In the last decade, Mexico has become one of the most difficult parts of the continent to be a journalist. Apart from the huge amount of violence against journalists, there is also job insecurity linked to a deep stagnation of investigative methods and tools in journalism schools. While student enrollment in the journalism schools is going down, and some universities close their journalism schools, many experienced journalists have benefited from an agreement of the Ministry of Education that allows the extemporaneous qualification through an exam; and the training demand has led to the opening of new Master’s programs in journalism.
This work intends to show, from a general analysis of the gaps, challenges and opportunities for journalism schools, a proposal for incorporating new content in journalism education to strengthen the technological capabilities of their graduates.
The objective of this paper is to search for an effective methodology for teaching investigative journalism at this University. To obtain the expected results the following methodology was used: a) the contribution of theories and comparative knowledge, with little practice outside the classroom, along with case studies; b) providing theories accompanied by an individual investigation outside the classroom, on a certain topic; c) an alternative method that includes two stages: the first on the theory of the investigative journalism in class, on a recently published investigative case, followed by a group investigation outside the classroom, with a common topic for all the students. The results proved the effectiveness of the alternative method over the other two methods, in which the discoveries made by students outside the classroom are documented, reaching the levels required for a journalistic publication and, in some cases, to publish it as a book. Another important achievement is to be able to systematize the process of journalistic investigation, resulting in a higher overall level of the students in the classroom.
Since 2010, the Career of Communication Sciences of the University of the Lord of Sipan (EAP CC.CC. USS, Chiclayo – Peru) has been developing the area of investigative journalism as part of the subject of the undergraduate III Workshop on Journalistic Writing and Production, focusing its students’ learning on the real skills acquired, as part of their graded coursework, through the planning, execution and drafting of reports on possible cases of corruption in public institutions of Lambayeque, the region in which the university is based. In groups of three, on average, and drawing upon legal resources such as requests for public information, the review of State documents, and an analysis of State portals (in accordance with the Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information, Law 27806), the students have revealed the virtual abandonment of public works in several districts by its mayors, mafias operating within municipalities and even purchases made at overvalued prices paid for with public funds.
This paper outlines an approach to teaching investigative journalism that produces publishable stories within an approximately four –month period. It is based on a five-step method that has been developed over the past few years on a journalism programme for graduate students. With refinements, the method is getting an increasing proportion of students to complete a successful investigation. From about 10 per cent initially, to now over half of students are now producing publishable investigative features within the four-month teaching period. The method provides a good learning platform for many aspects of the investigative process, and appears especially successful at motivating students to develop perseverance, but has some limitations in the type of stories produced.
Haiti’s 2010 earthquake and the billions of “reconstruction” dollars that followed offered humanitarian agencies and international businesses access to multiple opportunities for profit. Haitian and foreign commercial news media could not – or would not – watchdog the billions of dollars and hundreds of projects. Could Haitian “alternative” and community media fill the gap?
Two small media institutions – an online “alternative” news agency and a community radio training group, coordinated by a veteran international journalist – launched the Haiti Grassroots Watch partnership to give it a shot. Steered by the tenets of the early Western journalism and influenced by investigative journalism practices from Africa as well as the U.S., but also guided by Latin American “comunicación popular” theory and by Paolo Freire’s contributions on dialogic teaching and learning, the collaboration also builds on lessons learned from U.S. “networked journalism,” and from the investigative units and “new news labs” at U.S. universities. The result is a multimedia and multi-language collaboration, grounded in progressive community radio stations whose members have unique access and perspective, and based largely on the work of idealistic journalism students, who – like medical students – learn as they contribute.
The evolving experiment includes a university course, training sessions at community radios, as well as screenings in rural communities and poor neighborhoods where audiences engage in a kind of low-tech “crowd-sourcing” for story ideas. Capacity building is part of every step and content creation – text, audio and video – is uniquely informed by its participatory processes, by its grassroots origins and by the oversight of professors. Can the Haiti Grassroots Watch model be replicated at universities in other countries on the receiving end the billions of dollars in humanitarian and development aid doled out each year? This paper examines the project’s conceptual and theoretical underpinnings, its successes, and its challenges, and will hope to inspire similar efforts in the “global South.”