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Round Table Debates Role of Journalism in Regional Development

The Social Innovation Fair, held in Mexico City’s Universidade Autônoma Metropolitana (UAM), opened with a round table debate on The Role of Journalism in Latin American and Caribbean Social Development. Guest speakers discussing the topic were Gabriela Frías, a Mexican journalist from the television network CNN en Español, and the Brazilian journalist Engel Paschoal, a columnist for the Internet content provider Universo Online and the newspaper O Globo. They were joined by Antonio Paoli Bolio, professor at the Xochimilco Unit of UAM, who spoke about the Human Development program run by the university in the Mexican state of Chiapas, and by Francisco Tancredi, the Kellogg Foundation regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, who moderated the discussion.
Journalism was considered by all of them as being strategically important for the success of social projects. “You can only lend visibility to a social action if you know how to communicate it competently,” explained the professor Antonio Paoli.

The panelist Engel Paschoal, meanwhile, submitted some figures about the Brazilian press. He drew attention to the growing coverage of topics associated with social responsibility and development by the country’s traditional media over the past decade. Nevertheless, he still considered the amount of space allotted to news from the social sector as being modest. “NGO publications, community radios and, primarily, the Internet have performed the role of informing audiences what social organizations are involved with,” said Paschoal.

Gabriela Frías, who presents a program on finance and economics for Latin American audiences on the CNN Spanish-language network, considers it natural that the Third Sector’s own means of communication should place more emphasis on subjects of interest to the sector. “This does not mean to say that we should abandon efforts to open space in the mainstream press for social topics,” she said in her address.

Towards the end of the discussion, the attending public – made up of representatives of the finalist projects participating in the Social Innovation Fair and students and professors from UAM – asked the panelists what social organizations can do to convince journalists to cover their work. “It’s necessary to cultivate a medium to long-term relationship with the press as information sources,” explained Gabriela Frías. “Good reporters place a value on sources that offer broader topics of interest for society – not just for specific audiences. It’s a relationship that is built on patience and mutual trust.”

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Experiences in Social Innovation Award


Published in Interaction nº 19



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