By Isabela Fraga and Natália Mazotte
The story begins with a tragic episode: On June 2, 2002, reporter Tim Lopes, of Rede Globo, was brutally tortured and killed while working on a story on child exploitation in the community of Vila Cruzeiro, in Rio de Janeiro. The crime shocked the country and raised awareness like never before about the need for journalists to protect themselves and unite behind Lopes' biggest cause: investigative journalism.
The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, which was founded around that time, joined Lopes' friends and colleagues to conduct their first official activity, the international seminar "Investigative Journalism: Techniques, Ethics and Dangers," which took place in the headquarters of the Journalists' Union of the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro, in August 2002. Several specialists from the U.S. and Latin America joined their Brazilian colleagues.
After the seminar, reporters and editors continued the discussions on a mailing list, which included several journalists that had already thought it was necessary to create an organization in Brazil like Investigative Reporters & Editors in the U.S. In December 2002, the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism, or Abraji, was born, and it quickly became one of the world's most important and active organizations in this field.
On Dec. 10, Abraji turned 10 years old. In the last decade, the organization has made several contributions to important areas of journalism, like safety, government transparency and training. With almost 4,000 members, 5,000 professionals who have benefited from their courses and seven international conferences, the organization is now preparing itself to host the largest meeting of journalists in the world on 2013, in Rio de Janeiro.
Along with Abraji’s traditional International Investigative Journalism Conference, the Global Investigative Journalism Conference (GIJC) and the Latin American Investigative Journalism Conference (Colpin) will take place from Oct. 12 to 15, 2013, organized by Peru’s Press and Society Institute (Ipys). Professor Rosental Alves, founder and director of the Knight Center, defined the 2013 event as the “World Cup of journalism.”
To celebrate the organization’s 10th anniversary, the Knight Center put together a special video report with the journalists that were behind the creation of Abraji, a collective effort to improve the quality of journalism in Brazil. The Knight Center spoke with the current president of Abraji, Marcelo Moreira (TV Globo), vice president José Roberto de Toledo (O Estado de S. Paulo), and the organization’s directors, Marcelo Beraba (O Estado de S. Paulo), Angelina Nunes (O Globo), Fernando Rodrigues (Folha de S. Paulo), Cláudio Tognolli (ECA/USP) and Rosental Calmon Alves (Knight Center).
Watch the video below to learn more about the organization’s history, its founders and the challenges for journalism in Brazil for the next ten years.
Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.