Knight Center
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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Knight Center’s 11th Austin Forum to discuss transparency and public information access in the Americas



The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas' 11th Austin Forum kicks off tomorrow. This year, the Forum will focus on access to information and transparency issues in the continent.

The event will take place on Nov. 8 and 9 and will receive around 50 journalists and researchers from the region.

Participants will discuss the role of the press in both the countries that have adopted right-to-information laws and those that haven't done so despite the pressure from civic society and international organizations.

"For more than a century, most countries in Latin America fought for democracy," said Professor Rosental Alves, founder and director of the Knight Center. "In the last three decades there was an unprecedented wave of democratization in the region, but it became clear that free elections were not enough to establish democracy. In addition to freedom of the press, journalists and citizens in general need to have access to information."

Forum participants will also discuss topics like the effectiveness of these laws, how much journalists have used these laws, the importance of access to information laws in a working democracy, the achievements and shortcomings of governments with historically high levels of secrecy that have promised to adopt a culture of transparency and the role of the media in helping citizens understand their right to access public information.

This year the keynote speaker will be Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, a nonprofit organization that uses public information requests to obtain and publish documents that have been declassified by the U.S. government. Blanton will speak about transparency in the United States today.

The Forum will start with a special session led by attorney and media policy expert Carlos Cortés Castillo, who will talk about the Open Society Foundations' Mapping Digital Media project, which seeks to examine the impact on freedom of expression of the transition from analogue to digital signal in countries around the world.

Other guests will include journalists and transparency experts from countries like Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.

The Austin Forum is an event that brings together journalism organizations in the American continent to discuss the profession's most relevant topics and challenges in the region. The Knight Center at the University of Texas has organized the event every year since 2003.

Last year, the theme of the Forum was "Safety and Protection for Journalists, Bloggers, and Citizen Journalists." In 2011 it focused on the media's coverage of immigration.



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