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.

Investigative Journalism & Journalist Safety

Rocio Gallegos, editorial director of El Diario, looks at a map of Ciudad Juarez marked with the areas of the city where the worst outbreaks of drug violence have occurred. Photo by S. Lynne Walker/InquireFirst

 

May 15-16, 2017
Cuidad Juarez, Mexico
Investigative Journalism & Journalist Safety

During the two-day Investigative Journalism workshop for print, online, radio and television reporters and editors, Walker will focus on the urgent issue of journalist safety.

Walker will meet with the directors of media organizations to discuss the risks they face and ways to conduct investigative coverage without putting reporters’ lives in danger. She will also lead conversations with journalism students at two universities in Ciudad Juarez about the fundamentals of fact-based reporting as well as answering their questions about daily reporting.