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Interview: Paulo Lima, from the Information Network for the Third Sector (Rits)

Rits is a virtual information network consisting of hundreds of outfits from South America. It was set up in 1997 for the purpose of strengthening civil society organizations and social movements. The network has a special advisory status in the United Nations Economic and Social Council. In this interview, executive director Paulo Lima talks about the work of the network.

How would you define Rits?
We are an internet provider offering information services for civil society at a low cost and based on relations of trust.

What do you mean by relations of trust?
The information of interest to the third sector still enjoys very little exposure in the traditional media – particularly in Latin America, where the media is largely concentrated in small groups of society. The press has some difficulty reporting on the so-called positive agenda of society. This discovery convinced us that we needed to create an information service from the perspective of social organizations to enable this news to circulate.

What examples of Rits communication actions can you give?
The World Social Forum, which is held annually, is an important project for us. We handle the communication of the event – not just the publicity leading up to it, but also the reporting. Another example is the work we do for Fase (Federation of Education and Social Welfare Organizations), one of the most traditional Brazilian social groups – founded 45 years ago. One other associate we assist is Ibase (Brazilian Institute of Social and Economic Analysis), which was one of the groups that spearheaded the debate on hunger in Brazil.

What tools were used for this?
The Internet is the medium we work with. To improve our work in this area, we have recently created the Social Mosaic website. www.mosaicosocial.org

What kind of content does Social Mosaic have?
The site offers information from the viewpoint of Latin American civil society. Each organization is responsible for the selection and production of the content – text, audio and video – on their country. This content is taken from Rits. These days, the network is formed by 330 social organizations from nine South American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. But one of our objectives is to expand the network to the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Published in Interaction nº 18

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