Univisión, the US Spanish-speaking broadcasting company, recently won an IRE award in the Broadcast Video category for their in-depth investigation on the Fast and Furious scandal, carried out by journalists Gerardo Reyes, Tomás Ocaña, Mariana Atencio, María Antonieta Collins, Tifani Roberts, Vytenis Didziulis, Margarita Rabin.
After giving the award, the IRE judges had this to say:
In a yearlong investigation, hundreds of classified Mexican documents were obtained with great difficulty under the Mexican public access law. A database of 60,000 entries was combined with US government documents to find 57 previously unreported lost weapons under the “Fast and Furious” program and to show the depth in human cost.
Univision detailed previously unknown crimes committed with those weapons - including the shooting of 14 teens at a birthday party – and uncovered similar U.S. programs in Colombia, Honduras and Puerto Rico that also went awry.
As a result of Univision’s diligence, the Mexican Congress asked for economic compensation for the victims of massacres in which guns from the “Fast and Furious” operation were used.
A public debate erupted in Mexico on how much the Mexican government knew. Congress pressed the U.S. Justice Department for more information, and one U..S Congressman called “Rápido y Furioso” the “Holy Grail” that broke the case.
And this is a fragment of Univisión’s original submission:
Although the hundreds of classified us and Mexican government documents weren’t obtained through a FOI request, we believe our process of gathering and comparing comprehensive information from two different governments, resulted in a story that did “open records and open government” in a unique and revealing way that could not be achieved by simply filing a FOI request.
Bonus: The eight-country collaborative investigative effort Plunder in the Pacific was a runner-up in the Multiplatform category, after revealing how Asian, European and Latin American fleets have devastated what was once one of the world’s great fish stocks (jack mackerel). The project was led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, in synergy with Latin American journalists from IDL-Reporteros (Perú) and CIPER (Chile).
Video: Courtesy of Univisión’s news show Aquí y Ahora.