Connecting Indigenous Communities With Newsrooms to Spotlight Environmental Devastation in Brazil

By: 09/20/2022

A new initiative from the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) will foster on-the-ground reporting about deforestation and conflict in the Amazon, leveraging mobile technology to amplify local voices at a national level. This builds on an already impactful ICFJ-backed project in Indonesia.

Two months before the world’s premiere climate change conference, the ICFJ Pamela Howard Forum on Global Crisis Reporting is launching a special initiative called Eyes of the World. ICFJ and its partners will train community members to document and share news using a digital platform successfully deployed through ICFJ’s Knight Fellowship program in Indonesia among a network of citizen journalists.


“Our goal is to foster collaboration between journalists in urban centers and communities in the Amazon, who are often the only ‘eyes on the ground’ in areas that are difficult to reach,” said Stella Roque, ICFJ director of community engagement. “This network can produce and amplify stories about mining, deforestation, conflict and more – and serve as a model that can be replicated in other parts of the world.” 

The initiative will also support local independent media partners in creating regional citizen reporting networks in the Amazon, and give national mainstream editors the chance to develop stories sourced from the new network. The effort is getting underway just as top global scientists and policy makers gather in Egypt for the COP27 Climate Change Conference.

The program launches with training for Indigenous community reporters and journalists seeking to engage Amazon communities co-created with local partners in Brazil on foundational journalism, fact-checking, physical security and more. Indigenous journalists will have new opportunities to access new technology to help tell their stories.

Highlights of the training: 

  • A session with Gustavo Faleiros, co-founder of InfoAmazonia, which tracks environmental devastation in the region. Faleiros, a former ICFJ Knight Fellow, will focus on how journalists and editors can connect with communities in the Amazon with respect for local traditions and culture, as well as on building citizen journalism projects. 
  • A session with Eliane Brum, a writer and one of Brazil’s best known journalists. She has won more than 40 awards and worked at Brazil's largest media outlets. In 2017, she moved to the city of Altamira, to be closer to what she calls the center of the world: the Amazon rainforest. This month, along with former Guardian editor Jonathan Watts, she will launch Sumaúma, a journalism platform focused on the Amazon.

To get future news on all the sessions in this program, currently only available in Portuguese, please subscribe to the Forum newsletter here.

The second part of the initiative aims to replicate and deploy the Tempo Witness technology tools - both a mobile phone application and content management system - which have been developed and used in Indonesia by a network of citizens to report on environmental challenges in the rainforest and local conflicts with corporations. Indonesian journalist Harry Surjadi conceived the project during his ICFJ Knight Fellowship, working with Wahyu Dhyatmika, an investigative reporter and editor at Tempo Media Group. The platform will be used to seed the production of news stories in Brazil next year. “When citizens connect to the media, they are empowered,” said Surjadi. “When they share the information that is collected by them to mainstream media, the media can help communities to solve their problems.”

Program partners include Tempo Witness in Indonesia, InfoAmazonia and Amazônia Check, a fact-checking project focused on the Amazon launched by Brazilian media outlet O Liberal in partnership with Jogo Limpo, a program run by ICFJ with YouTube Brazil. 

ICFJ is immensely grateful to the dozens of individual donors who have made this program possible by contributing to the It Takes a Journalist initiative, which was designed to help journalists meet the most urgent issues of today. Their support allows ICFJ to flexibly deploy resources where they are most needed.

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