By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The residents of Rio’s favela communities, which make up nearly a quarter of the city’s population, will gain a new printed newspaper next month published by Voz das Comunidades (Voice of the Community), according to a government news source.
Voz das Comunidades was launched in Complexo do Alemão in 2005 as a Portuguese-language, primarily online news outlet focused on issues of residents of favela communities. It mainly covers under-represented and under-reported happenings in neighborhoods where writers live.
Starting in February, the online publication now will be available in print in ten different communities. The first edition, with 10,000 copies, will have 24 pages with reports of collaborators from the favelas of Kelson, Boréu, Formiga, Cantagalo, Pavão/Pavãozinho, Cidade de Deus, Fumacê, Vila Kennedy, Penha, and the Complexo do Alemão.
One of the founders of the newspaper, Renê Silva, said the novelty is that it will bring information from many communities at the same time. “We are creating content in every favela. In each community there is a correspondent who helps us think about the guidelines, what they will have.” he told a government news agency.
Rane Souza, a Brazilian living in Rio shared her excitement for Voz das Comunidades. “I have followed them for four years now. So exciting to hear they’re about to launch their first print edition. That’s great because more people from the favelas will read a narrative on Brazilian reality from journalists who share a mindset closer to their own.”
British expatriate in Rio, Jody King, who recently opened the NGO Favela Phoenix language school in Rocinha over a year ago shares, “It is both very exciting and important to receive news within our communities as outside media sources can be very biased if in fact they even report on anything at all.”
He adds, “I have noticed during my four years living in favelas that events or incidents occur within that get completely ignored by the media. Then when they do report, it is only ever on the negatives. […] I for one love reading about the good news coming out of [Rocinha] and indeed the other communities of Rio.”
Funding for the print costs will come from local merchant ads, but the team is seeking outside sponsors in advertising agencies. The first edition will be supported by the Brazilian Service of Support to Micro and Small Enterprises (SEBRAE).
In December 2011, the Brazilian Statistics Bureau IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatistica) released the findings from its 2010 census which state that 22.03 percent of the 6,323,037 residents of Rio de Janeiro live in favelas.