Dr. Tudor Vlad talks with visitors about Grady College.

Three Journalists from Panama Discuss Investigative Journalism

Dr. Hugh Martin, a journalism professor at the University of Georgia, told the three journalists from Panama on June 3rd that investigative reporting tries to determine the actual truth about events by going beyond the accounts provided by different sources.

“Investigative reporting is not always about wrongdoing,” Dr. Martin said. “It can just provide information that people need to make better decisions in a democracy.” Much of that information can come from documents.

Dr. Martin did acknowledge that “a lot of investigative reporting does try to expose wrongdoing so it can then be stopped.”

The three Panamanian journalists were: Mrs. Elizabeth Del Carmen Gonzales, editor at the National Television, Channel 2; Ms. Magda Esther Maxwell, reporter and anchorwoman at the National Television, Channel 2; and Mr. Arnulfo Barroso, information chief of the newspaper El Panama America Daily.

Professor Hugh Martin meets with Panamanian journalists.

The journalists were participating in a one-day program organized by the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research, a unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

The one-day program included not only the discussion of broadcast education and practice, but also of Cox Center international research projects, media law in the United States and the Peabody Award program and application procedures.

The Panamanians were visiting the Grady College as part of a program sponsored by the United States Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program. The Georgia portion of their trip was coordinated by the Georgia Council for International Visitors.

Drs. Lee Becker and Tudor Vlad, director and associate director of the Cox Center, welcomed the guests.

Dr. Barry Hollander, also a professor in the Department of Journalism, shared with the Panamanian guests the syllabus of his course on computer-assisted investigative journalism.

“Numbers and data are important, because they give that type of evidence that makes the investigative material stronger,” Dr. Hollander said. “But in the end we have to remember that we are writing about people and for people.”

The Panamanian journalists told Drs. Martin and Hollander how their media organizations make use of official documents to sanction doubtful decisions of the administration.

Melanie M. Zuñiga, Dr. Kent Middleton, Dr. Tudor Vlad and Panamanian Journalists.

Dr. Kent Middleton, head of the Department of Journalism, described the U.S. mass communication legal system and the way journalists are trying to use the law of open records.

“U.S. journalists often use the law to gather information and to protect themselves from abuse and pressure coming from the government or from other sources,” he said.

“The Peabody Awards are the oldest awards for electronic media in the world,” Dr. Horace Newcomb, director of the Peabody Awards program, told the Panamanian journalists.

“It is difficult to achieve, the selection process is very tough, but there have been many cases when journalists working for smaller and international media organizations received an award in an electronic media form and genre.”