Winner of World Press Freedom Prize 2010 addresses challenges of investigative journalism in Latin America
The winner of the 2010 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, Mónica González Mujica, stopped by UNESCO's Quito Office during her visit to Ecuador. She talked about the journalistic treatment that is given to drug trafficking and organized crime in Latin America and about the need for journalists to work together at regional level.
For the World Press Freedom Prize laureate, journalism is the pulse of a country's democratic life, and this is precisely journalism and democracy that are presently at risk in Latin America. Drug trafficking and organized crime are hampering democracy in the region and this threat is not being investigated with the thoroughness it deserves. "Journalists and society continue to take it as a phenomenon of crime reports and tabloids, which is a trap and a serious mistake. It is an economic, political and social problem, which threatens daily lives of people".
"There is much fear," declared González Mujica, "but the duty of journalists is to disarm the fears and inform the public about the threats that affect their daily life." If journalism does not fulfill this function, its existence is in danger. Without journalism, citizens become blind, with no other way of knowing what is happening. Therefore, quality investigative journalism, which offers accurate images connecting with people's identity and stories based on proven facts, is of an extreme importance. "Such journalism causes effects and promotes change", said the Chilean journalist.
"Investigative journalism is progressing in Latin America thanks to the journalists who are sacrificing their time, health and money. But in addition to commitment and conviction, teamwork is necessary and not only at national but also at regional level," asserts González Mujica, for whom this is the challenge that journalists should achieve. Teamwork does not only facilitate and enhance research; it also provides support and protection that Latin American journalists do not currently have. "Journalists are deeply alone. Teamwork at regional level can strengthen the bonds and make their work more effective. You have to put the limelight aside and start working together," she stated.