The 14th International Congress of Investigative Journalism, promoted by the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji), gathered over a period of three days, from June 27 to 29, in Sao Paulo, 1200 people — among participants, lecturers, coverage and organization — to discuss the course of journalism in Brazil and around the world. Once again, the country's largest meeting of journalists took place in the Vila Olimpia campus of the Anhembi Morumbi University.
The public registered at this edition of the event was the second largest in history. The record belongs to the event held on 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, in conjunction with the Global Conference on Investigative Journalism (GIJC) and the Latin American Conference on Investigative Journalism (Colpin, in Spanish).
During the 2019 event, 187 speakers — 15 of them foreigners — and 55 moderators, held 91 panels and workshops. The great news of this year was the Data Sunday, held on June 30, 2019, at Insper, also in Sao Paulo, and with 190 participants in 22 workshops on programming, access to information and research based on data.
Live interview, homage, and Vaza-Jato
The first major panel of the Abraji Congress was the live interview with military retiree General Santos Cruz, a former minister of the Presidency Secretariat of Government, conducted by Julia Duailibi, a commentator on politics and economics at GloboNews, and by Daniel Bramatti, president of Abraji and editor of Estadão Data and Estadão Verifica. The full video is available here.
The person honoured at the 14th Abraji Congress was the journalist Miriam Leitão. With a 47-year career, Miriam joins other major Brazilian journalists who have been honoured in previous editions such as José Hamilton Ribeiro, Joel Silveira, Paulo Totti and Lúcio Flávio Pinto, Rosental Calmon Alves, Zuenir Ventura, Janio de Freitas, Tim Lopes, Marcos Sá Correa, Clóvis Rossi, Elio Gaspari, Santiago Andrade, Dorrit Harazim, Elvira Lobato and Carlos Wagner.
During the homage, session held on June 27, 2019, with the presence of family and friends of the journalist, a documentary was shown on the life and career of Miriam, available here. In front of a packed auditorium, the journalist accepted the appreciation with emotion: "My heart beats for journalism in every way."
The auditorium with a capacity for 410 people has crowded again during the presentation "Vaza Jato: impact and collaborative journalism". Leandro Demori, executive editor of The Intercept Brasil - media outlet responsible for the first reports on the leaks of messages attributed to Lava Jato prosecutors and the former judge and now Minister of Justice and Public Security, Sergio Moro - answered questions from the moderator Fernando Rodrigues, editor-in-chief of Poder360 and the audience, along with André Shalders, a BBC reporter specialized in politics and justice.
Inaugurations, misinformation, and algorithm
Two major projects for journalism were released during the Congress. The Data School, in partnership with Open Knowledge Brasil, Abraji and the French organization HEI-DA, announced the first edition of the Claudio Weber Abramo Award for Data Journalism, which seeks to encourage excellence in the use of data by journalists.
In addition, the second edition of Projeto Comprova was launched. The media coalition — which worked to verify false content during the Brazilian presidential election in 2018 — will resume its activities in the second half of 2019, now with a more educational role focused on fighting misinformation about public policies on the internet. Claire Wardle, executive director of First Draft, an organization that researches and fights disinformation, and responsible for bringing together the first coalition of Comprova, evaluated the results achieved by the project in 2018. In 12 weeks of work, Comprova conducted 147 assessments. Only 8% of the verified information was true.
The impact of fake news was also the subject of the lecture "Operation Infektion: New York Times videos uncover the political use of fake news" by Adam Ellick, director and executive producer of videos for the New York Times opinion editor. The Reporter of the Future project, responsible for the official coverage of the Congress, summarized the panel and interviewed the journalist.
Ken Bensinger's investigative journalism, which earned him a Pulitzer Prize nomination in 2010, attracted attendees interested in learning more about reporting "big people". At the lecture, Bensinger — who works at BuzzFeed News — talked about Donald Trump's involvement with Russia in the 2016 elections, the Fifagate scandal, and his recently published book on corruption cases in the world of football, called "Red Card," as yet unpublished in Brazil.
Independent journalist Mago Torres came from Mexico to share her expertise on major investigations on the panel "The country of 2000 graves: an investigation into clandestine burials in Mexico." Mago has extensive experience in journalism: she was a collaborator of the Panama Papers and one of the founders of Periodistas de a Pie, an organization focused on improving the quality of journalism in Mexico. In another panel, along with Guilherme Amado, vice president of Abraji, she spoke about the importance of collaborative journalism.
In the lecture "Technological investigations and skew algorithms: how to go beyond gadget journalism", assistant editor Gabriel Dance and collaborator Diego Salazar, both of the NYT, shared the panel with Tatiana Dias, reporter for The Intercept Brasil, and Sérgio Spagnuolo, the publisher of data journalism agency Volt Data Lab and director of Abraji, to discuss how coverage of the impact of technology on society can achieve a more in-depth discussion.
The last panel of the 14th Abraji Congress brought together journalists Marzena Suchan from Poland and Luz Mely Reyes from Venezuela, who spoke about the difficulties faced by communicators in countries with authoritarian governments. The mediation was made by the director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, Rosental Calmon Alves. Full coverage is available here.
The 14th International Congress of Investigative Journalism was sponsored by traditional Abraji project partners, such as Google News Initiative and Facebook Journalism Project, and companies such as Grupo Globo, Itaú, UOL, Twitter, Poder 360, Aos Fatos, Crusoé, Estadão, and Folha, as well as media support from CBN, RBS Group, Correio, and SBT. A full list of supporters can be found at congresso.abraji.org.br.