Investigative journalist Giannina Segnini of Costa Rica is supervising the editorial production phase of the course.

January 19, 2011

Latin American journalists use Knight Center’s online platform to do collaborative environmental reporting

Eighty-nine journalists from 11 countries in Latin America participated in the most recent environmental journalism training course organized by Colombia’s Newsroom Council (CdR), an investigative journalism organization. The course was conducted on the distance education platform of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin.

CdR_ horizontalThe Newsroom Council, created in 2007 with the Knight Center’s assistance, conducted a course in October and November 2010 devoted to a collective investigation of carbon emissions trading in Latin
America, a system in which quotas for emitting greenhouse gases are traded in a commercial market. The course resulted in a collaborative investigation that is still under way and will be published in the coming weeks.

In the first phase of the training (Oct. 18–31, 2010), 89 journalists took part in online group discussions to inform themselves about the topic. They read and discussed texts explaining the functioning of the emissions markets, and they participated in online forums and live chats with environmental experts.

Investigative journalist Giannina Segnini of Costa Rica is supervising the editorial production phase of the course.


The second phase (Nov. 1–28) was devoted to a journalistic investigation supervised by Giannina Segnini, a Costa Rican investigative journalist whose credits include the Ortega y Gasset Prize, the Maria Moors Cabot Prize, and the Prize for the Best Investigation of a Corruption Case, awarded by Peru’s Press and Society Institute. Journalists wrote stories about the functioning of carbon markets in their respective countries.

The third and final phase will involve the publication of articles written by 20 journalists in 11 countries. The report, to be published on the CdR website in the weeks ahead, will describe the current state of carbon emission markets in Latin America, with special emphasis on forestry projects.

Journalists participating in the final phase are from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela.

The project was advanced through contacts made and discussions held at the Knight Center’s 8th Austin Forum on Journalism in the Americas, in September 2010, sponsored by the Media and Latin American Programs of the Open Society Foundations.

CdR conducted the training in partnership with several other Latin American journalism organizations.

Ginna Morelo, president of Colombia’s Newsroom Council, at the 2010 Austin Forum

Those partners include: the Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism (Abraji); Chile’s Center for Investigative Journalism (Ciper); the Mexican magazine Emeequis; the Argentine Journalism Forum (Fopea); the Paraguayan Journalists Forum (Fopep); the Press and Society Institute of Venezuela (IPYS); and the New Ibero-American Journalism Foundation (FNPI). The project also received support from the CAF development agency, and the Journalism Studies Program of the Communication and Language Faculty of Javeriana University in Bogotá, Colombia.

CdR plans to conduct more collaborations in 2011 involving journalistic trainining and reporting on specific environmental issues. Its previous environmental training projects include The Green Agenda in Investigative Journalism (August–October 2009), in which 51 journalists participated in online discussions, and 25 attended a face-to-face workshops and roundtables dealing with six topics: water, environmental regulation, solid waste, the environment and conflict, biomass, and climate change.

The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin was founded in 2002 by professor Rosental Calmon Alves with a generous donation from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. It has assisted thousands of journalists in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2007, the Knight Center received a new, five-year donation from the Knight Foundation to refocus its work as a training center for digital media for journalists from Latin America and the Caribbean, and to expand its efforts to serve as an incubator for new media organizations.