Online materials

Hi everybody!

As we prepare to the 4th weekend of the course Friends of Januária, we would like to announce that the first part of the course materials is online!

You can download it here.

It has contents on citizen journalism, how to create and post in a WordPress blog, how to submit an information request to public institution and others.

Hope you enjoy it!

Second weekend

The second weekend of the Friends of Januária project had a very special guest: Arthur Serra Massuda, from the organization Article 19, who talked to the participants about the importance of access to information to citizens and citizen journalists.

In his presentation, Arthur emphasized the idea of access to information as a right, and contextualized how it is being implemented in Brazil. He also gave access to information models made especially for journalists and some materials produced by Article 19. The idea is that the participants can use it to make research on the subjects they want to write about.

After Arthur’s presentation, Fábio Oliva showed some examples of how access to information is important to fight corruption. The participants were very interested and asked a lot of questions about their city. We also taked about the functioning of the public administration and public budget.

Our 17 young citizen journalists seemed to be very interested in learning about some of the rules governments should abide to. After some questions, we started to work on their first texts that were published on the blog: http://amigosdejanuaria.wordpress.com.

We commented on each one and gave some tips on how they can improve their writing. Amanda, Fábio, and I were very glad to see their first texts, most of them were very mature and interesting, considering that this was their first experience with journalistic texts.

The group is very excited and seems to be anxious to write more. We talked a little more about how journalism sometimes means hard work and that in some cases it will take long until they can find all the information they need for their stories.

We also had a discussion on anonymity, since we were worried that they could suffer restrictions on public services because of their work on the project. Some of them have decided not to identify themselves on the blog.

Fábio, Jamila, Sueli and Arthur after the second class

The main challenge we are facing in Januária until now is the use of computers in the class. Although we have a very nice laboratory available, a lot of the computers have software problems and the internet connection sometimes is too slow. We are trying to work on that, but because of that, the group had to post their first entries on the blog from home, since we couldn’t do that together on class. This has delayed some of the program, especially the exercises, that they are not able to start with us.

This weekend the group is in company of Fábio Oliva and Márcio Couto, from CGU, an institution that is responsible for monitoring the public administration in different areas (municipal, state, and federal). They will be talking about corruption and how to fight it!

Report on the first meetings

Friends of Januária’s course on citzen media started on September 3-4 with 14 participants excited to become reporters.

The first meeting started with a quick speech from Luiz Carlos Matos, the director of the school where the course will take place, to welcome the students. After him, Fábio Oliva and I presented ourselves and the course. The participants introduced themselves by telling their names, careers they have had or want to have once they graduate, neighborhoods they come from and something in this neighborhood they think could be different.

Panel with the things the participants would like to be different in their neighborhood.

Their answers opened a discussion on the importance of the citizen journalist to their communities. From that, we started to talk about what is citizen journalism and how it can provide more information to people.

We followed this subject with a quick activity in which the participants had to research on the internet what information they found about Januária. After this, the group started discussing the role of the mass communication companies and some questions arose:

  • What is a news story?
  • Who determines what is or what is not news?
  • Where to find news?
  • How to write news?

In order to answer this, Fábio and I talked about some foundations of journalism, such as: its commitment to the public interest and truth; the selection of a subject and the structure of the news.

Finnaly, the participants talked about their experiences with internet and blogs and created their accounts on WordPress to start participating on the Friends of Januária’s blog.

On this first day, all the participants received a kit with a folder, a notebook, a pen, and the first volume of the book we made for the project. The ones who were selected to participate in the course (besides them we invited three people to participate as visitors to the course) also received a book on how to fight corruption in small cities (that were donated to the project by Amigos de Ribeirão Bonito NGO) and a pen-drive.

On Saturday, the participants also decided what time the classes would be and what would be the tolerance for delays. They agreed with some basic rules for the course, too.

The local TV channel of Januária – TV Norte – registered the first activities of the course and interviewed Fábio, myself, and two of the young participants to know what were their expectations.

Getting started!

On Sunday at 8 a.m., the young journalists were all together again to start working!

The day started with a quick chat on what is journalistc research and how to do interviews. After that, the group was divided in three smaller ones to prepare a field activity in which they would search for news in Januária by interviewing people and taking pictures of what called their attention.

Bellow are some pictures took by them during this activitiy:

Each group received equipments to register the interviews and take pictures. For about an hour they walked around Januária’s downtown looking for subjects to develop for their stories.

At the end, they met again to share with each other what they had found during their walk. We took notes on the subjects and each participant chose one to research and write about during the week.

Course materials: guide to citizen journalism and book about the fight against corruption

As you all know, the project’s workshops will start tomorrow! Today, we organize the course materials that will be given to each student: a pratical guide to citizen journalists written by the project’s team, one book called “The Fight Against Corruption in Brazilian Towns” and a flash drive. We also bought two cameras and one hand cam! Can’t wait to use these materials with the students!

Announcing the participants

We are very happy to announce that we already have the list of 15 participants of Friends of Januária’s project.

In the selection process we analized the answers the applicants gave to a form. Our basic requirements were age (since we wanted to work with young people from Januária) and school grade. Besides that, we analized the candidates’ opinions on subjects related to the project.

Although this wasn’t a requirement to participate on the project, we also priorized the candidates that had some previous experience in political or communitary activities and social movements. According to some partners that had other experiences in capacity buildings projects in Brazil, a great dificulty is to make people commit to a hole course. Their experiences showed that people who are related to other organizations might take more seriously their commitment to the project.

Among the selected ones, we have young people from 17 to 26 years old and all of them have finished or will finish high school this year.

We were are very glad with the application process we were able to take in Januaria: at the end of 23 days, 51 candidates applied to it.

One of the questions we made the candidates answer to apply was was “How did you got to know the project?”, so we could evaluate the efficiency of our publicity. At the end we had the following results:

21 through a poster we put on important places for our target public (such as schools)
12 through the internet
5 through the radio
15 through TV
1 through other media

The variety of media in which these 51 people got to know the project makes us believe that we had a significative publicity. So we are very happy that ended up well too, since we had some dificulties in the middle of this proccess.

Our classes will start this weekend (September 3rd and 4th) so soon we will have more news to tell!