New Citizen Journalist Network Covers Poor Urban Areas for Brazil’s Largest Daily Newspaper

Jan 12010

Brazil’s biggest daily newspaper, Folha de Sao Paulo, now hosts a new network of citizen journalists whose multimedia reports are expanding the paper’s coverage of poor urban areas. Dozens of citizen journalists and bloggers post news stories and videos on Mural Folha, a blog launched by Knight International Journalism Fellow Bruno Garcez to give a voice to marginalized populations in Brazil.

“They don’t want to just talk about violence and crime,” says Garcez. “They want to talk about stories that are relevant in their own communities that never reach the big media outlets.”

Mural Folha showcases news stories and videos by more than 50 volunteer bloggers and citizen journalists from the outskirts and rural communities around Sao Paulo. Garcez trained them in the basics of journalism and video production. They are now using their new skills to highlight stories they feel have been neglected by the mainstream media.

Some of the recent stories include a video about what motivated people to vote for a Congressional candidate and former comedian who was very popular in underprivileged communities; a story about children in Vila Rubi playing in the open sewers strewn with rats; and a report on frequent flooding in a poor community and whether enough had been done to prevent future problems. Garcez has just wrapped up his fellowship, but Mural Folha continues in his absence. Izabela Moi, the deputy editor of Folha’s weekly cultural segment, is now managing the site.

The project began as a journalism course for citizen journalists. Garcez used a Wordpress blog platform to publish the participants’ stories. Now, in a prominent spot in the blog section of Folha.com, Mural’s exposure is multiplied. Folha.com’s five top blogs have a combined audience of over two million page views.