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Bolivian journalism students learn press freedom lessons through competition

3 May 2013 | PROJECT NEWS


The university faculty team winners of the first ever European Journalism Centre (EJC) organised Investigative Journalism Competitions in Bolivia, were announced 30 April in Santa Cruz. Taking top prizes were the five student teams representing first place Universidad Evangélica Boliviana and second place Universidad NUR, both of Santa Cruz. Both schools will be part of a media visit organised by the Clarin Journalism School in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Hosted locally by the Bolivian Association of Faculties of Communication (ABOCCS), the three-day simulated mock investigative journalism competition focused on writing and interviewing style as well as featured embedded lessons in journalism ethics and issues related to press freedom. 

Over 80 students and coaches from 14 ABOCCS-member Universities from across Bolivia participated in the competition. Bolivian students got the chance to enrich their university education by simulating the reality of the daily business of investigative journalists. 

During three days the students came face to face with the reality of the work of an investigative journalist through engagement in a simulated case of drug trafficking.  Students had to resolve and later write a story about the case based on their investigations. Santa Cruz locals acted as sources of information for the participants based on their interviewing technique and attention to journalistic ethics. 

“I think this competition supported the creativity, honesty and ethical behavior of our students and also emphasized the importance of finding a story through thorough investigation,” says Julvi Molina, president of ABOCCS. 

A jury consisting of established journalists from cities’ faculties that participated in the competition rated the final reportages: Monica Arrien (La Paz), Franz Torres (Sucre), Betty Condori  (Cochabamba), Maggy Talavera (Santa Cruz) and Monica Amarayo (Oruro). In their story evaluations judges strongly took into account the level of journalistic professionalism, the correct use of sources, adherence to journalism ethics as well as the thorough investigation of the story. 

“The best experience was to realise the true level of responsibility that investigative journalists have, “ says Karen Hikari Chibana (Universidad NUR, Santa Cruz). “It is not only about resolving the case, but to also pressure media and society to keep on investigating and dealing with current issues.”  

The competition was first successfully initiated by EJC in Armenia in 2008 and is part of the EJC’ s five year Press Freedom 2.0 consortium global media development programming funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.   

“Our hope is that the students took away not only the technical and ethical aspects of investigative reporting,” says EJC Bolivia Country Manager Josh LaPorte, “but also a deeper understanding of press freedom law as the cornerstone of what enables investigative journalists the opportunity to uphold their society watchdog role”.


MFSII - Press Freedom 2.0
A five-year, international media development initiative, Press Freedom 2.0 aims to support democratic development by empowering civil society, citizens, and local media organisations through the implementation of local media projects. Conducted by a Dutch consortium, the Press Freedom initiative offers a range of trainings and activities specifically tailored to the needs of 11 selected countries.

Bolivia: Press Freedom, Journalism Training, and Media Literacy
The EJC is engaged in three different media projects, each of them aiming to bring change to Bolivia’s media environment. Focusing on press freedom, mainly through the protection of journalists’ rights and media ethics, journalism training, and media literacy, the projects are designed to answer the needs and expectations of both media professionals and civil society activists in the country.