They Call Themselves “Ninjas”
Brazil, journalism, media, ninja media, Rio de Janeiro, Tino Comunicação
Is there a new game-changer in Brazilian journalism? Laís Cattassini of Tino Comunicação, GLOBALHealthPR’s partner in Brazil discusses.
Here in Brazil, there is no question journalism has seen a dramatic change over the years. Although I am not old enough to have experienced what some would call “the good old days,” my generation is now part of a new way of making news.
One group of young people is trying to do it differently—trying to change the way we produce and consume the news. They call themselves “ninjas.” Not as in warriors or as in spies. Well…maybe. NINJA is an acronym for “Narrativas Independentes, Jornalismo e Ação” (Independent Narratives, Journalism and Action). Unlike big-media journalists, these ninjas are part of the action, sometimes even provoking the facts.
Their notoriety began with the protests that took over Brazil in June. Trying to tell the “true” story of the protesters and what was happening in the streets, young journalists from all over the country went to the protests with mobile cameras and tablets, using 3G internet to report live from centre of the action. What they did, according to them, was give a true and raw view of what was going on, something the regular press hadn’t been doing. But that active participation is a tricky issue. Those who do not agree with the ninjas say they are very fast to demonize political organizations they don’t agree with.
The ninjas themselves admit they have strong political views and are not afraid to report on those. During protests in Rio de Janeiro two “activist-journalists” were arrested and continued broadcasting live on the internet. This led to massive public support. Consequently, the ninjas also got more credibility. They were not just seeing things from the outside like traditional journalists, they were being arrested like many other protesters. They could speak on behalf of the people in the streets.
Their way of making journalism, however, doesn’t have a long shelf life outside of this scenario. Trying to cover the Pope’s visit to Rio de Janeiro, they failed miserably because of what was perceived as superficial coverage amid the commotion. The same happened when they got an exclusive interview with Rio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes. Unprepared, they asked obvious questions and seemed unaware of many government projects.
Like it or not, the ninja media is defying traditional media. They are inviting young and passionate journalists to report, which is something newspapers, magazines and broadcasters are not doing. And, they are not afraid of telling what their political tendencies are.
It is easy to criticize ninja journalists and ask for unbiased news and objectivity. It is easy to shout at them and ask who is funding their ambitious project. However, the ninjas are showing how passionate journalists can be and how important it is to tell stories about people. How the public itself is hungry for action and participation more than they are hungry for facts. They are showing how the internet can be a bigger ally to the traditional media and how things must change.
Is this the future of journalism? I don’t really know, but it’s a start.