San Francisco, Calif.


 

InquireFirst Executive Director Lynne Walker (left) moderates a panel at the Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop with independant science journalist Sergio Vicke (center) and Enrique Bustamante, director of Mexico City-based Fundación Ealy Ortiz A.C. Photo courtesy of El Universal/Germán Espinosa

Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop in San Francisco underscores need for regional science journalism network

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 Fundación Ealy Ortiz A.C. of México City and InquireFirst of San Diego, Calif., was underscored by seasoned science journalists who are looking beyond their borders to cover regional science, public health and environmental issues.

As global issues such as climate change, Zika virus and water shortages increasingly dominate the news, Latin American and Caribbean journalists agreed that their stories would be strengthened by collaboration across international borders to provide audiences a regional perspective.

InquireFirst and Fundación Ealy Ortiz A.C. organized and directed the 2017 Latin American edition of the Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop on October 25, 2017, in San Francisco, Calif., in collaboration with the World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ).

The 2017 international science journalism forum marked the first time the WCSJ held its biennial conference in the United States. Almost 1,400 science journalists from 70 countries attended the Oct. 26-30 WCSJ conference.

During the Ealy workshop, Ivan Carrillo, anchor of the Los Observadores program on México ’s TV Azteca and frequent contributor to National Geographic, discussed the need for a regional network with fellow panelists Valeria Román, cofounder of the Science Journalists Network of Argentina; Emiliano Rodríguez Mega, independent science journalist in México who is studying for a master’s degree in science journalism in New York; and Luisa Massarani, of Brazil, the Latin America and Caribbean coordinator for SciDev.Net.

In another session, reporters and editors participated in an interactive session on mining hidden science stories led by science journalists Debbie Ponchner of Costa Rica and Federico Kukso of Argentina.

Journalists discussed separating scientific fact from fiction during a panel moderated by Lynne Friedmann, editor of ScienceWriters magazine. Friedmann was joined on the panel by Nora Bar, science editor at La Nación in Argentina, and science and environment writer Mariana León, with El Financiero Bloomberg in México City.

In a panel moderated by InquireFirst Executive Director Lynne Walker, Mexican freelance journalist Sergio Vicke and Fundación Ealy Ortiz Director Enrique Bustamante discussed sustainable economic models for online science journalism organizations.

During a luncheon presentation sponsored by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, three prominent conservation scientists -- Rob Wallace, Nuria Bernal Hoverud and James Aparicio -- talked about their work at Identidad Madidi in Bolivia to explore and demonstrate the biodiversity in the South American country.

As part of this year’s Jack F. Ealy workshop, 15 science journalists received Ealy fellowships to attend the San Francisco workshop and the WCSJ. The journalists are working at media organizations in México , Costa Rica, Colombia, Perú, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile and Jamaica.

Fundación Ealy Ortiz A.C.  is a nonprofit organization founded in 2004 by Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, publisher and owner of the daily newspaper El Universal in México . Since its inception, the Fundación has awarded more than 1,500 scholarships to journalists at more than 500 news organizations in Latin America to attend workshops the organization has conducted in Latin America, Europe and the United States.

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Asunción, Paraguay


 

Executive Director Lynne Walker travels to Paraguay to meet with journalists, officials on access to information law

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 requests have been denied and they have been asked why they want the information, a violation of the spirit of the law.

InquireFirst Executive Director Lynne Walker traveled to Paraguay in September 2017 to meet with reporters, editors and government officials about implementation of the law.

During meetings at leading newspapers – ABC Color, Ultima Hora and La Nación -- as well as radio and TV stations, some reporters said government officials have delivered requested documents within the 15-day legal time limit, but others said their requests for information had been turned down without explanation.

Walker was in Paraguay on September 28, UNESCO’s International Day for Universal Access. During her visit, she met with Vice Minister of Justice Weldon Black and Controller General Jose Garcia to discuss best practices for implementing the law.

InquireFirst Executive Director Lynne Walker talks with journalists and government officials in Caacupé, Paraguay, about best practices for the access to information law which went into effect in September 2015. Photo by Desirée Esquivel

Elida Acosta Davalos, the federal government’s director of access to public information, acknowledged that historically “Paraguay has had a secretive culture” and said, “we are pushing people to use the law.”

“If people don’t ask for information, what’s going to happen? We are going to return to that secretive culture again,” she said.

Since the law went into effect in September 2015, more than 4,000 requests for information have been filed online, with 83 percent resolved. But the budget for Vice Minister of Justice Black’s office is only $20,000 a year.

Journalists in Caacupé, Paraguay, a two-hour drive from the capital of Asunción, said government officials were not trained to handle requests before the law went into effect so they’re often in a quandary about how to respond. Because the officials don’t know how much information to release, they err on the side of denying requests, reporters said.

Walker met with about 50 officials and employees of FOIA units in government information and communication offices and engaged in a spirited Q&A session.

She also talked about fake news, ethics and access to information during a live interview on the program “El Péndulo” conducted by Carlos Peralta in Asunción.

Walker noted that four countries in Latin America and the Caribbean still do not have access to information laws – Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba and Costa Rica – and she talked about the fundamental importance of an access law to strengthening democracy.

During her week-long visit to Asunción, Walker also instructed a six-hour investigative journalism class at the Universidad Autónoma de Asunción which was attended by about 60 journalists, journalism students and law students.

Honduras & Guatemala


 

InquireFirst Executive Director Lynne Walker talks about the importance of press freedom during an interview at La Prensa, the leading daily newspaper in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Photo by Yoseph Amaya/La Prensa

Executive Director Lynne Walker leads investigative journalism workshops in Honduras and 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 coast with more daily flights than the capital of Tegucigalpa.  But it is also a center of gang activity, making it the most violent city in the most dangerous country in Latin America.

Against that backdrop, more than 60 journalists attended two-day investigative journalism workshops led by Walker, a career journalist who for 15 years reported on Mexico, Central America and Cuba as Mexico City bureau chief for Copley News Service. The workshops were held at the Colegio de Periodistas and organized by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa.

Walker directed interactive workshops designed to help journalists think creatively as they search for credible sources for investigative stories.  All too often, stories are blocked by official sources who refuse to provide information.  In that reporting environment, Walker led journalists through a series of reporting scenarios in which they used their experience, their wits and their intuition to find untapped sources who can provide reliable information for in-depth news stories.

Walker challenged journalists to think outside the box, to push themselves to conduct in-depth reporting while maintaining a clear sense of journalistic ethics. And she underscored the need for investigative journalists to always be mindful of their personal safety.

In the colonial city of Comayagua, some 80 journalists attended two-day investigative journalism workshops led by Walker. Many of the journalists traveled from the distant regions of Marcala, La Paz, Tela and Progreso to attend the professional development programs.

Walker also traveled to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, to lead an investigative journalism workshop for print, radio and television reporters.  During the day-long session at the Rafael Landivar University, Walker talked with journalists about the importance of their work in reducing corruption and strengthening democracy. She discussed an international code of ethics adopted by major news organizations around the world.  And she reviewed protocols for journalist safety, urging journalists to be ever mindful that no news story is worth their life.

In Guatemala City, Walker worked with 40 journalists and students on investigative techniques.  Several of the journalists in Guatemala City and Quetzaltenango had previously attended journalism workshops organized by Walker in San Diego, California.

Northern México


 

InquireFirst Executive Director S. Lynne Walker (center) instructed a journalism workshop for investigative reporters and editors in Monterrey, México.

Executive Director Lynne Walker travels to 5 Mexican states to instruct journalism workshops

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 journalism training sessions, which were organized by U.S. Consulates in Guadalajara, Monterrey and Ciudad Juarez and instructed by Walker in Spanish.

In Chihuahua City, Walker instructed a six-hour workshop over two days for print, radio and broadcast journalists, some of whom traveled several hours from distant cities to attend. The workshop focused on three key subjects: investigative reporting techniques, interview and writing techniques and an internationally accepted code of ethics for investigative reporters.

Walker also led a workshop on financing methods for on-line investigative promotes journalism. And she met with members of the Free Journalism Network (Red de Periodismo Libre), which promotes professional development while strengthening the investigative skills of colleagues covering crime and corruption.

In Coahuila, Saltillo, Walker led a Free the Press seminar that consisted of an interactive workshop attended by more than 40 journalists on developing an investigative story. More than 200 undergraduate students of communications, psychology, social work and social sciences at the Autonomous University of Coahuila, a state university founded in 1957, attended a lecture by Walker on “Borders, Migration and Investigative Reporting: Telling the Complex Story of International Migration.” Walker also met with academics and faculty to discuss the curriculum of the university’s new journalism program.

InquireFirst Executive Director S. Lynne Walker

Walker instructed a virtual session with journalists in Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros as well as a seminar at the Benjamin Franklin Library in Monterrey with journalists from Monterrey, Saltillo and San Luis Potosi.

During the dynamic, interactive sessions, Walker worked with journalists on interview techniques to help them drill down on investigative subjects and get information for detail-rich, well-sourced investigative reports. Walker then worked with journalists on ways to organize the complex material into compelling investigative stories.

In Morelia, Michoacán, Walker met with approximately 25 reporters and editors to help them develop new ways of identifying credible sources for their investigative reports and focused the session on working with journalists to develop a story on international organized crime.

At Lake Chapala, Walker led a round-table discussion with regional/rural reporters who talked about the challenges they face in presenting credible news coverage.

Some 35 journalists at El Informador, Guadalajara’s newspaper of record, attended an interactive workshop led by Walker, who then met with the paper’s top editors about the future of print media in Mexico.

The final two days of the program were conducted in collaboration with the University of Guadalajara’s Digital Journalism Center. The program focused on reporting, organizing and writing investigative stories, journalism ethics and new financial models for online investigative journalism. Walker also conducted one-on-one consultations with the journalists participating in the program.

San Diego, Calif.


 

Robert Hernandez, InquireFirst board member and USC Annenberg professor reminded journalists of the "rules of the road: journalism first, technology second. We always follow our ethics. Social media does not replace good journalism." Photo by Luis J. Jiménez/InquireFirst

Digital Storytelling: Latin American journalists learn to take the lead in an ever-changing reporting environment

SAN DIEGO -- The future of journalism lies in being able to tell stories visually.

“If your intention is to be a leader you have to think of new ways to tell your stories,” Raghu Vadarevu, Editor of Digital Storytelling/Global Enterprise for The Associated Press, told journalists from Latin America and the Caribbean who attended an Aug. 21-25, 2017, workshop organized and directed by InquireFirst on Digital Storytelling.  “We can’t lose site of this: we’re still trying to tell stories.  We just have to use all the new tools at our disposal to do that.”

During an intensive session with Vadarevu, journalist participants learned about cutting edge approaches to telling their stories online. Vadarevu talked about using new techniques such as cartoons to tell a complex news story.  He described how The Associated Press used illustrations to tell the story of a girl who ran away from ISIS, detailing her treacherous journey with beautiful and moving drawings.

Raghu Vadarevu, Associated Press editor of digital storytelling/global enterprise, told journalists, "If your intention is to be a leader you have to think of new ways to tell your stories.” Photo by Luis J. Jiménez/InquireFirst

“You need to learn to communicate with people who can produce the visuals,” he said.

Vadarevu walked journalists through the steps for telling a digital story.

Discuss opportunities for digital elements before field reporting, he said.   And remember that “we don’t need an elaborate website to tell a story.  We’re gearing a lot of our content to the mobile experience. We can tell it in pieces on social media,” Vadarevu said.

He reminded journalists that “telling a story doesn’t end with publication.  It continues on social media. With social media, there’s a lot more opportunity to engage with readers and users.”

The workshop, organized by InquireFirst Executive Director Lynne Walker and held on the University of San Diego campus, provided journalist participants with tools and techniques for reporting on multiple platforms as well as financing methods and organizational advice for their online media organizations. Journalists attended the program from México, Honduras, Bolivia, Ecuador and Cuba.

Robert Hernández, InquireFirst board member and USC Annenberg professor of professional practice, demonstrated low-cost and no-cost apps that journalists can use to tell their stories more effectively and deliver them to audiences real-time. But Hernández reminded the journalists of the “rules of the road: journalism first, technology second.  We always follow our ethics. Social media does not replace good journalism.”

Walter Baranger, a journalism professor at California State University, Fullerton, and former senior editor of news operations at The New York Times, spoke with journalists about cyber security and measures that reporters and photojournalists can take to protect their work and their equipment from private and state-sponsored hackers.

Walter Baranger, a journalism professor at California State University, Fullerton, and vice president of InquireFirst, spoke with journalists about cyber security and measures reporters and photojournalists can take to protect their work from private and state-sponsored hackers. Photo by Luis J. Jiménez/InquireFirst

Janine Warner, co-founder of SembraMedia, reviewed effective strategies for economic sustainability of online news organizations. She cited her recently completed study, Inflection Point, that showed that Latin America’s online organizations are strong and expanding.

There are more than 600 online news organizations now operating in Latin America and Spain, Warner said, and 49 percent of those news organizations have been operating for more than four years, a clear sign of sustainability.  About 66 percent of those organizations had four or more sources of funding, demonstrating a diversity of funding sources which is key to economic stability.

The Digital Storytelling workshop organized by InquireFirst served to strengthen the resolve of journalists to launch or expand online news organizations, which are an effective means of reaching the population – especially young people – and delivering credible, precise, thorough reporting on the important events taking place in their countries.

At the conclusion of the workshop one journalist wrote, “I am leaving with a new idea to start my own online news site.”  Another said, “You can be sure that everything I learned will be shared with others to improve the information we provide to our audiences.”


19 Latin American journalists attend inaugural InquireFirst symposium

Eileen Truax, InquireFirst journalist and author of "Dreamers: An Immigrant Generation's Fight for Their American Dream," spoke with reporters and editors at the November 2016 international investigative journalism symposium. Photo by Luis J. Jiménez/InquireFirst

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 Latin American journalists met with prestigious U.S. journalists and professors who offered in-depth instruction on digital reporting, data reporting and visualization of data, video reporting and economic models for conducting investigative reporting on a limited budget.

A panel discussion with Susan White, executive director of InquireFirst who has edited three Pulitzer Prize-winning projects at three U.S. media organizations, focused on techniques for reporting and writing a prize-winning investigative project. White was joined on the panel by Dave Hasemyer, an investigative reporter for InsideClimateNews who is a winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize and a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize.

Erik Olsen, West Coast video correspondent for Quartz and former senior video journalist for The New York Times, taught a half-day session on new techniques for reporting and editing news documentaries for websites and mobile devices. Photo by Luis J. Jiménez/InquireFirst

Robert Hernandez, associate professor of professional practice at the University of Southern California and InquireFirst board member, instructed a three-hour workshop on digital journalism and low-cost and no-cost digital tools available to journalists to enhance their reporting and website presentation. Erik Olsen, West Coast video correspondent for Quartz and former senior video journalist for The New York Times, talked about techniques and equipment for producing visual news reports.

Danielle Cervantes, InquireFirst journalist and professor of investigative data journalism at Point Loma University in San Diego, taught a workshop on data research.

Eileen Truax, InquireFirst journalist and author of Dreamers, An Immigrant Generation’s Fight for Their American Dream, spoke with journalists about ways to conduct investigative journalism with limited resources.

Walker taught a half-day session that provided journalists with practical techniques to gain access to credible and confirmed information when official channels to information are blocked. This interactive session encouraged journalists to stretch beyond the typical search for news sources and to think analytically about ways to conduct investigations without putting their lives at risk.

Danielle Cervantes, InquireFirst journalist and professor of investigative and data journalism at Point Loma Nazarene University, showed reporters and editors how to mine data to conduct in-depth reporting. Photo by Luis J. Jiménez/InquireFirst

During the workshop, journalists met in Tijuana with Adela Navarro, co-publisher of the weekly newspaper Zeta, and her investigative team to discuss freedom of expression and the risks and responsibilities of reporting in dangerous conditions. They discussed border issues with San Diego State University Professor Victor Clark Alfaro, director of an independent center in Tijuana, the Bi-National Center for Human Rights. And they spoke about public security issues with Vicente Calderon, founder of the online news site TijuanaPress.com and editorial coordinator of Newsweek Baja California.

The journalists also engaged in a discussion with four regional experts on post-electoral implications for issues such as immigration, the bi-national relationship and the U.S.-Mexico border.

As a result of the InquireFirst symposium, journalists proposed several projects for reporters and editors in their own cities as well as for university journalism students, creating a multiplier effect for the training provided during the program. Their intent is to ensure that the experience and knowledge they gained extends beyond the confines of the San Diego classroom and into newsrooms and journalism organizations throughout Latin America.

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Nogales, México


 

Workshop on high-risk reporting held in Mexican border city of Nogales

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 sunbaked city, another kind of product is crossing into the United States. Through a spider web of tunnels bored into a vast drainage system that connects Nogales, Mexico, to Nogales, Arizona, billions of dollars of marijuana and other drugs are being shipped to the U.S. market.

InquireFirst Executive Director Lynne Walker traveled to Nogales, Mexico, to meet with journalists to discuss new techniques for investigative and high-risk reporting. During the March 15-16 workshop organized by the U.S. Consulate in Nogales and the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana, Walker spoke about tools and methods for finding and interviewing sources as well as organizing and writing investigative reports.

Walker also focused on cyber security, noting that investigative journalists are at risk because they actively use digital tools to contact sources and share information. She told Nogales journalists that they are particularly vulnerable to cyber threats when covering corruption, organized crime, human rights issues and abuses by authorities.

In addition to taking widely recommended measures such as using strong passwords and anti-virus software, Walker also suggested using secure email with encryption and tools that help users remain anonymous on the Internet.

Nogales01

The intensive workshop was designed to encourage a frank exchange with investigative journalists about the challenges they face as they probe sensitive subjects and present them to their audiences.

“The information you provided was invaluable,” said Lorenzo De la Fuente, director general of El Diario de Sonora.

In a separate session, Walker discussed safety protocols with investigative journalists. She told the Nogales journalists that the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has identified Mexico as one of the most dangerous countries outside a war zone for journalists.

As journalists report on dangerous subjects such as human trafficking and drug smuggling, Walker admonished them to follow protocols to ensure their safety. “No story is worth your life,” she said.

Walker also met with journalism students at the Nogales campus of the University of Sonora to discuss a code of ethics for reporting via social media.

Culiacán, México


 

Journalist security is the focus of symposium in 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 on the reception desk of Mazatlán office of the daily newspaper Noroeste. Journalists have been questioned at gunpoint. Some have disappeared. Others have been found dead.

In Sinaloa, a state described by a former governor as the "birthplace of drug trafficking in México," InquireFirst Executive Director Lynne Walker led a two-day symposium on investigative journalism and journalist safety.

Walker conducted the Spanish-language symposium Feb. 23-24 at the invitation of the U.S. Consulate in Hermosillo and the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana. It was the first investigative journalism workshop held in Culiacán for reporters and editors working in Sinaloa's major cities.

Investigative reporting teams from the state's leading newspapers -- El Debate and Noroeste -- attended, some traveling from the cities of Los Mochis and Mazatlán. Also attending were journalists from local newspapers as well as students and professors from the Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa, which hosted the program.

Walker worked with the investigative teams on tools and techniques for gaining access and finding sources. And she discussed interview techniques and organizing and writing an investigative story.

InquireFirst Executive Director S. Lynne Walker was joined by 30 journalists in Culiacan, Mexico, for a symposium on investigative journalism and journalist safety. Photo by Leobardo Montero

Walker also talked with journalists about protocols for protecting themselves and their colleagues while covering high-risk investigative stories.

"No story is worth your life," Walker told them. "Each one of you knows the boundaries, the lines that cannot be crossed during your reporting. Do not cross those lines. We don't want to mourn the loss of any more colleagues."

Walker was a Latin América correspondent for Copley News Service for 15 years, covering México, Central América and Cuba from her base in México City. She was recognized with national and international journalism awards for her coverage, and in particular for her in-depth reports on organized crime and immigration.

Guatemala City


 

audience2

Executive Director Lynne Walker leads journalism symposium in 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 techniques for investigative journalism. The symposiums, held Feb. 7-13, were organized by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala.

Almost 700 journalists, university students and professors attended the investigative journalism sessions, which were instructed by Walker in Spanish. Among the subjects discussed were developing an investigative news story, interviewing sources and organizing and writing investigative stories.

Iris Pérez, a journalist with LaRed.com who attended Walker's symposium at Universidad Mariano Gálvez in Guatemala City, said, "After your presentation, my perspective about journalism has changed."

Walker was also interviewed by television and radio stations across the country about the importance of investigative journalism, freedom of expression and journalist safety. She stressed the need for in-depth reporting as the country strives to strengthen its democracy and engage its citizens in decisions that affect the future of their country.

AudienceThe journalism training symposiums offered by InquireFirst aim to provide journalists in regions throughout the world with specialized training in investigative reporting that covers a wide range of subjects including corruption and organized crime, white collar fraud and the environment.

Walker is an experienced lecturer in Latin America on reporting techniques for journalists. For the past six years, she has offered week-long symposiums in Latin American countries including México, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Bolivia and Argentina.

At InquireFirst, Walker will lead the journalism symposium program which will be focused on offering training to journalists in Latín América, the Middle East and África as well as to university students who represent the next generation of journalists.