Brazil: Reporters honored for investigative reporting | Latin America | DW | 05.05.2014
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Latin America

Brazil: Reporters honored for investigative reporting

Four radio journalists who took part in a DW Akademie workshop have just been awarded one of Brazil's most important journalism prizes. Their reports look at some of the social problems existing in the Amazon region.

Brasilien Journalistenpreis Microfone de Prata Preisträgerin Gecylene Sales

Journalist Gecylene Sales (centre) during the award ceremony

Journalists Gecylene Sales and Eanes Silva required both persistence and sensitivity to find a victim of human trafficking who was willing to tell her story. The center of their award-winning report is a 19 year-old woman who was kidnapped from Brazil's Amazon region and taken to Venezuela, where she was forced into prostitution. She fled her captors under great risk, and, with the help of local police, returned to Brazil. Now back in her hometown of Boa Vista, she lives under police protection. Her escape led to the uncovering of a large prostitution ring and as a result she now regularly receives death threats.

In the areas of Suriname and Guyana that border Venezuela, forced prostitution is one of the most serious problems. Radio journalists Sales and Silva took part in DW Akademie's workshop on investigative reporting that was held in Boa Vista in late 2013; they saw prostitution as an obvious topic to tackle. "The report involved intensive research and sensitive, confidential talks with the former victim," says project manager Helena Ferro de Gouveia who conducted the workshop together with co-trainer Ivana Ebel. During the training sessions, Sales, Silva and eight other journalists from the Amazon region learned more about conducting research and interviews as well as protecting sources and informants.

Exposing social wrongs

"Our goal is to help strengthen critical, independent journalism in the region and to help give a voice to minorities and other marginalized groups," says Rodrigo Villarzú, head of DW Akademie's Latin America division. Critical and up-to-date reporting is not a given in the Amazon region. People living in remote areas have little access to the media, and news - on social conflicts for example - rarely reaches them.

DW Akademie in Brasilien

Workshop participants with trainer and project manager Helena Ferro de Gouveia

Another report, by workshop participants Aroldo Bruce and Alcinio Limo, took a close look at indigenous communities in northern Brazil and examined their efforts to maintain their own cultures. Indigenous groups in Brazil are still marginalized. They live mainly on reservations and are subject to social conflicts, discrimination and repeated land confiscation. The groups told Bruce and Lima that although they face daunting odds to maintain their identity, the general population is starting to accept their way of life.

On May 1, 2014 the two journalist teams received the Microfone de Prata (Silver Microphone). It is one of the country's most prestigious awards and was presented in Aparecida, São Paulo. "Competition for this award is enormous," says Helena Ferro de Gouveia, "and so it's exceptional that two reports by participants from the workshop have been honored at the same time." The award-winning reports were broadcast on Radio Mar de Manaus, a DW Akademie partner station.

DW Akademie supported the RNA Network (Rede de Notícias da Amazónia) in the Amazon region with training and consultations from 2010 to 2013. The workshop on investigative journalism concluded the project.

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