ICFJ Voices: Daniel Nardin, Elevating Amazon Stories

By: Emma Manring | 02/14/2024

This year, ICFJ is celebrating our 40th anniversary and our long history of supporting journalists. Throughout the year, we will be showcasing network members from around the world.

For Daniel Nardin, the Amazon is more than a place to call home. As a journalist from the Brazilian state of Pará, he has worked and built a career in the region, holding reporting roles in the local press, serving as the Pará State secretary of communications, and even leading the media outlet, Grupo Liberal, as director of journalism and content.

In 2021, Nardin became an avid follower of the International Center for Journalists’ IJNet and a member of the Pamela Howard Crisis Reporting Forum. Then in 2022, he and his team at Grupo Liberal won two grants through ICFJ – one from the Meta-supported program, Accelerating the Digital Transformation, and the other from Jogo Limpo, funded by YouTube.

The training and support from these two programs were so valuable to Nardin that he made the decision to leave Grupo Liberal to start his own platform, Amazônia Vox. The site connects journalists and other professionals outside the region with freelancers and sources inside of it, through a database that stands at nearly 500 freelancers today. Amazônia Vox also publishes its own reporting through a solutions journalism lens. Nardin’s goal is to combat misinformation about the Amazon region and elevate the voices of its people.

With such initial successes, the Knight Center LATAM Review named Amazônia Vox as a top 10 impact project in Latin America. Nardin was also listed as one of the Top 30 voices in Papel & Caneta, an annual list highlighting leaders of exceptional change in the Brazilian communication industry. 

Here’s what Nardin had to say.

Why is it so important right now to provide the kind of support to journalists that ICFJ does, especially for Brazilian journalists and in the Amazon region?

I believe the work of ICFJ is fundamental for the professional development of journalists. It helps broaden the career possibilities by presenting opportunities for support and training, fostering new connections and inspiring innovative ideas.

In every event I attend or in informal conversations with fellow journalists, I emphasize the importance of getting to know and stay updated on ICFJ. It opens, as it did for me, professional and even personal perspectives, working on something more purposeful and collaborative that can generate more impact and positively transform communication and journalism.

The job market in Brazil is quite limited, with often tight budgets and reduced teams. To overcome these challenges, support is crucial. For journalists in the Amazon, even more so, considering the current moment of valorization of their culture and diversity and the high and growing interest in the region. We have local centers of knowledge in the Amazon that produce at a high level, and we have skilled and high-quality journalists and professionals. Let the major narratives and innovations in journalism about the Amazon be made by Amazonians. This is a challenge that motivates and inspires us.

What is something impactful you have worked on since participating in an ICFJ program that you are proud of and would want to highlight? Was your experience with ICFJ helpful in some way for this?

ICFJ provided knowledge, networking and an understanding of something I consider vital in contemporary journalism: urgently replacing the word "competition" with "collaboration."

In November, we conducted a free online training session for approximately 200 professionals from the Amazon registered on Amazônia Vox, covering basics on artificial intelligence, podcast production, project development, and solutions journalism. This was only possible because of collaboration that was facilitated to a significant extent through the networking promoted by ICFJ programs. We are also in talks with other potential partners for more projects in 2024, as we have a keen and growing focus on the Amazon, considering that Belém, the city where I live, will host the UN COP 30 in 2025.

What kind of difficulties as a journalist have you faced in your region?

The Legal Amazon spans 5 million square kilometers, featuring large cities, rivers and forests. The logistics involved, obviously, come with high costs for all activities, including journalism. Hence, even established media groups/newsroom outlets in the region struggle to cover their own territory.

In addition to high costs, independent journalism also faces challenges due to a lack of resources to improve its reach. And another noteworthy aspect is the need for journalists from the Amazon region to gain more visibility and content distribution in a Brazilian media ecosystem still plagued by many issues and biases.

Finally, finding credible sources with compelling stories is a daily exercise, breaking away from traditional models that focus solely on the negative. While investigative journalism remains crucial as a vector for social transformation, it is also essential to give more space to knowledge and successful practices developed in the region.

What are you currently working on - or what do you want to work on - that you’re excited about?

I have dedicated many hours to Amazônia Vox, thinking about ways to make the platform more functional, useful for journalists and sources, and producing high-quality content for the audience interested in learning more about the region. It is in full development, including its financial sustainability and expansion in terms of content, audience, and scope.

One of the objectives is to provide an English version, which will undoubtedly expand the audience and be a valuable tool for journalists worldwide seeking information and sources from the region and potential partnerships with local professionals, positively impacting these professionals with income generation and new opportunities. As I say, it's not just a project. It's a project for a lifetime, conceived after 15 years of experience in high-level positions in public and private communication and journalism.

Finally, we are very interested in developing and are still studying how to do it: applying the use of artificial intelligence about the Amazon, with sources from the Amazon itself. It requires a lot of caution and rigorous curation, but we want to develop a way to apply generative AI with the base we are building. With this, we aim to combat the lack of diversity present in these platforms, offer other possible story insights, and diversify the voices and stories that can be produced about the region, combating the stereotype that is often reproduced by AI about the region, portraying it as a "mystical and mysterious" place. Ultimately, it is a region with high scientific and traditional knowledge that needs more spaces for its voices.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to an aspiring journalist?

Read, research, qualify yourself and stay updated. Often, the wheel doesn't need to be reinvented. Just study and learn about initiatives, apply them to your reality and execute.

Many times, we leave college imagining ourselves as reporters and seeking positions in local markets. However, the communication industry is vast, and even within journalism, there is plenty of space for journalism projects and products that can be done in partnerships. With the low production costs we have today, it's worth taking risks, testing and exercising creativity. Talk to journalism classmates, but seek other knowledge centers within the university. Value local knowledge and the richness of traditional knowledge.

And a tip I use: Add sites like ICFJ and IJNET to your frequent visits; transformative ideas that can impact your community's reality will emerge from there. When they say you should give up journalism, that AI will reduce the market, that social media will take over, and professional journalism is destined for extinction, remember the first rule of a good reporter: Question and doubt. Innovation, creativity, and rigorous and enthusiastic work will keep journalism alive, which is essential and will continue to be even more so in the society we live in.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Latest News

Intrepid Journalists from Kenya, Ukraine and Jordan Win ICFJ Knight Awards

John-Allan Namu, a reporter and media entrepreneur from Kenya, and Valeriya Yegoshyna, an investigative reporter from Ukraine, are the 2024 winners of the ICFJ Knight International Journalism Award. Rana Sabbagh, a renowned investigative editor from Jordan, is the recipient of the 2024 ICFJ Knight Trailblazer Award.

Hans Staiger Award Winner Finds Evidence Bolstering Allegations that Indian Company Overcharged for Coal

Coal that was originally designated as low-quality was sold to the state power company in India as high-quality coal for triple the cost, according to an investigation from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) led by Anand Mangnale, winner of the Hans Staiger Investigative Reporting Award.

ICFJ Voices: Jessica Buchleitner, Helping People Understand Themselves Through Journalism

Buchleitner began her career through the 2023 News Corp Media Fellowship program. She specializes in reporting on conflict, sexual violence, diplomacy, and technology, focusing on its societal impact. Sharing her insights with aspiring journalists, she advises, "Journalism is about finding a red thread and following it to see where it connects to other things."