New journalism association in Chile launches with workshop on digital tools and investigative techniques

By Ingrid Bachmann

More than 200 reporters, editors, students and journalism professors came together in Santiago, Chile on July 5 and 6 for the First International Workshop on Investigative Journalism Techniques, which served as the inaugural event for the new Chilean Journalists' Network.

The workshop was free and invited speakers like Argentine journalist Sandra Crucianelli and Rosental Alves, founder and director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. It generated so much interest that even though the event was meant for 80 participants, almost three times more people attended.

"This initiative fills me with pride," said Pedro Ramírez, a member of the organization's executive committee, when the activities began. "[Our interest] is to help improve journalistic standards in Chile [...], the public debate and public policies. We want to stimulate [journalists'] apetite with these tools and incite journalistic ingenuity in the country."

The Chilean Journalists' Network was born in December last year with the Knight Center's support and seeks to improve journalistic practices in the country and generate a more profound conversation on freedom of expression at the public level. The new association joins the growing community of journalism organizations across Latin America and the Caribbean.

"It has been an honor for the Knight Center to be able to lend a hand in the creation of this international seminar on investigative journalism, which marked the launch of a new organization of Chilean journalists interested in improving the quality standards of journalism in their country," Alves said.

Four years ago, a similar initiative failed to take off, which is why the success of this event was particularly significant for the organizers.

"This is the realization of a dream that we at the Knight Center have been encouraging for years," Alves said. "In 2008 we conducted an international seminary on investigative journalism in Chile, with the hopes of encouraging a group of journalists to organize like in other countries. That seminary was a success, but it didn't lead to a new organization. It wasn't the time. Now it was; many of those who participated in the 2008 seminary are here again for this new event."

The Chilean Journalists' Network is currently composed by about 190 members, including journalists, editors and academics from the capital and other cities. Its executive committee is composed by seven persons.

The first activity of the workshop on July 5 was a videoconference with representatives from similar journalism organizations in other countries: The Forum for Argentine Journalism (FOPEA), the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) and Colombia's Newsroom Council (CdR). FOPEA's Fernando Ruiz underscored the importance of creating a community of journalists who share their concerns for quality information; Abraji's Luciana Kraemer listed some of the different training programs her organization offers to journalists and journalism students; and CdR's Edilma Prada pointed out the need to incorporate professionals and academics from all over the country, not just from the capital.

Next day, Sandra Crucianelli, an award-winning journalist from Argentina and an instructor with the Knight Center, taught a workshop on introduction to data journalism. Crucianelli showed the participants several tools to work with databases and discussed projects like an app developed by newspaper La Nación on the assets of Argentina's cabinet members.

Later, in rooms full of participants, several other workshops took place at the same time. Poderopedia's Miguel Paz showcased several digital tools; Pedro Ramírez and Juan Pablo Figeroa, of independent news site CIPER, showed some practical examples on how to use databases when preparing a story; Pedro Daire and Marcel Augsburger, of Ciudadano Inteligente, taught participants about several tools to obtain and process data; and Rosental Alves, of the University of Texas at Austin, taught a workshop on entrepreneurial journalism.

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.