Media from southeastern Brazil and reports on health, rights and the environment dominate journalism awards in the country

In just one year, Brazilian journalists received almost $1 million (U.S.) in prizes for their work. This is according to a recent report published by premiosdejornalismo.com, a site that catalogs awards available to journalists working in the South American country, with the idea that these prizes contribute to strengthening the trade.

The authors analyzed 98 awards worth a total 2.8 million Brazilian Real that were given to 1,375 individuals and 793 works from 2015 to 2016.

Most award-winning journalists were from southeastern Brazil (48.3 percent of cash prizes), especially from São Paulo (238 of all professionals recognized in awards open to applicants around the country) and worked individually (82.7 percent) in traditional (95.8 percent) and print (28.3 percent) outlets.

"There is a very strong journalism force in the southeast that influences the rest of the country. The number of outlets, the money they generate, the companies that finance them, the professionals, the size of the population and even the offer of higher education courses," said one of the site’s creators, Gustavo Panacioni, who also highlighted journalism awards in Rio Grande do Sul that provide more opportunities for regional reporters.

The site also mapped the most common issues in the award-winning reports. When excluding prizes that gave more weight to a single issue, the top five topics were health (12.41 percent), rights (10.14 percent) and the environment (9.62 percent). Among the main categories, the researchers also found the most frequent sub-themes were drugs and sanitation (20.3 percent each in the “health” category), human rights (30.6 percent in the “rights” category) and sustainable practices (46.3 percent of works on the environment).

"To realize, for example, that human rights issues and access to justice are the most awarded when it comes to the issue of ‘rights,’ brings us some tips on recurring subjects in Brazil. The tragedy in Mariana is another example of the period we analyzed: it appears in third place in the ‘environment’ theme,” Panacioni said.

For those who wish to apply for awards, the report can be a useful source of tips, especially regarding when to apply. According to the survey, most prizes have deadlines between August and November.

Panacioni explained that the purpose of the report is to begin to annually "register this vast market for journalism awards to create more and more in-depth analysis." In this context, one of the most important pieces of data is the amount awarded in cash prizes, which can help the work of freelancers and independent journalism initiatives, according to Panacioni.

"[The value] gives an interesting picture of how prizes can function as a direct form of financial support for our market, which has faced constant crises, precariousness and renovations since the last century. Of course, there is no viability for the professional to start living financially off of journalism awards, but I believe that in some cases there is a fundamental piece of support," he said.

The journalist said that so far in 2017, premiosdejornalismo.com has registered at least 127 opportunities, which is 14 more than the previous year. Panacioni believes that for the next report, the number of awards may reach 130 –a considerable increase.

"All these statistics that we have been able to reveal with the 98 awards surveyed give us an idea that opportunities go beyond Esso or Embratel," he said, citing two of the most traditional journalism awards in Brazil.

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.