Saturday, December 05, 2009

Slum residents combat negative media stories

Residents of one of the slums that surround the city of Buenos Aires got tired of how media only portrayed the bad of their lives. So they decided to combat the image with some media of their own.

Villa 1-11-14 produces their own magazine called Desde Adentro (From the Inside). The magazine contains articles about social services that are available to the residents. It also combats recent mainstream media stories of the village to give readers a perspective from the inside.

From the IPS, writer Marcela Valente describes this inventive media offering.

One of the magazine's sections is "El escrache" - "The Outing", a term coined for protests in which groups of hecklers go to the homes of people accused of human rights abuses and loudly denounce them.

"El escrache" chooses a news item or specific coverage by the media, and provides a response "from the inside."

One of the issues denounced journalist Facundo Pastor from the América TV station, which won a "best investigative report" prize at the prestigious New York Festivals for a report on Villa 1-11-14 titled "La favela argentina".

In the documentary, whose title refers to Brazil's "favelas" or shantytowns, Pastor lamented that this Buenos Aires slum lacks the picturesque hills, ocean view and "garotas" (young women) of Brazil's favelas, described Villa 1-11-14 as bleak, and said that to play a football game with a group of local kids, he had to put on a bullet-proof vest.

The journalist also said he agreed to the match to "break down the mistrust of the little narco-soldiers."

In "Desde Adentro", while local residents acknowledged that there are problems and difficulties among the most marginalised people in the neighbourhood, they complained about and refuted Pastor's discriminatory statements.

"Not everything here is peachy, but it's not that bad either," Alejandro Devita, another local involved in producing "Desde Adentro" told IPS. "We know better than anyone else about the bad parts, we don't ignore them. But the magazine can be an instrument to show other aspects, and to help people understand us better."

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