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IPYS and Transparency International launch the fourth annual Latin American Prize for the Best Investigative Journalism Report on Corruption

A prize of $25,000 will again be awarded to the winning piece and two awards of $5,000 will be given to the runners up

The Press and Society Institute (IPYS) and Transparency International in Latin America and the Caribbean (TILAC) launched this week the fourth edition of the most prestigious regional prize aimed solely at promoting and furthering investigative journalism, which – under the auspices of the Open Society Institute – awards $25,000 to the best investigative journalism report on corruption published by a Latin American media outlet, in addition to two $5,000 prizes to efforts specially worthy of recognition. Eligible submissions must have been published between 1 January and 31 December 2005.

The award seeks to raise awareness about corrupt dealings in Latin American countries, where high indices of dishonest practices have been recorded in the state and private sector, according to studies conducted by Transparency International and other institutions.

“We will stay the course with respect to our efforts to strengthen and promote investigative journalism in our countries, given how well received the first three editions have been”, commented Ricardo Uceda, executive director of IPYS. “Investigative journalism is not an easy task but plays an exceptional role that must be given impetus. It requires time and resources that aren't available, a situation that is further compounded by the pressures and dangers rooted in conflicting interests that are continually faced. Hence, the ongoing need to provide an incentive of this magnitude”.

The prize is awarded by five jury members, all of whom are prestigious journalists: Tina Rosenberg, Pulitzer Prize winner and editorial page editor for The New York Times; Michael Reid, Latin American editor of The Economist; Marcelo Beraba, ombudsman of Folha de S. Paulo; Gustavo Gorriti, co-director of the daily La República; and Gerardo Reyes of El Nuevo Herald in Miami, named co-winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

In May 2005, a series of reports on illegal payments, made by two European companies to former Central American presidents, were awarded the $25,000 prize in its third year. The winners were Giannina Segnini, Ernesto Rivera and Mauricio Herrera, from the Costa Rican daily La Nación. Their investigative efforts unveiled how Finnish company Instrumentarium Medko Medical and French corporation Alcatel-CIT made illegal payments to three former Costa Rican presidents: former OAS Secretary-General Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, former President Rafael Ángel Calderón, and former Executive Director of the Switzerland-based World Economic Forum José María Figueres.

Two Brazilian investigative reports received special recognition on behalf of the jury, in the form of a $5,000-prize. “Os homens de bens da Alerj”, the first report, which uncovered the unjustified increase in assets among 27 congressmen in Rio de Janeiro, was investigated by Angelina Nunes, Alan Gripp, Carla Rocha, Dimmi Amora, Flavio Pessoa, Luiz Ernesto Magalhães and Maiá Menezes, from the daily O Globo. “Bolsa Família”, the second investigation, by Eduardo Faustini of TV Globo, revealed irregularities in the handling of funds allocated for the Brazilian Government's main social programme.

The jury will convene again in May 2006 in Brazil. The deadline for submissions is 28 February 2006. Selection criteria can be found on the TILAC website ( www.transparency.org/tilac) and the IPYS website ( www.ipys.org).

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