September 2012
Encouraging a Rights Approach in Journalism

Through SEJP’s Small Grants Fund, EWMI is financing a training program for journalists on the advantages of the application of alternative sentencing and special proceedings as well as rights of the individual and due process. The project, implemented through an agreement with CIESPAL (International Center for Communication Studies for Latin America), hopes to improve the way journalists report legal and judicial news.

To this end, CIESPAL designed and implemented six training courses in Quito and Guayaquil from March – September 2012 for journalists and editors from major national media (TV, print, and radio) as well as communication specialists from judicial institutions. The workshops focused on strengthening professional journalistic skills such as writing technique and strategic communications; provided participants with a better understanding of legal mechanisms such as alternative sentencing and special proceedings; and discussed the importance of a rights approach when reporting legal issues and news. The workshops were led by Marco Lara Klarh, a recognized legal journalist from Mexico who is currently working with SEJP on a practical manual about special proceedings and alternative sentencing for journalists that will be completed in 2013 and distributed nationwide.

Based on SEJP’s daily press tracking in late 2012, it appears that references in the media to alternative sentencing, special proceedings and other legal mechanisms are now being made with greater precision and clarity. However, a formal monitoring plan for 2013 will more closely analyze information published during the July and August 2012 period. The main objectives of this assessment will be to determine the usefulness of the training process for a selection of journalists who attended all of trainings; determine what changes, if any, have been made in the use of a rights approach in news items of a judicial nature; determine what changes, if any, have been made in the discussion about special proceedings and alternative procedures; and identify, through interviews with journalists who published information after the trainings, the ways they used their new knowledge and skills in their work.