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Fundación Gabo

Promoting quality journalism in Latin America

Fundación Gabo employees at their desks
Group talking on stage for Fundación Gabo festival

Training the next generation of journalists

Celebrated for his richly imagined fiction, Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez was also a reporter, editor and essayist. The writer, affectionately known as ‘Gabo’ throughout Latin America, worked in journalism until the end of his life. In 1994, he founded Fundación Gabo (the Gabo Foundation), a nonprofit dedicated to advancing independent, investigative journalism. The nonprofit offers programmes and mentorships to help the next generation of aspiring reporters develop the skills needed ‘to investigate, decipher and explain reality in a rigorous, ethical and creative way, so that citizens are better informed’. Their work today is critical, as the spread of fake news and disinformation creates an acute need for responsible, compelling journalism.

‘Gabo thought journalism shouldn’t be taught in classrooms, but learned on the streets – by talking to people about their experiences,’ says Project Coordinator Silvia Navarro. ‘We work with master journalists to train the younger generation and show them how the world works’. That effort is critical today, as the spread of misinformation underlines the need for responsible, compelling journalism.

Headshot of Silvia Navarro, Project Coordinator, Fundación Gabo
‘We have to fight for ethical, responsible journalism. That’s the journalism that Gabo wanted to leave as his legacy, which inspires the work we do.’
Silvia Navarro
Project Coordinator, Fundación Gabo

Partnering with the Google News Initiative (GNI), the foundation has developed technology-focused programmes, including ‘Innovation and local journalism in Latin America’, which offers an exchange of knowledge, references and mentoring to digital-native media outlets focused on local news coverage. GNI also supports the foundation’s efforts to train journalists on digital tools and formats, such as Google Web Stories through projects like the Storytelling innovation programme.

At the heart of the Gabo Foundation’s mission are GNI-sponsored journalism master classes, offered free to reporters, editors, teachers and journalism students. Taught by veteran journalists, the virtual classes cover topics including crime reporting, data visualisation in storytelling and conducting profile interviews. The 2021 programme received 1,500 applications for 200 spots — the greatest response ever in the foundation’s history.

Fundación Gabo members gathered around a conference tail in black and white
Fundación Gabo team members at a conference table

Pursuit of truth in storytelling

The class on investigating misinformation was especially timely. Seeing the destructive role that misinformation plays across society – eroding democracy, trampling on human rights and undermining public health efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic – the region’s journalists were eager to respond.

‘The master class panelists and media are recognised in Latin America, so hearing their experiences firsthand is of great interest to new journalists,’ Navarro shares. ‘The support of the Google News Initiative also helped to add interest’.

  • 200 media representatives trained in 2020 journalism master classes
  • 70+ digital native publishers trained in using Web Stories
  • 30% increase in traffic from Web Stories for some publishers

In a post-class survey, 70 per cent of attendees rated the programming as excellent, and 59 per cent said that they would very likely apply what they learned in their own media work. In addition, 15 participants were selected for two-month mentorship programmes with veteran journalists.

‘We have to fight for ethical, responsible journalism,’ Navarro says. ‘That’s the journalism that Gabo wanted to leave as his legacy, which inspires the work we do’.

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