Strengthening Democracy by Promoting Investigative Journalism and Transparent Access to Public Information
Since the year 2000, IPYS has been working systematically with regional and local media, and journalists of the Andean sub-region. It has proven that most of them have very few financial, technical and professional resources and that this negatively affects the quality of their production. The public, on the other hand, is far from being familiar with fundamental issues such as the design of public policies, as well as matters of finance, health, education and environment. The consequences of such a situation are clear: democratic participation is hindered on matters ranging from electing public officials, to evaluating public issues, to demanding accountability. This is why it is essential to promote, through journalism, an informed citizenry and transparency in the fulfilment of public duties. The project aims to train journalists who work for private and community based media in poor regions of Peru and Ecuador in the methods of investigative journalism and the application of digital tools to strengthen their coverage of public issues. The objective is to improve the quality of the information and thus strengthen the public's capacity to monitor and participate in public issues. By training journalists, the project will build their capacity to inform properly about the issues that greatly affect the poorer members of society, thus fighting the culture of secrecy through strengthening investigative journalism. Training of this kind is not available in the sub-region. The media systems themselves do not provide it (the journalistic industry offers less training to its workers than any other in Latin America) and the universities, academic education centers, schools, institutes and specialized NGOs do not make provision for it. The project would fill this gap by providing training in investigative journalism, promoting transparency in public duties with better-informed citizens, strengthening governance through the promotion of the civil society's active participation. Nowadays, the use of digital tools significantly enhances the practice of any kind of journalistic work and is becoming a pre-requisite for journalists to thrive in a mobile multi-platform multimedia environment (core of the so called Journalism 3.0). In like manner, while traditional distance education lacks serious interaction between the individual student and the learning materials, between the teacher and the students, digital e-Learning tools have the potential to actually facilitate these types of crucial interaction, through the use of numerous communication tools available (email, chat, blogs, forums, etc.), and the particular nature of multimedia. Virtual, or distance training platforms reduce the costs normally incurred in on-site training (travel, per diem, logistic material, etc). In the digital age e-Learning tools, sometimes combined with onsite activities as blended learning options, which is what we propose to do, replace these activities. Expected project outputs include: a digital guide for journalists on the use of the access to public information law, which includes a dossier of cases where good journalistic practices can be appreciated; at least 60 journalists who work for private or community based media trained in the use of digital tools, investigative journalism and access to public information techniques; journalistic investigation projects on local public issues making use of the resources provided by digital tools for journalistic work; a digital methodological guide on journalistic investigation; a digital basic methodological guide on how to use digital tools; two national networks of journalism (Peru and Ecuador); and IPYS mobile production unit (capable of producing daily on audio and video) created in order to promote journalism 3.0 in the Andean countries.