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

Nogales001 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.

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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.

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.

Xinhua/Alamy Stock Photo

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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