In Brazil, journalists overcome economic crisis with entrepreneurship

by Núria Saldanha
Oct 30, 2018 in Media Sustainability

With an economic crisis that has put millions out of work, Brazilian journalists are rethinking the ways in which they can sustain themselves. They discovered they can best work together training each other and investing in their own businesses.

Brazil’s journalism industry has been shaken by the emergence of digital media and the economic recession. Newspapers, magazines and even TV news shows are not the main source of information in Brazil anymore, and media groups are struggling to pivot their revenue streams. The result is a layoff wave at many news organizations.

Since 2012, more than 5,700 layoffs were registered among major media companies in the country’s major cities. According to Volt Data, a data journalism project founded by ICFJ participant Sergio Spagnuolo, 49 percent of them worked for the print media. But in truth, this number might be much higher since informal jobs are very common in the field.  

With insecure environments inside newsrooms, where reporters and editors are always afraid of being the next to be fired, journalists are finding support in each other.

“We can’t rely on newsrooms anymore. There is no room for everybody there,” says Malu Fernandes, journalist and ambassador of “Reinventar Jornalistas RJ” network.

Reinventar Jornalistas RJ, created in 2015 by a group of media professionals from Rio de Janeiro, wants to foster an entrepreneurial environment for journalists. In partnership with ABI (Associação Brasileira de Imprensa), the group hosts free workshops every other week and just completed its 17th round of trainings that range from video journalism to social media tools.

The audience is mainly composed of mid-career and senior journalists who have worked for 10 to 30 years in newsrooms and now need to learn other skills and adapt themselves to the new reality of the media industry.

"We now understand that we don’t have to be locked in a single field and we need to stop saying ‘I only know how to write or edit,’” says Magalhães. “There are so many things we can do and we are reinventing ourselves."

As an independent journalist, Breno Costa has been venturing into the entrepreneurial world for several years since leaving a more traditional print newsroom environment behind. First he created a longform journalism business called Brio with a business model that relied on a payment per-piece model. The startup never took off and he decided to help journalists who, like him, are not working for mainstream media companies anymore. In September 2016, he launched Brio Hunter, a service that evaluates journalists’ skills, offers trainings and aims to reinsert reporters into the market.

For less than US$20 a month, journalists can test their skills online.

“We offer reports on the professionals strengths and weaknesses and offer courses to improve their skills inside the platform,” says Costa. “From webinars to written manuals and guides.” After the trainings, journalists can do the tests again and according to the new scores, they will be recommended by Brio Hunter for open positions in the market.

Correction: The original version of this story contained the wrong link to Malu Fernandes' LinkedIn profile. This link has been corrected to avoid any confusion.

Main image CC-licensed by Flickr via Ed Schipul.