Journalists from pioneering Salvadoran news site El Faro recognized with García Márquez Excellence Award

Journalists from the Salvadoran digital native news site El Faro, the oldest of its kind in Latin America, have been recognized with the Excellence Award from the Gabriel García Márquez Journalism Award.

The award, now in its fourth year, is given to journalists recognized for “independence, integrity and commitment to the ideals of public service of journalism,” according to the award website.

The Gabriel García Márquez Foundation for New Ibero-American Journalism (FNPI for its acronym in Spanish) created the award and festival of the same name that honor the late Colombian author and journalist Gabriel García Márquez, affectionately known as Gabo, and journalism in Ibero-America.

“This award, given for the first time to a team and not an individual, recognizes the quality of journalism of El Faro and also the courage of its journalists, who carry out their work under risk and in very adverse conditions, to investigate and disclose stories and themes that have indispensable resonance in the public debate,” read the decision from the award’s advisory board.

The board said the site is an example “in the search for excellence, ethical consistency and innovation, not only in its country, but throughout the continent.” It specifically recognized Oscar Martínez, Carlos Martínez, Daniel Valencia, Roberto Valencia, Saúl Vaquerano, Elmer Menjívar, Sergio Aráuz, Gabriel Labrador, Edith Portillo, César Castro Fagoaga, Rodrigo Baires, Efrén Lemus, Fred Ramos, Mauro Arias, Edu Ponces, Marcela Zamora, Carlos Dada and José Luis Sanz.

The board highlighted the journalistic team’s use of narrative and commitment to the defense of human rights, pointing out stories documenting organized crime in the region and the migration of Central Americans to the United States.

It also noted books and a documentary created by the site’s journalists that are “essential elements in the public debate on violence, organized crime and migration, involving governments, social organizations, specialized agencies and the international press.”

Journalist Carlos Dada and businessman Jorge Simán founded El Faro in 1998 as an online newspaper because a printed product was not an available option, as told by journalist César Castro Fagoaga in a profile of the site.

According to the profile, Simán said the founders liked the name El Faro, which translates to “lighthouse,” because “it is associated with the technological world in which we were dabbling. We wanted to find a way to contribute to the construction of a better country.”

The El Faro team will receive 33 million Colombian pesos (about USD $11,300) as recognition.

Previous winners of the award were Costa Rican data journalist Giannina Segnini (2013), director of the Ethics Board of FNPI Javier Darío Restrepo (2014), Mexican journalist and founder of Network of Journalists on Foot Marcela Turati (2014) and Brazilian reporter and editor Dorrit Harazim (2015).

The Festival of the Gabriel García Márquez Journalism Award will be in Medellín, Colombia from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, 2016.

The jury for the award included Jean-François Fogel of France, Carlos Fernando Chamorro and Sergio Ramírez of Nicaragua, Germán Rey and María Teresa Ronderos of Colombia, Héctor Feliciano of Puerto Rico, Jon Lee Anderson of the United States, Martín Caparrós of Argentina, Mónica González of Chile and Rosental Alves of Brazil. [Ed. note: Rosental Alves is the founder and director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.]

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.