If there are so many journalism awards - even in Colombia - why introduce a new prize there? Because DW Akademie believes more should be done for local journalists and because thorough research needs to be recognized.
"We certainly didn't expect this!" exclaimed Jesús Arrojave, head of the prestigious Communication and Journalism Faculty at the Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla. The room was packed. Journalists from all the major media outlets along the Caribbean Atlantic coast did not want to miss the presentation of the new ¡INVESTIGA! journalism competition. "I knew this would raise interest," Arrojave said, "but I didn't expect it to get this much attention."
The name says it all
In Spanish, "investigar" means to investigate, to research. "We want to motivate local journalists to dig deeper. We're looking for stories that haven't been told," says DW Akademie director Gerda Meuer. She presented the ¡INVESTIGA! award initiative together with the university dean, Jose Amar Amar, Jesús Arrojave and Petra Berner, head of DW Akademie's Latin America division.
The competition is open to television, radio and online journalists. The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2012. The focus will be on reports with a social and political weight - topics that Colombian journalists are sometimes hesitant to tackle. "We're hoping for a courageous type of local journalism, one that shapes public opinion without being patronizing. This is incredibly important in Latin American countries where media systems are usually centralized," says Petra Berner.
Local reporting is not easy
Local journalists are close to events and close to their readers. They show how 'high-level' politics relate to everyday life. If the government, for example, approves a new health law, local journalists have to explain how it will affect people at a local level. If they rely on generalizations and empty phrases, their audience will simply switch off. Local journalists have to be frank.
A high-profile jury
Highly renowned panelists sit on the jury. Alberto Martinez, now a professor, has worked for all major Colombian media organizations. Alberto Salcedo - a local journalist out of conviction - has won the most important Colombian journalism prize - Premio Bolivar - three times. Peter Burghardt, based in Buenos Aires, is the Latin America correspondent for the German newspaper Die Süddeutsche Zeitung. DW Akademie is represented by Petra Berner.
A trip to Germany and multimedia equipment
DW Akademie will award the winner a ten-day trip to Germany. This will include participation in the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum and discussions with DW staff in Bonn and Berlin. The runner-up will receive a multimedia equipment set, funded by the Universidad del Norte.