Strengthening Investigative Journalism with Information and Communication

Project country:

Year when project approved: 
2010
Approved budget: 
US$33 000.00

In Colombia, investigative journalism faces many obstacles, such as violence in small cities, routine danger and threats to journalists, economically entrenched interests of communication media, the control of some politicians over journalists and media outlets, and the lack of knowledge about technologies and investigative techniques by journalists. Despite these difficulties, many journalists in Bogotá and Colombian regions have produced great investigative works on diverse topics such as political, environmental and social matters. However, very few journalists use information and communication technologies (ICTs) to find, process, and analyse data. One reason for this is because the use of these technologies is only now being included in the academic programmes of some universities. The majority of working journalists have not been trained in the application of ICTs; additionally the use of these technologies is very poorly spread through journalists. Another important factor that inhibits ICT applications in investigative journalism is the fact that journalists are not accustomed to big databases to gather information about their regions based on public records, which can be excellent sources for their investigations and become important tools for controlling the way services and resources are being administrated in the municipalities. Consejo de Redacción (CdR) has launchd an initiative to first sensitize participating Colombian journalists to the possibilities of ICT applications by presenting them selected cases of investigations made by national and international journalists who used ICTs in their works. The project will then train participants to find and research the large amount of information they can gather through the Internet, the searching techniques that can be used in an investigation, the facilities the web offers to access international databases, the usefulness of having their own databases and the modern software that helps cross-reference information. Finally, the project will generate a space for internal discussion that lets participants analyze how similar works could be done in Colombia, propose topics to be reported by exploring those techniques and advice them in the process to transform the information they obtain into a database that will be useful for their investigations.

Documents
Project details
IPDC Bureau meeting nº: 
54

Implementation status :

Project evaluated:

Project scope:

Budget
Budget code: 
354COL5091

Source of funds:

Beneficiary
Beneficiary name: 
Consejo de Redacción
Beneficiary address: 
Calle 70 7A-18 ? 501, Bogotá

Beneficiary country:

Beneficiary phone: 
571-3208320 code.4584
Location and contacts
UNESCO
Responsible UNESCO Regional advisers: 

Rosa M. Gonzalez, r.gonzalez@unesco.org;

UNESO Field Office:

Project contacts: 

Carlos Eduardo Huertas, President, carloseduardohuertas@gmail.com;

Project place: 
Bogota
Follow-up and achievments
Summary of the project implementation: 
Activities were carried out as scheduled reaching the expected results. Workshops had 39 participants from more than 10 different Colombian cities. The use of new ICT tools and skills, like blogging and building of databases, have opened up new communication channels among journalists. The research study has illustrated how to create and maintain audiences through social networks. The ICT workshops have proven particularly effective as they have permitted the development of online training materials. The project is now technically closed and will very shortly be administratively terminated.
Achieved outputs: 
Colombian journalists were trained in the use and advantages of ICTs in relation with investigative journalism through two different workshops. The first one dealt with the use of ICTs to find and research information on the Internet, using efficient searching techniques, as well as different web tools to access international on-line databases. They also created their own data-bases with local information. Participants continued to work with trainers throughout a month-long online forum that guided journalists in enriching their databases with information based on local public records. Afterwards, the second workshop covered more specific ICT matters. In conclusion, journalists were capable to harness ICTs for their journalistic work, particularly new tools such as blog publishing, and coordinated databases to highlight the potential of access to public information. Furthermore, a research study has been conducted on how social networks can be used for the dissemination of information. By illustrating the most effective communication strategies using social networks, this study (called Pais Real) led to recommendations on how social networks can be exploited to provide alternative sources of information, and allow communities and journalists to propose their own news agendas.