The Catraca Livre blog: A citizen engagement initiative transforms into a news agency

Brazilian journalist Gilberto Dimenstein created the blog Catraca Livre (Open Turnstile) with the goal of informing the public about free or cheap cultural and social events in an effort to improve citizen engagement. "We noticed that there was a huge demand for this," he said.

According to Dimenstein, one of the panelists at the 13th International Symposium on Online Journalism, the project has been a success. During his presentation, he spoke about partnering with other businesses to create a network of services available to the public, and the importance of such a digital tool in a big city like São Paulo.

In an interview with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, Dimenstein said that the middle-class is his blog's target audience, which is why he invests in distributing blog content on the radio, buses, and metro system. "Our Facebook page, for example, has 120,000 users... and our Twitter 80,000 users. We're on the radio, newspapers, and on websites. We have transformed into a news agency in order to have an impact," he said.

The blog recently received international recognition, and is in the running for best Portuguese-language blog in the 8th annual Deutsche Welle Blog Awards. Vote here to support the blog. Voting ends Wednesday, May 2.

See below a video (in Portuguese) of the Knight Center's interview with Dimenstein.

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