Brazilian Blog Gets An Impressive New Home

Nov 242010

Editors Note: A web address change for Mural, a leading citizen journalist blog in São Paulo.

Mural, the blog that comprises news stories and videos by more than 50 volunteer bloggers and citizen journalists, is moving today to a new address. As of now, Mural is hosted by Folha.com, the Web site of the country’s biggest daily newspaper, Folha de São Paulo.

Mural is the byproduct of a Knight International Journalism Fellowship I was granted which started on November 2009.

Bruno pictured with one of the first groups of students trained in Mural workshops. (Photo: Eduardo Anizelli/Folhapress)

Originally a journalism course aimed at citizen journalists from the outskirts of São Paulo, Mural used a Wordpress blog platform for a series of workshops I provided to three groups of students throughout the months of June and October this year.

The lessons used examples and situations based on the students’ everyday lives, things that all or most could relate to. If we were discussing multiple sources in journalism, for example, we’d look at several different stories on the same topic, for example, one done by a weekly magazine known for its bias against impoverished communities; another by a blogger from the community portrayed; and a third by an investigative reporter who’s done several stories on violence and police brutality.

More than once we took a fictional report from a hip hop song and turned it into a short news story – an exercise that aimed both to incite creativity as well as enhance the ability to tell a captivating news story. Involving good music and gripping narratives, little wonder this was always a “top hit’’ among the several participants.

The next step was to create a series of stories that would make each participant an active member of a network of community correspondents throughout São Paulo. The goal was to highlight stories with a social peg and topics that were overlooked by the country’s mainstream media.

One goal for Mural was to bring some attention to neglected topics. On social matters, it could range from an obscure borough where children play football side by side with rats and open sewers; the street in a down-trodden area where buses take ages to arrive; or a square in a traditional, yet less affluent neighborhood that became a hot spot for drug trafficking.

In the world of entertainment, the mainstream media is unlikely to cover an art show causing a buzz in one of São Paulo’s biggest boroughs if that borough happens to be on the outskirts of the city; the general public would have little chance to hear about the poetry soirees that are becoming a strong tradition in peripheral boroughs, helping reveal talents and raise the self-esteem of hundreds of youngsters from poor backgrounds. So Mural gives a voice to those who haven’t had much of a voice before.

With the exposure generated by our presence in the country’s most important newspaper, our responsibilities will naturally increase. Folha.com’s five top blogs have a combined audience of over 2 million page views. Thankfully, we’ll be in very good hands, with Izabela Moi, deputy editor of the weekly cultural segment Ilustríssima, who will be overseeing the content and who’s been an enthusiast of Mural from day one.

Mural’s bloggers have all remained quite engaged throughout the different periods of the project and are already pitching stories on a regular basis. Oh, and by the way, our first story is about...No, I'm not going to tell you. You'll have to read it at Mural Folha, and hopefully, that will become a regular habit.