We don’t have an everyday chance to talk to the NINJA. Luckily, today we have that privilege.
Midia NINJA has a great impact on Brazilian media and their activism has become a symbol of the new media. All about Midia NINJA, their driving force, work and goals told us Felipe Altenfelder Silva – one of the NINJA editors.
Q: What is Midia NINJA ?
A: Midia NINJA is an online platform which is the result of nearly two years of free media experiences. Using the internet attributes, easy wifi, 3g access and with equipment at a low price, we put ourselves to make an alternative work of media, bringing people together at a network with ability to inform things that the mass medias can’t.
Q: How did you get the idea to create this group ?
A: From practice. The initial group comes from experience of the Out of Axis Network (Fora do Eixo), where they learn about independent communication, working mainly with festivals, debates, shows and cultural events, but saw the huge demand of an alternative source of information, given that the big media companies in Brazil are historically owned by less than 10 families that have the same political view. So we started to show things we wanted to find out about more, or seek for the seconds opinions on several subjects.
Q: What do you stand for ?
A: Free, independent and citizen journalism. We believe the internet brought many possibilities of information, and more than ever we should let the contradictions show up. A journalist or a media group can not hide what they think about everything, but the opposite: make it clear. This way people can see through masks and build their own opinions by seeking different and honest points of view about the information that are demanded. It involves fight for public efforts, but it also mean that we can prove it’s possible by doing it.
Q: You have a cool name. Tell us more about it.
A: NINJA is an acronym for ‘Narrativas Independentes, Jornalismo e Ação’, wich means ‘Independent Narratives, Journalism and Action’.
Q: How media in Brazil work ?
A: In Brazil, there’s what we call the ‘Major Media’. This expression refers to the great groups of communication, such as ‘Globo’, ‘Abril’, Folha de São Paulo/UOL and some others that control a huge numbers of magazines, tv stations, newspapers, radio stations and websites. This companies belong to less than 10 families, and they, specially TV Globo, are the only ones who really speaks to 99% of the population and get to places no other media can. These 10 families have the same political thought, and their companies have mainly commons editorial guides. On the other hand, there is a stable and growing movement of free media, getting stronger as long as the internet access grows. Along with communitary radios, independent blogs, newspapers, magazines, online tv stations and other groups have been fighting for laws that make communication more democratic.
Today, the concessions for use of TV Stations and Radio are given by the governments, there’s no democratic selection or division, is a matter of choice. Even with this, the private companies claim that their activity is private and they can act by their minds.
Q: Is there any sort of cooperation between mainstream and citizen journalism in your country ?
A: No. There are few spaces for this kind of activities, and it can not be called cooperation.
Q: Midia NINJA – future plans.
A: To connect several different groups of independent and citizen journalism in Brazil. To confront information in the big cities is important, but more important is to give visibility to those who don’t have: rural areas, north of the country, inner northeast, what we call of the Deep Brasil – Brasil profundo. This way we can make a strong, independent, distributed and diverse network of citizen journalism.
Q: How do you see citizen journalism in the future?
A: We’re in the middle of a battle, and I think this is the moment for citizen journalism to flourish in the whole world. We see, day after day, new attempts to control the internet, and when we ask ourselves why, the answer is clear: look at all the power they have given to those who got access to it. Even with the big data and with a lot of “problems” people can point out, it is directly connected to the fight of access to information in the world. So, focusing on the battle, I see a golden age not only for citizen, but for all kind of journalism, because there is no way out anymore. The communication groups are in a historical crisis, and yet we are better informed than ever. It’s something to think about.