Connectas launches digital platform for transnational investigative journalism in Latin America

By Claudia Bueno and Silvia Higuera

Convinced that investigative journalism reaches beyond local contexts, nonprofit organization Connectas, which is based in Bogotá, Colombia, launched a new project to promote the production and distribution of transnational investigative journalism.

Connectas Hub is the new platform through which journalists from the region share knowledge about investigative techniques and information of public interest that is key to the development of the Americas. The community now has 143 members from 15 countries.

"At Connectas, we started to work on something called the six proposals for journalism of the new millennium. One of these is that the journalist's work in the new millennium is not the work of a hermit, it is in collaboration with other journalists and other knowledge," said Carlos Eduardo Huertas, director of Connectas, in conversation with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. "Another of these proposals is to look at the facts beyond the immediate reality. Understanding that a situation or a story of a specific context can have leads and connections to other environments."

So, with the idea that journalistic work can have greater impact and reach a regional level, Connectas Hub has relationships with 10 media partners, including Global VoicesPlaza PúblicaEl Nuevo HeraldEl Espectador, among others.

The main topics of the work published in this community have to do with governance, human rights or things of high political impact, said Huertas, who added that one of the facts that has consolidated this effort "are the many awards" that some of these projects have already received at the national or international level.

Projects like Caso Chevron: stories of the forgotten in EcuadorPeña Nieto’s White House from Mexico; or transnational investigations like The New Latino Exodus, from Colombia and Chile; and Why are they killing women in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador?, are some of the works being recognized.

"One of its features is that it joins more experienced colleagues, 'mentors', with colleagues who are in a process of consolidating their careers. And this is also reflected in the type of countries participating," said Huertas. "There are countries with high standards in investigative journalism and there are countries where it is needs to be strengthened. But, in all, we found very good people.”

Countries involved in this initiative are Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, United States and Venezuela.

For journalist Cecibel Romero of El Salvador, being part of this initiative is a great opportunity to build community with colleagues "interested in doing in-depth work that explains complex social problems that we are experiencing and that are relevant to the community," she said in a video published on the Connectas Hub website.

Daniela Aguilar from Ecuador agrees, adding that in addition to knowing that there is someone to rely on, there is the possibility that in sharing information, they could try “to make history in their own country that would not only reveal more situations but also have a bigger impact.”

Being part of ConnectasHub is free and voluntary. There are several options for someone looking to become part of the community: one is through training that Connectas offers, after which each participant decides whether to be part of the project. The other alternative is for a leading member or one of the partner organizations to recommend the person.

"I belong to this small 'army of crazy people' because it is pursuing the idea of promoting investigative journalism as a democratic tool and to hold governments accountable for what they do with money and the power that we citizens give them," said Daniel Santoro of Argentina. "Because I am convinced that one of the functions of journalism in addition to inform, educate and entertain is to be the watchdog of democracy, the comptroller of all the powerful whether in politics, economics or religion."

The project was created in conjunction with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), a non-profit organization that seeks to promote the production and dissemination of investigative journalism in the Americas.

*Disclosure: Rosental Calmon Alves, director and founder of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas is part of the Advisory Committee for Connectas.

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.