From tax evasion to deals between gangsters and governments, a wide range of corruption and topics of public interest were covered in the winning pieces of this year’s Latin American Investigative Journalism Awards, organised by Transparency International and Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (Press and Society Institute, IPYS).
Earlier this week, a Rio de Janeiro theatre played host to an international celebration of investigative journalism. Some of the best reports from Latin America and the Caribbean were recognised, and three were awarded prizes. Journalists from more than 80 nations around the world came together to recognise the finest investigations reporting on acts of corruption, illicit business practices of politicians, organised crime groups and local businesses.
Ricardo Uceda, Executive Director of the Institute for Press and Society (IPYS) and Alejandro Salas, Regional Director for the Americas at Transparency International, inaugurated the Latin American Journalism Awards ceremony, which has been coordinated by the two organisations for over a decade.
Before announcing the three winners, the jury gave honorable mention to 10 works of journalism from over 200 pieces submitted for the 2013 prize.
Third place went to an investigation that uncovered tax avoidance by the former Costa Rican Minister of Finance, Fernando Herrero. The report was authored by journalists Giannina Segnini and Ernesto Rivera, from the Costa Rican newspaper La Nación.
In second place were a series of articles unveiling the diversion of more than US$2 million from funds allocated to police in the state of Parana, Brazil. Journalists Mauri König, Albari Rosa, Diego Anibal and Ribeiro Felippe accepted the award on behalf of the Gazeta do Povo team.
When a dish is good, do not ask the cook how it was made”
Finally, first place was awarded to the Salvadoran newspaper El Faro for uncovering the government’s secret deal with the gangs of Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18. Oscar Martínez, José Luis Sanz, Efren Lemus, Roberto Valencia, Sergio Arauz and Carlos Martinez accepted the highly-anticipated award.
When receiving the award, the team of reporters from El Faro described how their investigation began: As they were working on the story as a feature, organised crime groups approached the research team, warning them ‘When a dish is good, do not ask the cook how it was made’. After hearing these words, the reporters agreed that this was their big chance to deepen their research and find the answers they had been looking for.
It was a night of celebration for investigative journalists, many of whom noted the importance of such events for motivating other journalists to continue to observe corporations and those in positions of power in their countries, in order to question their actions and expose corruption.
Carousel image: Copyright, IPYS