New course for Brazilian journalists teaches how to use Access to Information Law in impactful reporting

Registrations are open for the new free online course in Portuguese for Brazilian journalists, "Como usar a Lei de Acesso à Informação (LAI) para produzir reportagens de impacto" (How to use Brazil's Access to Information Law to produce impactful reporting), organized by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas in partnership with Fiquem Sabendo, which will take place from July 15 to Aug. 11, 2024.

“The Access to Information Law is a powerful tool to combat corruption and ensure transparency in public administration in Brazil. It has been in effect for 13 years after a long struggle led by investigative journalists. However, many journalists and communicators, in general, are not well-versed in effectively using the LAI. That’s why we created this program with the team at Fiquem Sabendo, an excellent Brazilian organization specializing in this topic,” said Brazilian journalist Rosental Calmon Alves, a journalism professor at the University of Texas for nearly 30 years and the founder and director of the Knight Center.

This four-week online course is designed to train Brazilian journalists in essential skills and knowledge for accessing public information for investigative reporting.

"Como usar a Lei de Acesso à Informação (LAI) para produzir reportagens de impacto"

“Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of Brazil’s Access to Information Law and its practical applications in journalism,” said instructor Taís Seibt. “They will learn how to draft effective information requests, navigate public data portals, and evaluate the quality of responses. Additionally, they will acquire skills in writing well-founded appeals against denied requests and creating routines to transform public data into impactful journalistic stories. These skills will enable them to produce more transparent, evidence-based reporting and hold public officials accountable.”

“How to use Brazil's Access to Information Law to produce impactful reporting" will be taught by three instructors:

Taís Seibt, director of strategy at Fiquem Sabendo, brings extensive experience as a journalist and holds a PhD in Communication from UFRGS. She has contributed to publications such as Zero Hora, O Estado de S. Paulo and BBC Brasil, and teaches at Unisinos and IDP.

Léo Arcoverde, co-founder and president of Fiquem Sabendo, combines his background as a journalist and lawyer with a Master’s degree in Economics from UFABC. His career includes significant contributions to GloboNews, Caros Amigos and various Brazilian newspapers.

Bruno Schmitt Morassutti, co-founder and advocacy director of Fiquem Sabendo, is an attorney specializing in Public Law and Civil Procedure from PUCRS. He serves as a consultant in public control and oversight, contributing to organizations like Open Knowledge Brazil and teaching at IDP in Brasília.

This course is designed for journalists, journalism students and community communicators involved in reporting on public policies and human rights.

Participants will learn how to access and analyze public data and documents, identify transparency gaps in public actions and decisions, and craft original journalistic reports. These skills are honed through real-world examples and insights from interviews with distinguished investigative and data journalists, including Juliana Dal Piva (ICL), Jamile Santana (Escola de Dados), Lucas Thaynan (Agência Tatu/Estadão) and Thays Lavor (Infoamazonia).

“By integrating these expert perspectives and real-world applications, the course provides participants with a deeper understanding of the practical challenges and opportunities in using the LAI. This approach not only enriches theoretical knowledge but also equips participants with actionable strategies and inspiration to apply in their own journalistic endeavors, ” Taís said.

The course material is organized into four modules:

  • Module 1 will cover the principles of active and passive transparency and their practical applications.
  • In Module 2, you’ll learn techniques for crafting clear, accurate, and effective information requests that are more likely to receive responses.
  • Module 3 will focus on common reasons for information access denials and strategies to appeal these decisions at higher levels.
  • Finally, Module 4 will explore routines designed to enhance the impact of information requests and consultations with public data.

“By mastering the use of the LAI, you will be able to uncover important stories, hold public officials accountable and produce high-impact journalism. This course will not only improve your investigative techniques but also broaden your understanding of public data, making you a more effective and informed journalist,” Taís Seibt said.

This course offers a great opportunity to equip yourself with essential skills in using the LAI effectively for impactful journalism.

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