Knight International Journalism Fellowships

Latin America: Regional Digital Journalism Center Takes Root in Mexico

Since James Breiner launched the Digital Journalism Center at the University of Guadalajara in 2008, the center has grown into a robust institution. It is helping to increase the digital know-how of journalists and media managers across Latin America.

Breiner has crafted a Spanish-language curriculum for courses he has taught on the challenges and opportunities of digital journalism, entrepreneurial journalism, public-service journalism, journalism safety, covering sustainable development and writing for the web. So far, 340 people from 17 countries have enrolled in the center’s courses. Breiner introduced a “blended learning” method that combines online and in-person training. He also is developing a master’s degree in digital journalism for the university.

The center has attracted $105,000 for courses from AT&T, the U.S. Embassy and UNESCO. Breiner has raised $5,400 for scholarships from sources including the Adenauer Foundation, the Sintesis newspaper group and the University of Mayor in Chile.

His participants have created hard-hitting websites. A site that mapped crimes by unlicensed taxi drivers in Peru led to a government crackdown on unofficial cabs. Participants in the course on entrepreneurial journalism are creating alternatives to major media, which are controlled by a few powerful owners in countries in the region. A Mexican participant’s environmental blog attracts 18,000 unique monthly visits and generates $1,000 per month in revenues.

The University of Guadalajara has agreed to maintain the center for at least five more years and plans to make the program part of its virtual university.

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