Digital pioneer and fighter on the press freedom front line, El Salvador’s Carlos Dada is the 2022 IPI-IMS World Press Freedom Hero awardee. As editor-in-chief and co-founder of the pioneering onlin...
A pioneer of investigative reporting and online journalism in El Salvador and Latin America, Carlos Dada is the co-founder and director of digital news outlet El Faro, which is the first digital-only news outlet in Latin America. Dada and entrepreneur Jorge Simán founded El Faro in 1998 in the aftermath of El Salvador’s long civil war. Their mission was to establish a news outlet completely independent of any political influence and to defend press freedom and freedom of expression in the country.
Over the decades, El Faro has become a paragon of investigative journalism in Central America with its fearless coverage of violence, corruption, inequality, and human rights violations. The news outlet’s investigations have uncovered several cases of high-level corruption in El Salvador, including cases involving former presidents Mauricio Funes and Antonio Saca. El Faro is known for its unique style of investigative reporting, which sees teams of journalists uncovering specific cases sometimes for several years at a time, establishing large and in-depth networks for information.
In addition to leading El Faro, Dada himself is a renowned journalist. He has reported from various conflict zones around the world and spent years researching war crimes, drug trafficking, migration, and environmental issues in Central America.
Alongside his team, Dada has been the target of threats and attacks by various governments of El Salvador as well as criminal organizations linked to drug trafficking. Most recently, in 2022, Canada’s Citizen Lab revealed that the phones of Dada and 21 of his colleagues were hacked and surveilled using the infamous Pegasus spyware during a time when El Faro was investigating links between the Salvadoran government and criminal organizations.
Dada has faced immense pressure and countless threats for his work over the years. Notably, the current president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, has ramped up intimidation of Dada and El Faro in recent times. Despite surveillance, smear campaigns, and persecution by an increasingly authoritarian government, Dada has vowed to continue El Faro’s rigorous journalism to hold those in power accountable.
Dada was named a 2022 IPI-IMS World Press Freedom Hero and is the winner of the 2022 ICFJ Knight Trailblazer Award.