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Latin America

Brazil: On location for the protests

The mass protests in Brazil have given participants of the "Once Amigos" project an unexpected opportunity to rehearse reporting from the field ahead of next year's soccer World Cup in Brazil.

In the second phase of a long-term DW Akademie project, 22 Latin American and German journalists came to Brazil to cover the preparations for the 2014 World Cup championship. The two week soccer Confederations Cup just held in Brazil was supposed to be the focus of the trip. But the protests changed all that. Journalists Pablo López Hurtado from Venezuela and Sebastián Espiño from Argentina recount their experience.

We're in room 132 on the 13th floor of a hotel in Brazil's largest city, São Paulo. Night has fallen and down on the streets below, tens of thousands of people are protesting against corruption. The protests here are part of massive demonstrations taking place all over the country. We've set up a makeshift news desk together with DW Akademie trainer, Johannes Metzler, and our eyes are glued to our laptops. It's going to be a long night.

Over the next hours, our network of reporters upload material to our temporary news room: photos from Rio de Janeiro, video from Fortaleza and audio from Rio Branco as well as clips of students marching on the streets of São Paulo. Initially sparked by hikes in bus fares in several Brazilian cities, the protests have been gaining momentum. People are now voicing discontent about a variety of social issues, including the high costs of hosting the 2014 World Cup soccer championship.

04.2013 DW Akademie Projekt Südamerika Once Amigos Brasilien: Once Amigos, ein Projekt der DW Akademie zur Fußballweltmeisterschaft. Elf Journalistenpärchen aus Deutschland und Lateinamerika berichten Geschichten hinter dem Ball. Bild: DW Akademie/Johannes Metzler

Journalists Pablo López Hurtado and Sebastián Espiño

We journalists aren't official correspondents but instead participants in DW Akademie’s project "Once Amigos" ("Eleven Friends"). The project has brought together 11 Latin American journalists and 11 German journalists to tell stories on and around soccer and the Brazil World Cup. The aim of the project is to discover stories behind the event that have little to do with the ball.

We all met for the first time last December, when the project got underway in Bonn, Germany. Here in Brazil during this year's Confederation Cup, the goal has been to report from some of the cities also hosting next year's World Cup, and to give us a warm-up for 2014. We weren't expecting these protests, however, or that they would become the focus of our reporting. Everyone has been working in teams made up of one Latin American journalist and one German journalist, giving us an opportunity to exchange views on the way we work, how we see things and what our concept of journalism is.

Back at the hotel, we scramble to coordinate the reporters, sort the material and upload it to our blog. The journalists are covering the demonstrations from two different angles: reporting on what’s happening on the streets, and putting the protests into an international context.

As we work through the night, we continue to be impressed by the way journalism connects us all, and how it is a language we all share. Whether we're print, radio, television or online journalists, everyone has been giving their best to get interesting and evocative stories from different locations using different media. It's a rare opportunity to be involved in such a dynamic project.

Our time in Brazil is the second phase of the two-year project. Towards the end of 2013, each German participant will visit his or her team member in Latin America. The final phase will take place in 2014 at the World Cup in Brazil. With thirty two soccer teams competing, there will be countless stories to uncover and we, the "Once Amigos" will be there to tell them.

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