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Nominations open for Latin American Investigative Journalism Award

Transparency International together with Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (Press and Society Institute, IPYS) and with support from Open Society Foundation is pleased to announce that the nomination process for the 2014 Latin American Investigative Journalism Award is now open. The award is meant to publicly recognise exceptional work in uncovering crime and corruption by investigative journalists in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Investigative journalism: fighting corruption and increasing transparency

Much of the public interest information ought to be easily available – whether it is in public documents or via access to information requests. However, a culture of secrecy remains in many parts of the world. Essential information that affects the everyday lives of people remains secret in many countries, either deliberately or conveniently obfuscated behind a mass of data dumps and irrelevant information.

Investigative journalism is key in digging up information that can shed light on wrongdoings. This is especially important in countries with weak institutions where repeated acts of corruption go unquestioned. In these countries the press is often the only way to uncover stories where the public interest is being ill-served. If people do not know about government, business and non-governmental organisation dealings, it makes it impossible to hold the powerful to account.

Despite personal danger and the challenges of obtaining resources to carry out their work, investigative journalists continue to play a key role in uncovering wrongdoing and exposing crimes that undermine democracy and human rights. For over a decade, Transparency International and IPYS have recognised journalists’ essential contribution to the promotion of more open and better societies through the Latin American Investigative Journalism Award.

SUBMIT NOW – The 2014 Latin American Investigative Journalism Award recognises the best print, online, radio or TV reports from Latin America and the Caribbean in 2013. All topics of public interest are welcome.

The award ceremony will be held at the 2014 Latin American Conference on Investigative Journalism (COLPIN) in Mexico City in October 2014.

The closing date for entries is 31 May 2014. Full guidelines and details on how to participate can be found here or by visiting the IPYS award website.

2013 winners

The award attracted 177 entries in 2013 with Salvadoran online news outlet El Faro winning the top prize. El Faro was awarded first place for uncovering secret government negotiations with Salvadoran gangs to reduce murder rates. In exchange for ordering a cutback in violence, gang leaders – long held in maximum security prisons – were transferred to less secure facilities and offered thousands of dollars.

The government initially attributed the decline in murders to the “efficiency of police and the intelligence work that was being developed”. Even after documents detailing agreements between government and gangs surfaced, the government continued to contest the claims. However, six months after the initial denial, General Munguía Payés admitted to El Faro that the government had brokered a truce with gang members.

“The situation between the government and the gangs is something new, but is something that is not accountable or transparent”, Carlos Dada the founder of El Faro explained. To substantiate the alleged corrupt dealings of the government, El Faro journalists worked hard to gather information from multiple sources working in prisons, government and gangs.

Second place was given to a series on corruption in the police by Brazilian journalists Mauri König, Albari Rosa, Diego Ribeiro and Felippe Aníbal, from the Gazeta do Povo.

Ernesto Rivera and Giannina Segnini from the Costa Rican La Nación uncovered a case of corruption in the presidential cabinet (Gabinete) and won third place.

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