirst and Mexico City-based Fundación Ealy Ortiz, focused on training opportunities – with Latin
San José, Costa Rica

San José, Costa Rica

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Science and health journalism should not be limited by international borders. Complex new health threats such as Zika virus that occur in a “noisy” media environment require a new model of reporting, Andrew Revkin, strategic adviser on science and environmental journalism for The National Geographic
México City

México 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.
La Paz, Bolivia

La Paz, Bolivia

LA PAZ, Bolivia – These were the last days of class for a committed group of journalists who had been studying and reporting and writing all year to earn a masters-level certificate in investigative journalism. InquireFirst Executive Director Lynne Walker, who worked for several weeks with the journalists on line,
San Francisco, Calif.

San Francisco, Calif.

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
Asunción, Paraguay

Asunción, Paraguay

ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay – It’s been two years since Paraguay’s access to information law went into effect and reporters say they are often turned away when they use the law to request documents. As Paraguay becomes the latest country in Latin America to adopt an access law, some reporters say their
Honduras & Guatemala

Honduras & Guatemala

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – InquireFirst Executive Director Lynne Walker traveled to San Pedro Sula in June 2017 to meet with investigative journalists who cover crime, corruption and gang warfare in the most dangerous city in Honduras. San Pedro Sula is an industrial center, a business hub on the northern
Northern México

Northern México

S. Lynne Walker, executive director of InquireFirst, traveled to five Mexican states in September 2016 to instruct a series of investigative journalism and digital journalism workshops for reporters, editors, students and professors. More than 150 journalists, university students and professors in Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, Saltillo, Jalisco and Michoacan attended the
San Diego, Calif.

San Diego, Calif.

SAN DIEGO -- Journalists from Mexico, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Panama, attended InquireFirst’s inaugural international investigative journalism symposium Nov. 14-18, 2016, in San Diego. The program, organized and directed by InquireFirst Executive Director S. Lynne Walker and conducted entirely in Spanish, focused on investigative journalism in the digital age. Nineteen
Nogales, México

Nogales, México

NOGALES, Mexico – This is a city of commerce, a bustling town leaning into the U.S.-Mexico border where billions of dollars of tomatoes and squash and peppers are shipped into the United States every year along with shiny Ford Fusions, computer electronics and parts for the aerospace industry. Underneath this
Culiacán, México

Culiacán, México

CULIACAN, México -- Journalists are under seige in the northern Mexico state of Sinaloa, where notorious drug trafficker Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera was captured in January after a fierce gun battle with soldiers. Grenades have been hurled at El Debate, Culiacán's largest-circulation newspaper. Gunmen have opened fire with AK-47s
Guatemala City

Guatemala City

GUATEMALA CITY — InquireFirst.org Executive Director Lynne Walker instructed a week-long series of journalism training symposiums in Guatemala in February — the first under our organization’s international journalism symposium program. Reporters, editors, media owners and university students in Quetzaltenango, Huehuetenango and Guatemala City attended the symposiums, which focused on new

Palo Alto, Calif.


 

Science journalists from Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru attended the 2018 Latin America edition of the Jack. F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop at Stanford University. Photo courtesy of El Universal/ Germán Espinosa

New opportunities for Latin American reporters and editors announced during Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop

PALO ALTO, Calif. – Latin American science journalists were presented with a host of new professional development opportunities during the Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop at Stanford University.

The June 17-21, 2018 workshop, organized by InquireFirst and Mexico City-based Fundación Ealy Ortiz, focused on training opportunities – with Latin American science journalists as both participants and instructors – as well as steps to form a regional science journalism network.

Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, owner and publisher of the Mexico City daily newspaper El Universal, announced that he is establishing a multi-platform “high-impact” science section with “the highest standards for content and selection of infographics.”

The El Universal science section will be led by journalist Iván Carrillo, who anchors Los Observadores, a science program on Mexican television network TV Azteca, as well as writing for National Geographic América Latina and Newsweek en Español.

Ealy Ortiz also announced that he is forming an Institute for Science Journalism and International Training which will be headed by Enrique Bustamante, who also serves as director of Fundación Ealy Ortiz. The Institute will offer training to science journalists, researchers, scientists and science communicators, he said.

“An informed society is a society with a future,” Ealy Ortiz told an audience of science journalists, Stanford University professors and researchers, government officials and business leaders. “We must learn to correctly communicate discoveries, the alerts and measures that our population must take regarding the environment, human health and issues related to technological advances.”

Ealy Ortiz said he will be providing travel fellowships for Latin American and Caribbean science journalists to attend the 2019 World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

(Journalists can find more information about WCSJ2019 at this website: https://bit.ly/2N4JPiP)

Rosalind Reid, executive director of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writers, also announced fellowship opportunities that will support the participation by Latin American and Caribbean journalists in ScienceWriters 2018, a regional forum for science journalists organized by the National Association of Science Writers that will be held Oct. 12-16, 2018, in Washington D.C.

Iván Carrillo, anchor of TV Azteca's Los Observadores science program, was named editor of a multi-platform, high-impact section to be launched in upcoming months by Mexico's largest newspaper, El Universal. Photo courtesy of El Universal/ Germán Espinosa

The deadline to apply is July 17. Latin American and Caribbean journalists can find information about the travel fellowship at this website: https://bit.ly/2lHmR4x

Reid conducted a discussion during the Ealy Science Journalism workshop with Latin American reporters and editors on ways that U.S. and international organizations can support the growing cadre of science journalists in the region.

Among the measures suggested by Latin American journalists were:

  • Workshops that offer environmental investigative journalism training
  • Workshops specificially designed for science journalists who report for television audiences
  • Workshop sessions on effective ways to pitch editors on science, health and environment stories
  • A workshop on how to report on breaking environmental/health stories such as a global outbreak of an epidemic
  • Cross-border reporting initiatives to share resources and increase the impact of science, health and environment stories and
  • A website that gives higher visibility to science journalists by publishing and promoting the best Spanish-language reports in Latin America and the Caribbean

Dawn E. Garcia, director of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships (JSK) at Stanford University, urged Latin American science journalists to apply for the prestigious fellowship which provides a stipend to journalists to work on projects while they study at Stanford for the 10-month academic year.

Garcia noted that at least one of the 20 annual fellowships is designated for a Latin American journalist. Yet few journalists from Mexico or other Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America apply for a Knight fellowship. The majority of the Latin American applicants are from Brazil, she said.

Journalists can learn more about the Knight Fellowships at on the JSK website:

https://stanford.io/2KsXn62

 

A special thanks to our sponsor

 

San José, Costa Rica


 

Journalists from 12 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean made a field visit to La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica during a regional workshop organized by InquireFirst. Photo by José Diaz/Agencia Ojo por Ojo

Making a difference Zika workshop focuses on international collaboration

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Science and health journalism should not be limited by international borders. Complex new health threats such as Zika virus that occur in a “noisy” media environment require a new model of reporting, Andrew Revkin, strategic adviser on science and environmental journalism for The National Geographic Society, told reporters and editors at a regional science journalism workshop organized by InquireFirst in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica.

Revkin was one of several prominent science and environment editors from major U.S. media organizations who traveled to Costa Rica for a March 4-8, 2018, workshop to help journalists hone their science and health reporting skills on public health coverage such as Zika and vector-borne diseases.

Also joining InquireFirst at the Costa Rica workshop were Gary Stix, senior editor of Scientific American and Manuel Canales, senior graphics editor at National Geographic, who provided the journalists with new techniques for reaching people with crucial public health information.

As public health risks cross borders, Revkin said journalists need to conduct transnational reporting to keep their audiences informed. He encouraged journalists to “be courageous about avoiding overstatement, and to test assumptions – even your own.”

Revkin also underscored the effectiveness of starting and sustaining a conversation with the public and health experts. By building communication channels with the public on social media and radio call-in shows before a public crisis such as Zika occurs, journalists can more effectively communicate critical information about an outbreak, he said.

The regional workshop titled “Informing About Risks and Prevention of an Epidemic” was attended by 37 science and health journalists from 12 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

These journalists report on the most urgent science and health issues in their countries for national media organizations, including national television networks, national radio stations and the largest daily newspapers in the country. They were awarded scholarships based on their experience in the areas of science and health coverage, and also on their decision-making role in their news organization and/or their leadership in founding their own science journalism news organizations.

Journalists attended the workshop from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.

To ensure that journalists from these countries, all of which face a serious health risk posed by Zika and other vector-borne diseases, had the opportunity to attend the workshop, InquireFirst Executive Director S. Lynne Walker turned to her region-wide network to invite science journalists to attend.

Among the journalists invited were: the news editor of La Prensa, a national newspaper in Managua, Nicaragua; the founder of an online science/environmental news site in Guatemala who has attended three biennial meetings of the World Conference of Science Journalists in the UK, Qatar and Finland; the founder of an online science news site in San Salvador; the news director of a regional radio station in Estelí, Nicaragua; a science/environment reporter for Prensa Libre, the largest daily newspaper in Guatemala; a science/health reporter for the daily newspaper El Nuevo Diario in Nicaragua; the managing editor of El Sol de Hermosillo in Mexico; and a science/environment correspondent for the national news network Guatevision.

Walker also invited officials from health departments in Latin America who are charged with developing a communication strategy on Zika and other vector-borne diseases. Representatives from Mexico and Panama participated in a panel discussion, which included an M.D. from Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health, on effective strategies and challenges in reaching a mass audience with information on the risks and prevention of Zika.

Journalists heard a superb presentation by Dr. Gisela Herrera, a specialist in infectious diseases, who is conducting a Phase 2B Zika vaccine trial in Costa Rica in collaboration with the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and medical professionals in countries such as Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Brazil. The presentation by Dr. Herrera offered a regional context for research being done on Zika and clinical trials led by the United States to develop a vaccine.

A highlight of the workshop was a presentation on the relationship between the environment and vector-borne diseases by Carlos de la Rosa, Ph.D., director of La Selva Biological Station run by the Organization for Tropical Studies, which was founded by a consortium of scientists from U.S. universities and the University of Costa Rica. After hearing Dr. de la Rosa’s presentation, the journalists made a day-long field visit to La Selva learn about the interdependence of health and biodiversity during a two-hour hike in the tropical rain forest.

A prestigious panel of scientists and medical professionals worked with the journalists during an interactive session on effective preparation and interview techniques for science and health stories. On the panel were: Dr. María Luisa Ávila Agüero, former Minister of Health in Costa Rica; Dr. Pedro León Azofeifa, president of the National Academy of Sciences in Costa Rica; Dr. José Vega-Baudrit, Director of the National Laboratory of Nanotechnology in Costa Rica; and Dr. Henriette Raventós Vorst, professor and researcher at the Center for Biological Celular and Molecular Research at the University of Costa Rica.

To date, 16 news stories based on presentations during the workshop have been published in national newspapers and science news websites, or broadcast on national news networks in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The journalists’ feedback on the workshop was overwhelmingly positive.

“I appreciate the opportunity that you have given independent journalists to participate in your workshop,” wrote participant Lucy Calderón, founder of EcoCienciaGT, an online science/environmental news site in Guatemala. “Your support, provided through training programs, encourages us to continue offering quality journalism to our audiences in addition to strengthening our credibility with our public.”

Wrote another journalist, “The quality of the speakers and scientists was excellent.
Thank you for opening and creating spaces to share the realities faced by journalists around the world.”

Gabriela Salido, executive editor of El Sol de Hermosillo in northern Mexico, said, “I have the moral obligation to take the information from this workshop to my newsroom, and with the motivation that I have received during this program it will not be difficult to do so.”

México City


 

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

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.

“We all know the dangers of doing journalism,” Jacobson told reporters and editors at the TechCamp, commending them for “professionalism and courage.”

She denounced the murders of Mexican journalists Javier Valdez, an award-winning journalist who founded the newspaper Riodoce in Sinaloa state, and investigative journalist Miroslava Breach. And she expressed concern that until there is a concerted effort by the Mexican government to investigate and prosecute attacks on journalists, the killings will continue.

“We will not remain quiet about these crimes,” said Jacobson. “We will raise our voices until these crimes are investigated.

“Together, we can make a difference,” she said.

 

La Paz, Bolivia


 

Walker and InquireFirst media partner Fundación para el Periodismo team to offer training to investigative journalists in Bolivia

LA PAZ, Bolivia – These were the last days of class for a committed group of journalists who had been studying and reporting and writing all year to earn a masters-level certificate in investigative journalism.

InquireFirst Executive Director Lynne Walker, who worked for several weeks with the journalists on line, traveled to La Paz to instruct them on finding sources and on organizing and writing their stories.

The journalists were working on a wide range of important subjects as part of their final project and thesis. One journalist was working on a profile of a mafia family that controlled bars and table dance operations where human trafficking, prostitution and drug trafficking occurred. Another focused on the city’s lack of attention to crumbling infrastructure and change in climatic conditions that resulted in a dramatic decrease in water supply. A third was investigating the brutal mistreatment of domestic and wild animals and lack of enforcement due to nonexistent government funding.

At the conclusion of the Oct. 23-Nov. 11, 2017, workshop, journalists wrote Walker about all they had learned. “Thank you so much for sharing with us your values that we as journalists should put into practice every day,” La Paz journalist Susana Lopez wrote on Facebook.

The journalists’ projects were the result of an innovative program by the Fundación para el Periodismo (FPP), a nonprofit organization formed in La Paz in 2009 to train the next generation of journalists in Bolivia.

The Fundación, an InquireFirst media partner headed by prominent journalist Renan Estenssoro, has offered media training on a range of subjects since its inception. Now, the Fundación has expanded its outreach to journalists and media organizations by offering funding for investigative projects.

For the past year, the Fundación has provided funding on a project-by-project basis to two news organizations in La Paz: Agencia de Noticias Fides and Pagina Siete, both online publications.

The program is titled “Spotlight,” said Estenssoro, and it is supporting organizations like Pagina Siete that shine a light on important, but unreported stories in Bolivia.

In the case of Pagina Siete, “this media organization is shaping its profile as an investigative organization,” Estenssoro said.

The Fundación’s work was highlighted in a daily bulletin from the American Press Institute newsletter. Read more about the Fundación’s work: