The future of investigative journalism in Latin America. Non-profit digital media could be a way to fight corruption.
By Julieta Romero Güeto and Simon Didszuweit
After witnessing investigative journalism almost disappear in Latin America, Peruvian journalist Gustavo Goritti, director of IDL Reporteros, thinks there is now hope for rebirth.
Strong dependence on advertising, continuous government pressure on media sponsors and the influence of powerful economic groups have threatened the exercise of investigative journalism in Latin America for decades. Today, “if corruption is a deep problem in Latin America, non-profit digital media could be a way to fight against it” said Goritti on day 1 of FoME 2011 Symposium in Bonn.
Goritti believes that if advertising outlets follow ethical principles similar to those underlying ideologies of i.e. “fair trade” movements, the independence of investigative journalism can be better guaranteed. This conviction led him to found the digital investigative publication IDL Reporteros in 2010, which is based on a financial model of donors from philanthropic foundations and “fair advertising”.
Fair advertising – a win-win game?
This could work as a win-win where the media have a reliable and trustworthy financial base while companies gain prestige by projecting a more socially responsible image. Nevertheless, it is a great challenge to make such models sustainable and commercially viable in the future.
Nowadays, the opportunities to publicize and distribute content via the Internet are a great advantage for the further development of investigative journalism. Digital media are promoting the reappearance of investigative publications all over Latin America, Goritti reports. “Having Internet would have been a blessing,” he says looking back at his career as investigative journalist.
Goritti’s talk was an inspiring presentation for all those who still dream of practicing watchdog journalism.
“El periodismo de investigación es para el pueblo, no para las elites” (2011) Gustavo Goritti at DW-Akademie America Latina Blog
“Latin America. Investigative Journalists Show Their Mettle” (2009) by Ángel Páez at IPS
“The media’s role: covering or covering up corruption?” (2003) by Bettina Peters at UN.org