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.
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!