Knight Center publishes e-book on transparency, accountability and journalism in Latin America, Caribbean

As part of its series of occasional e-books, the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas just launched “Transparency and Accountability: Journalism and access to public information in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

This e-book is a special report of the 11th Austin Forum on Journalism in the Americas, a roundtable conference organized last year by the Knight Center, gathering journalists and experts from a dozen countries from throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Click here to download this e-book now for free in a PDF file.

The e-book contains 12 chapters that form a snapshot of the access-to-public-information situation in 11 Latin American countries and the Caribbean Region. Since the turn of the century, many countries in the region adopted Freedom of Information laws in an attempt to overcome the culture of secrecy that has characterized public administration throughout history.

In the foreword of the e-book, professor Rosental Calmon Alves, founder and director of the Knight Center, says that after the wave of democratization that swept the region in the last quarter of the last century, journalists in Latin America started searching for a missing piece to complement other democratic reforms: more transparency of public administration.

“Journalists wondered: what do we do with the freedom to publish if governments don’t answer our questions, don’t provide crucial information about what they do?” said professor Alves, referring to the support journalists and the media have given to Freedom of Information laws in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Despite the growing recognition – at least on the part of journalists and civil society – that freedom of information and democracy go hand in hand, governments in general have been reluctant to adopt or comply with laws that run counter to a culture of silence firmly embedded in Latin American and Caribbean countries,” notes Summer Harlow, who edited the e-book. She just earned her Ph.D. from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.

The e-book is a compilation of the presentations during the 11th Austin Forum on Journalism in the Americas that took place at the Knight Center in November of 2013. A list of the main chapters follows:

  • Argentina: A Right without a Law is a Limited Right By Juan Carlos Simo
  • FOIA in Brazil: Still an Uphill Battle, but a Leap in the Right Direction By Fernando Rodrigues
  • The Bolivian Press and Access to Public Information By Raúl Peñaranda
  • Freedom of Information Legislation and Administration in the Caribbean By Wesley Gibbings
  • The Challenge for Chilean Journalists in Using the New Transparency Law By Claudia Urquieta
  • The Struggle to Access Public Information in Colombia: Caught Between the Law and a Culture of Secrecy By Miriam Forero
  • An Opaque Country: Open Access to Public Information and Transparency in the Dominican Republic By María Isabel Soldevila
  • Guatemala: Ups and Downs in Transparency in a Complicated Country By Alejandra Gutiérrez Valdizán
  • Transparency, Access to Public Information, and Journalism in Mexico By Estela Margarita Torres Almanza
  • The Dangers of “Cleansing” Information in Nicaragua By Leonor Zúniga Gutiérrez
  • The Situation in Peru with Regard to Access to Public Information and Transparency at All Levels of Government: How Journalists Use Mechanisms for Access to Public Information By Úrsula Freundt-Thurne
  • Access to Public Information in Uruguay: Civil Rights, Institutional Mazes and Political Zigzags By Rosario Radakovich

Click here to download this e-book now for free in a PDF file.

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.