Brazilian journalists debate the reinvention of online news

Discussions of innovations in media, technology, languages and platforms were just some of the central themes when journalists from throughout Brazil gathered June 30–July 2 in São Paulo at the 6th International Congress of Investigative Journalism organized by the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism. The program covered dozens of topics, ranging from the format of news on tablets to the practice of independent journalism on the web.

Interactivity was highlighted by the majority of panelists as one of the main features to be exploited in online journalism. "The Digital Revolution has brought interactivity … This proximity has allowed us to take criticism, demands, and new suggestions for assignments," said Marta Gleich, the journalist responsible for the Internet business of RBS Group, in the lecture "The reinvention of the news."

Reporter and host of Globo News Rafael Coimbra cited the experience of CNN to show that it is possible to obtain amateur content without compromising ethical issues. "Whether it's independently or in partnership with major media outlets, it will be possible for amateur work to approximate the work of news vehicles," he said.

The rapid exchange of information with the audience brings opportunities but also creates dilemmas. The ability to communicate well and quickly has become a need for the journalist of the 21st century, which draws from the help of the audience for continuous checking. "You post a story, and in 30 seconds the Internet user can correct you," says Antonio Prada, director of content for the Terra portal.

In addition to the challenges of production, the online format also faces challenges of language, especially for mobile devices. In the lecture "Journalism and tablets," the director of online content for Estadão, Cláudia Belfort, noted that newspapers do not have specific production for the device, and despite experiments in progress, journalism is still looking for directions about how to produce for new media.

Despite the uncertain future, journalists can trace an alternative route to produce in the online environment, outside of the mainstream media. According to Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Lab, investigative journalism online is a trend that is increasing every year in the United States.

Journalist Natalia Viana of the Pública investigative news agency presented her organization's work as a concrete example that one can go beyond hard news with independent journalism on the web. "I was able to do articles and place them on multiple platforms. It gave me a financial return that allowed us to spend nearly two months only producing a more interesting story," she concludes.

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.