Dec. 15: Reporting On and Living With COVID-19: The View of Four Latin American Journalists

Reporting On and Living With COVID-19: The View of Four Latin American Journalists

Tuesday, December 15, 7 pm EST on Zoom

Latin America has become the region with the highest number of confirmed cases globally.

Last month, The Lancet reported that Latin America has some of the highest COVID-19 death rates in the world, accounting for more than a quarter of cases in the world. According to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Data Repository, Mexico has had over 1 million cases and 109,000 deaths. In addition, “[Latin America] is facing a humanitarian crisis borne out of political instability, corruption, social unrest, fragile health systems, and perhaps most importantly, longstanding and pervasive inequality—in income, health care, and education—which has been woven into the social and economic fabric of the region.”

Journalists covering COVID-19 in Latin America have faced skepticism from their governments and the public and have died covering the pandemic. About 127 journalists have died in 31 countries from COVID-19, according to reports compiled by the Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign. Latin America is the most affected with at least 62 journalists who have died from the virus, compared with Europe’s 23 victims, Asia’s 17, North America’s 13, and Africa’s 12. Of all the Latin American countries in the study, Peru has the highest number of journalists who have died from the virus. Twenty have died in the past two and a half months. Six of the journalists died in Iquitos, an indigenous region in the northern Amazon region of Peru that saw one of the biggest outbreaks.

Science Writers in New York is honored to host a panel of science journalists from Mexico, El Salvador, and Peru to talk about the challenges of covering COVID-19 in their countries.

Join SWINY co-chair David Levine (@dlloydlevine) in a discussion with Estrella Burgos Ruiz (@estrellaburgos), Will Monterroza (@Onwill), Myriam Vidal Valero (@myriam_vidalv) and Fabiola Torres (@fabiolatorres).

Estrella Burgos Ruiz is a science writer and editor based in Mexico City. In 2014 she was awarded a fellowship by the Civitella Ranieri Foundation and in 2017 she was the recipient of Mexico’s National Science Popularization Award. Since 1998, she has served as editor-in-chief of the monthly science magazine for adolescents and young adults, ¿Cómo ves?.

For several years she was co-host of two weekly science radio shows. Both the broadcasts and the magazine are projects of the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s Department of Science Communication, where she has worked for 22 years as an editor, writer, teacher and radio presenter.

Will Monterroza is a journalist and university professor who has been teaching classes for three years and founded the multimedia news platform EL INFORME, a pioneer in terms of science news in El Salvador. As most Salvadoran outlets have covered the coronavirus from a political angle, Monterroza launched a digital science journalism outlet, El informe news, in 2015.

Since the pandemic began, he has been posting coronavirus stories and videos. which finances the site with his multimedia and teaching jobs.

Myriam Vidal Valero is a freelance science journalist based in Mexico City. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Science, The Open Notebook, Medscape, Muy Interesante and ¿Cómo ves?, among others. She is a member of the Mexican Network of Science Journalists (Red MPC). In 2019 she became a fellow of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship on Mental Health Journalism.

Myriam started her career in 2016 as a staff writer in the digital magazine Aquí entre nos (Here Among Us), the digital site Ciencia UNAM and the radio show La ciencia que somos, all from the Department of Science Communication of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She also worked for the Scientific and Technological Consultative Forum. Myriam is a member of the Mexican Network of Science Journalists (Red MPC) and has participated in several science journalism conferences and trainings, such as the workshop “In search of the vaccine against disinformation,” organized by the GABO Foundation in Colombia and the Sabine Vaccine Institute workshop on vaccination aimed at Latin American journalists, in Argentina. In 2019 she gave a conference on how to report about vaccination during an event organized by the company Sanofi Pasteur in Paraguay. Her work has been awarded the European School of Oncology Cancer Journalism award 2019 -2020 and the COMECYT Award for journalism on Scientific and Technological Innovation. 

An International Center for Journalists Knight Fellow, Fabiola Torres is an investigative journalist and editor from Lima, Peru. She is strengthening journalists’ digital investigative reporting skills to improve coverage of health, corruption and governance issues in Latin America. She leads cross-border teams in deep investigations that consistently lead to government action to improve citizens’ conditions.

In July 2019, she launched Latin America’s only news site devoted exclusively to health reporting. The site, Salud con Lupa (“health under a magnifying glass”) engages audiences in Spanish and English with data-driven visualizations and investigations that expose corruption in health care systems and explain critical health information to the public.

During the project’s first year, journalists in eight Latin American countries revealed abuses of power in the region’s health care systems, uncovered mistreatment of women in maternity wards, and showed how powerful financial interests shape nutrition labeling in the region.

When COVID-19 struck Latin American countries in early 2020, teams of journalists under Torres’s leadership sprang into action, providing unparalleled coverage of the health crisis and driving news reporting on the pandemic across the region. Torres built a special pandemic reporting team of 10 health reporters to work in 10 countries where they produced dozens of stories tracking impacts of the disease and government strategies and spending to contain it.

Do you have a question for Estrella, Will, Myriam or Fabiola you would like answered? Submit it here.

Tuesday, December 15
7 to 8 pm EST


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