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Professors Abroad: Tracey Eaton in Bolivia

Mar 22, 2010
by Brian Thompson, '95

The red-eye flight to La Paz, Bolivia, took Communication Instructor Tracey Eaton far from the classrooms of Flagler College to a place where it isn’t uncommon for journalists to be threatened, intimidated or even attacked.

“I have a lot of respect for journalists in Latin America,” he said. “They deal with challenges that a lot of Americans never see in the United States. Their lives are threatened. They’re sometimes shot, killed and tortured.”

Which is why Eaton felt it was so important to help lead a workshop on investigative journalism this past September. Investigative Reporters & Editors, a nonprofit group dedicated to improving the quality of investigative journalism, sponsored the workshop at the Universidad San Francisco Xavier in Sucre, Bolivia.

About 80 journalists and journalism students — who came from TV, radio, and newspapers — participated in the two-and-a-half-day workshop.

Eaton said the workshop was designed to help journalists learn many of the investigative reporting techniques that go on in other countries, including finding documents, using the Internet for information and interviewing techniques.

“Developing countries are in need of investigative reporting to help strengthen their democracies,” he said. “That kind of reporting is really needed to keep the politicians honest and to try and tell the taxpayers what’s going on.

“Bolivia is a country where this is a lot of political and economic turmoil. It’s one of the poorest countries in Latin America. … To me it’s a fertile ground for investigative journalism.”

Eaton is a former correspondent for the Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle who has reported extensively from Mexico and Latin America. He served as the Havana bureau chief from 2000 to 2005 for the Morning News.

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