Austin Forum participants call for better protection of journalists covering drug trafficking, organized crime

Forty-five journalists and representatives from media organizations from 20 countries gathered Sept. 17-18, 2010, in Austin, Texas, for the 8th Austin Forum on Journalism in the Americas. The Forum is organized by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas and the Open Society Foundations' programs for Latin America and the media.

At the end of the Forum, which this year focused on coverage of drug trafficking and organized crime, participants issued the "Austin Declaration," calling on governments and international organizations to better protect the rights to life and information.

The Forum got underway just as news came that a 21-year-old photographer for El Diario de Juarez, Luis Carlos Santiago, was shot and killed and an intern was wounded.

Discussions of drug trafficking and organized crime framed the issue as a multi-dimensional problem, and participants provided regional perspectives by explaining how they have covered the issues in their respective countries.

Journalists also discussed new endeavors they are undertaking, such as a collaboration between the Argentine Journalism Forum (FOPEA), the Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism (Abraji), and the Paraguayan Journalists Forum (FOPEP) to offer a training seminar in November for the Triple Frontier of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.

The official report from the 8th Austin Forum will be published online. Information about the seven previous Austin Forums can be found here. Meanwhile, see here for an in-depth Knight Center story about this year's Forum.

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.