Venezuelans release book about investigative journalism, announce national contest

By Daniel Mora-Brito

The Venezuelan chapter of the Press and Society Institute (IPYS) has released its most recent publication, Methods of Impertinence, a collection of best practices and lessons for investigative journalism in Latin America. The book combines testimonies from 10 prominent journalists from the region that were presented between 2005 and 2009 at events in Mexico, and the Venezuelan cities of Caracas, Maracaibo, and Puerto La Cruz.

According to the editor, Marianela Balbi, “the book is an essential element for journalism students, for recent graduates, and even for colleagues who are exercising the profession" and offers "essential guidelines for the job, which demonstrate how investigative journalism has been specializing in different parts of Latin America." For Balbi, what is most striking is that the book presents the experiences of very high-level professionals, offering practical advice to improve investigative journalism.

Ewald Scharfenberg, director of IPYS Venezuela, said the book is an interesting way to produce a new body of knowledge on investigative journalism adapted to the complex reality of the region. Thus, according to Scharfenberg, this work not only addresses theoretical aspects, usually generated in the U.S. and Europe, but also is built on anecdotes and experiences of those who write.

The publication compiles lectures by journalists Roger Atwood, Ricardo Uceda, Mauricio Herrera, Ignacio Rodríguez Reyna, Giannina Segnini, Eduardo Faustini, Alberto Recanatini, Héctor Ruiz Núñez, María Teresa Ronderos, and Humberto Henderson. It also includes an interview with renowned journalist John Dinges.

The book's release was announced at the II National Competition for Investigative Journalism Reports (PDF file), which seeks to recognize and encourage this discipline in the country. The award is scheduled for February 2011, and the jury includes prominent journalists in Colombia, Costa Rica and Venezuela.

On the importance of investigative journalism in Venezuela, Balbi noted that this type of work “is what will differentiate between journalists and the media. As the eighties was the time of the feature story, today's readers and journalists need a depth that journalism did not have before." In his remarks during the launch of the book, Scharfenberg emphasized: "Venezuela does not need to be capable of prophecy to know that hard times are coming. There is a kind of perfect storm that is battering our media, that has to do with the global crisis of the business model of the press, but also with the local conditions of self-censorship, government pressure, and the disappearance of many important advertisers. Part of the answer lies in our capacity to do well-investigated and narrated stories.”

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.