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Brazilian journalists win 2012 Latin American Investigative Journalism Award

Work revealed illicit enrichment scheme leading to the fall of former Chief of Staff Antonio Palocci

Folha de Sao Paulo journalists Andreza Matais, José Ernesto Credendio and Catia Seabra have won the 2012 Latin American Investigative Journalism Award for a series of stories that led to the resignation of the President of Brazil’s Chief of Staff.

The award is given out yearly by the Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (Press and Society Institute, IPYS) and Transparency International (TI). For the 2012 edition, 209 investigative pieces published in the press, radio, television and Internet, coming from 19 countries in the region, were nominated.

The series of stories that brought down Dilma Rousseff’s Chief of Staff were developed by the team of Brazilian journalists in “a classic piece of investigative journalism,” the competition judges said. The reporters started with a simple and isolated piece of information: the purchase of a luxury apartment in Sao Paulo, and began an investigation that led to the discovery an illicit enrichment scheme. A few days after the publication, Antonio Palocci resigned from his position as Chief of Staff.

The reporters received an award of US$15,000 during a special ceremony that was part of the Latin American Investigative Journalism Conference (COLPIN), which took place in Bogota, Colombia from 12 – 15 October.

Second and third place

Members of the jury, comprised of Gerardo Reyes and Tina Rosenberg (United States), María Teresa Ronderos (Colombia), Fernando Ruiz (Argentina) and Marcelo Beraba (Brazil), also announced the names of the journalists that won second and third place, receiving an award of US$10,000 and U$5,000, respectively.

“Condemned Children”, by Jose Luis Costa and Adriana Irión from Zero Hora, Brazil was awarded with the second place. This multi-year effort culminated in a reconstruction of the history of each of the 162 young people that were held in a detention centre for minors. Several of them ended up dying violently or went back to lives of crimes after their detention. The journalists’ investigation sped up the announcement by the national government to promote reforms for the treatment of youngsters in detention centres.

The third place was given to the series “Black Fishing” by Milagros Salazar from IDL Reporteros, Peru. This effort made extensive use of databases, street level investigation and document analysis. Her work uncovered a failed auditing system in the powerful Peruvian fishing industry, the second largest worldwide. The stories revealed dubious, multi-million dollar discrepancies in the fisheries reports, thus damaging fishermen and the national budget.

Honorable Mentions

The jury also granted 13 honorable mentions for:

  • The Schoklender case by Daniel Santoro, Nicolás Pizzi, Luciana Geuna, Lucio Fernández Moores, Omar Lavieri and Rodolfo Lara, of the newspaper Clarín (Argentina).
  • Maestro Mehir by Sergio Carreras of la Voz del Interior (Argentina).
  • Itamaraty Secrets by Rubens Valente, Fernanda Odilla and João Carlos Magalhães of Folha de São Paulo (Brazil)
  • Holocaust at the Colonia de Barbacena Hospital by Daniela Arbex of Tribuna de Minas Gerais (Brazil)
  • The Business of Higher Education by Verónica Torres, Gregorio Riquelme and Juan Andrés Guzmán of Ciper (Chile)
  • The Man that Managed Half of the Country from Jail by Luz María Sierra and Luis Ángel Murcia of Semana Magazine (Colombia)
  • The Rivas Mine by José Adán Silva and Luis Manuel Galeano of the Nuevo Diario (Nicaragua)
  • The Presidential Family Reserve by Moisés Martínez and Octavio Enríquez of La Prensa newspaper (Nicaragua)
  • The Juan Hombrón Land by Lina Vega, Santiago Cumbrera and Ereida Prieto-Barreiro of La Prensa newspaper (Panamá)
  • The Iran-Venezuela Case by Laura Castillo, Fabiola Zerpa, David González and Angel Zambrano of El Nacional newspaper (Venezuela)
  • The Bad Time for the Stock Traders by Corina Rodríguez of Bloomberg (Venezuela)
  • Identity Cards Cuban Style by Adriana Rivera of El Nacional newspaper (Venezuela)
  • Electric Traps by Cesar Batiz of Ultimas Noticias newspaper (Venezuela)

Read the Spanish version of this press release here.

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