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Journalist security is the focus of symposium in Culiacán, México

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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.

Upcoming Symposiums

InquireFirst Executive Director S. Lynne Walker will organize and instruct journalism symposiums in 2017 on investigative reporting and safety protocols, digital reporting and science, health and environment coverage in Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The symposiums will be presented in Spanish.

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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.

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June 12-16, 2017
Quetzaltenango and Guatemala City
Tools & Techniques for Investigative Reporting

In Guatemala City,  journalists will attend a two-day Tools & Techniques workshop led by Walker, who will meet separately with journalists in Quetzaltenango. The program will focus on developing investigative news stories, techniques for finding and interviewing sources, writing investigative reports and the ethics of investigative journalism.

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June 19-23, 2017
San Pedro Sula and Comayagua, Honduras
Engaging Audiences with In-Depth Reporting

In San Pedro Sula, Walker will lead a two-day workshop on accurate sourcing and producing thorough, balanced investigative journalism that results in greater transparency and good governance. Walker will also conduct intensive reporting workshops in the colonial city of Comayagua.

October 25-30, 2017
San Francisco, California
Bridging Science and Societies

InquireFirst and Mexico City-based Fundacion Ealy Ortiz will bring together 50 science journalists for a October 25 professional development workshop to present practical, hands-on training sessions to sharpen reporting skills on the most pressing science, health and environmental issues in the Western Hemisphere.

The 2017 Latin American Edition of the Jack F. Ealy Science Journalism Workshop workshop is designed to promote excellence in science, health and environmental coverage in Latin America and the Caribbean and to underscore the need for deeply reported science coverage by local and regional media organizations.

This year’s workshop is being organized as part of the World Conference of Science Journalists 2017 (WCSJ) in San Francisco, California. Journalists attending the workshop will also participate in the WCSJ, which will host 1,200 reporters and editors from 70 countries.

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