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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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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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