Brazilian journalists create site featuring award opportunities to help colleagues and improve profession

Collecting information about journalism awards in Brazil has become something of an obsession for journalist Gustavo Panacioni.

“In my free time, whenever I can, I search for news in the area. The project went from a simple desire to organize an agenda of journalism awards to something that could really make a difference for Brazilian journalists,” Panacioni told the Knight Center. “That's what I believe in. Journalism awards can contribute to strengthening newspapers, journalists and stories.”

Two years after he began compiling prizes in May 2015, the site he maintains –prêmiosdejornalismo.com – now features a database of 226 journalism awards for Brazilians.

Fellow journalist and site co-founder Katia Brembatti explained that the idea for the site came out of necessity.

“After I won a few awards, many colleagues consulted me in the hopes that I could tell them where to find contests or awards to register reports they had made,” said Brembatti, recipient of Brazil’s most prestigious journalism prize, the Esso Grand Prize for Journalism. “I did not know how to respond. And every time I looked for a list, I found incomplete links that did not contain some of the awards I was familiar with.”

And so, Panacioni, Brembatti and colleague Ana Krüger got to work.

Journalists can search by applicant skill level, reporting theme, geographical range, media type, and prize amount. Individual entries include this information and links to additional award details, as well as a clock counting down the months and days until the application deadline.

Brembatti admitted that the idea to create the site was partially motivated by personal anxiety about missing a deadline to apply for a prize. The alert system was a solution for that problem. After creating an individual account on the site, users can then save alerts for particular awards that will be shown under the “My Awards” section.

The database includes prizes like the Petrobras Journalism Award, which comes with 31,800 Reais (about US $10,200), to the lesser known SAMPAPÃO Journalism Award, which “seeks to stimulate and improve the dissemination of the bakery industry…as well as the dissemination of the benefits of bread to consumer’s health.”

Panacioni explained that many awarding organizations do not have websites and do not publicize. Consequently, many journalists who would benefit are simply unaware of the opportunities.

In addition to his full-time job and finishing a Master’s degree, Panacioni uses his nights to build the database. Last week alone, he added nine new awards that he didn’t know existed.

While other organizations keep track of and publicize awards, he explained that prêmiosdejornalismo.com is unique as a searchable platform that can be customized by individual users. He and his colleagues have been approached by journalists wanting consultation applying for awards tailored to their specialties.

Currently, Panacioni is writing a report analyzing the recipients of journalism awards in Brazil from 2015 to 2016. He’ll look at which news outlets and journalists have received the most awards, as well as which themes received the most recognition. As some awards recognize multiple individuals, he estimates he’s looked at 500 to 600 journalists, so far.

James T. Hamilton’s “Democracy’s Detectives: The Economics of Investigative Journalism,” particularly his analysis of how journalism awards might be a way to measure impact, is informing the project, according to Panacioni.

For the recipients, Brembatti explained that awards are a kind of public recognition for a job well-done, often accompanied with a monetary reward for the journalist.

“They often work as a stimulus for the journalist to continue good work. It’s sort of a seal, like saying ‘Go ahead. You’re on the right track,’” she said. “It also impacts the career of some journalists, boosting the resumé.”

The awards also “highlight the relevance of the press to society,” she added.

In addition to the Prêmios de Jornalismo website and social media accounts, journalists looking for information on upcoming awards deadlines can follow Panacioni’s new monthly post for media monitoring organization Observatório da Imprensa.

August is part of the busiest time of year for journalism awards; May to September is the time of year when the highest number of contests are accepting applications. There are currently 41 awards accepting applications, according to the site.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.