Street children forced into crime, collapsing schools, poor cancer care and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases were just some of the hard-hitting topics covered with Paraguay’s leading journalists in a series of in-house workshops lead by the Thomson Foundation’s investigations specialist, David Harrison.
David, winner of the Paul Foot and Amnesty International media awards for his investigative coverage, worked with over 40 reporters at three major national newspapers, ABC, Ultima Hora and La Nación to plan approaches and strategies to covering stories as part of a project backed by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
“There is a considerable degree of self censorship because of vested interests,” said David. “Information in the newspapers often reflects their views and opinions on subjects such as politics and business, making it difficult for journalists to provide independent coverage in these areas.”
Despite the restrictions that journalists have to face, all three news outlets were fully signed up to working with the foundation on improving their coverage, with many promising ideas emerging during the two-day courses, particularly on social issues.
There is a considerable degree of self censorship because of vested interests.
The recent unrest in the streets of the country’s capital Asuncion over changes to the Presidential term shows how tense the political climate has become. “That means it’s never been more important that the national media cover social and investigative issues responsibly and try to tackle the issues that matter most to the people,” says Thomson Foundation’s director of development, David Quin.