Brazilian network of communicators to discuss journalism from the periphery

On Sept. 16 in São Paulo, the Rede de Jornalistas da Periferia (Network of Journalists of the Periphery) will hold Virada Comunicação 2017, an event to discuss and propose new approaches to journalism from the point of view of communicators and residents of the regions most disconnected from the centers of Brazil’s great cities.

"Virada Comunicação starts from a question: does news have a ZIP code, race, gender, social class?" Ronaldo Matos, a member of the Network, told the Knight Center. Matos is part of the collective Desenrola e Não me Enrola, one of the 13 groups of communicators that form the Network of Journalists of the Periphery. The network is made of communicators from different regions often neglected by public officials and the mainstream press.

According to Matos, the interaction among journalists from the outskirts of São Paulo emerged in September 2016, during the city’s last municipal elections. The communicators came together to bring to the forefront the interests of those who live in places far from the decision-making center of the city.

The main motivation was "the concern of those who produced communication in the periphery in relation to mainstream media’s approach to the electoral process in the city," Matos explained. The critique of coverage of the mainstream press concerning the peripheries, which led to the creation of the network, is also the motto of the event that takes place on September 16.

"When the mainstream media addresses issues such as violence or urban infrastructure, it creates more stereotypes around the periphery rather than bring important information to the private sector, the public sector and the population", the communicator said. "When it does this, it creates gaps: those who live in the center consider those who live in the periphery to be criminals, and those who live in the periphery consider those who live in the center to be successful when the reality is quite different."

Virada Comunicação intends to point out the differences between the reality conveyed in the mainstream press and that experienced by the residents of the outskirts of São Paulo and other major Brazilian cities. The event will include debates on topics such as public safety, education, culture, the environment, right to communication, as well as gender, sexual, and ethnic-racial diversity in the peripheries, among others.

"The motto of Virada is: how is the periphery being portrayed in the media? How should we report on the periphery? And how do we, journalists from the periphery, contribute to the mainstream media changing their approach?" Matos explained.

To foster this debate, the organization sought to favor the participation of residents of the peripheral regions of São Paulo and students and communication professionals, both from collectives and conventional media.

One notable feature of the event, he said, is that the debates will not only join communicators, but also researchers, artists and social activists living on the periphery and working to improve the lives of the residents of those regions. "These people are the source of information in the press, they are people like those who lose their children, [murdered] by the Military Police," Matos said.

"When you put only journalists [in the debate], we have a perception in the third person, from whoever tells the stories. In Virada, we will bring those who live in the first person the reality of the periphery, with a journalist who works in that place to mediate these conversations," the communicator explained.

The mediators will be members of some of the 13 collectives that form the Network: Alma PretaCapão NewsCasa no Meio do MundoDesenrola E Não Me EnrolaDiCampana Foto ColetivoDoLadoDeCáHistorioramaImargemMural – Agência de Jornalismo das PeriferiasPeriferia em MovimentoPeriferia InvisívelTV Grajaú and Nós, Mulheres da Periferia.

The event will also promote interventions and shows by artists from the periphery and workshops for communication students. Registration for Virada has already been closed, but there is an open waiting list for anyone interested in participating in the event, which will take place at the Grajaú Cultural Center, in the south zone of São Paulo, between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. on Sept. 16.

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.