This week, Januária’s schools and colleges will receive this poster. It invites students to subscribe at the Friends of Januária project, which will take place in September and October, at Olegário Maciel Public School. It says: “Learn journalism skills and how to use digital tools that help to monitor what happens in your town – for example, how public resources are being spent”. To subscribe, the student must be studying at the last semester of High School or he must have graduated between 2008 and 2010. We already sent 120 of these posters to 10 schools and asked them to put them up at their classrooms. Subscriptions can be done until 19/08 at our new blog (in Portuguese): http://amigosdejanuaria.wordpress.com.
One of the most interesting parts of the citizen media project “Friends of Januaria” is preparing its content of the workshops. Among other things, this week we started planing the contents we want to discuss during the workshops. Initially, we have defined six main themes that will guide the course: access to information and freedom of expression as human rights; public administration and public budget; corruption; journalism techniques and tools; how to search information and, finally, how to store and process information.
The topics we listed may seem a little weird at first: why talk about the right of access to information and freedom of expression to people that are starting a course on how to access information and share it? Aren’t the concepts of these rights already clear to the population?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. Brazil’s Federal Constitution recognizes the right to access to information and also signed the international standards that guarantees it. However, there are few and sparse pieces of legislation that effectively stipulate that all public institutions must give information to the citizens and the ways and conditions in which it must be given. This results in a culture of secrecy that little by little is being changed. As we said before, nowadays there are a lot of initiatives making public data available to the population – these are the ones we want to publicize in this project and teach people how to use them. But we also believe it is very important to contextualize the situation of access to information in freedom of expression in Brazil, so people can realize when their rights are being violated and fight against that, since we still have a long way to go.
That’s why we are planning to structure the workshops in a way that we can have a part with discussions on some topics of theory and a part with more practical techniques (how to make interviews, how to write in a blog, how to find information, etc.). The idea is also to plan activities for the participants to apply their knowledge and get in touch with the reality of the city by visiting places, interviewing people and researching in public databases.
During the next weeks, we hope to share in a deeper way more about each of these topics, since we are starting our researches and soon will start writing the material.
Just to let you know: this week we got in touch with some possible partners in Januaria to introduce the project and they all seemed very open and interested. Here in São Paulo we are still contacting some organizations in order to find the final financial support we need to buy the tickets to Januaria and we have some important meetings this week, so… wish us luck!!