Journalist and Educators
BRICS, 4 June 2012
by Thomás S. Selistre – TRANSCEND Media Service
The creation of a real and sustainable democracy in Brazil, as in any other mature society, will not be possible without the active role of the media. But now, when I say media, I do not mean the outlets owned by big corporations, which will always filter the information through the interests of the propaganda and the elite. I talk about an alternative journalism, that uses the internet as a tool to express itself and interact with the world.
Jeffrey Ghannam, in the study published last march for the Center of International Media Assistance, in Washington, analyses the importance of the digital media in the North of Africa on year after the so-called Arab Spring and argue: “(…) the internet potential as a tool that can help the process of democratization is undeniable (…) The enabling impact of social media networks and platforms (…) has been firmly established”.
It’s to this same power that Richard Lance Keeble, researcher of the Lincoln University, refers at the book “Peace Journalism, War and Conflict Resolution”, affirming that, in his point of view, “the internet and blogosphere only become interesting when they serve challenge the mainstream as crucial elements in progressive social and political movements”.
In Brazil, although around 78 million citizens older than 16, according to Ibope/Nielsen (2011), have access to the internet, we still are a country with significant social problems in all levels of the society, like corruption, minorities and environmental issues, social marginalization and a strong presence of patriarchate. Considering the changes of the last years at this society and, as Brazilian, I ask myself what is missing to originate also in that country an “Arab Spring” – a movement genuinely social, born in the bases of our citizenship
The experience that the Brazilians are living for the first time in their history of economical development (every day more visible in the streets with the increase of the medium class) can lead us to reflect about the development of their critical thought. And, following the theory related to the hierarchy of human needs by Maslow, I feel that, if we keep focusing in social programs, individual needs will gradually be changed by collective ones.
Therefore, it is the moment to risk ourselves, as academics and journalists, analyzing in which way we could progress in a moral and ethic development, not only rendering problematic at those needs linked to the strength of the economic growth, but also at those one which would make possible a stronger social cohesion.
This might be the moment when our needs start to be replaced by others that, consequently, would make possible a stage of questioning the society we live in, rethinking universal issues as structural inequalities and the meaning of using creative to resolve conflicts. We could be living the appropriate moment to start a social change, something endemic that, making use of Lederach’s theory of the critical mass, would start and spread around the country; a process of empowerment that, however, would only be possible with the support of the society.
An important factor for the apathy and disaggregation of the Brazilian society its lack of critical thought, and the empowerment of this society in reason to be socially active should pass first through its development. How? Focusing the education at reading skills. The youth in a democratic and developed country must be capable of revealing tricks and secrets of a text and disclose its ambiguities. We need to prepare citizens to realize the importance of the information and understand how our traditional media behaves, contrasting fonts and reading between the lines. In this manner, we avoid new victims of the alienation and the deterrent caused by corporate media and political propaganda.
Students could, for example, play the leading role in a campaign of education focused at the development of this critical thought, speaking up for the democracy and showing the society that it has the world at its hand. People should know they can also find information of high quality all around the web, in blogs, forums or alternative journals, and they can use it to contrast with what is published at the mainstream media.
The internet is, in addition, a way of making the society stronger. It is through computers that someone from south Brazil could interchange experiences about fair trade and farm household with and NGO in Spain or a student in the state of Mato Grosso with a basic level of English could debate about social movements and politics with a social activist from Greece. It would be naïve to say that this conclusion is new, but it is still necessary to universalize this idea.
Hence, the last step should be to convince people that they make part of this digital world. A world where the citizens compromise themselves in being watchdogs of the economic and political elite of their city. Where, furthermore, every person can be journalist and educator, committed with the social justice and the nonviolence. Capable of creating nets and demonstrate their point of view together. And only critics and well informed people may fight against uncertainty and impotence in regard to build a real and solid democracy.
The author is journalist and filmmaker and wrote a version of this text originally for the Brazilian webpage Observatório da Imprensa.
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 3.0 United States License.