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.”

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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
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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
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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
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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
Continue
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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
Continue
group photo

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
Continue

photo
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
Continue
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
Continue
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
Continue
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
Continue
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
Continue
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
Continue