Empowering women at the intersection of journalism and technology

by Mariana Santos
Oct 30, 2018 in Miscellaneous

Working in newsrooms with a multidisciplinary team of developers, journalists and designers became my everyday life when I was part of the Guardian Interactive team over the last three years.

This began with my former boss, Alastair Dant, who had the vision not only to start the Guardian Interactive team, but who recognized the need to place a woman in a key position on his team. This changed my life. It gave me the chance to work with a genius and to see that being a woman was actually making a difference in our everyday work environment, as we created news stories using cutting-edge technology and a disruptive attitude towards communication.

This made me want to share this experience with other women. I feel that women, especially in the Latin world, are the first to cut our own wings and prevent ourselves from dreaming big and from believing we can go far in our careers. I am not sure if it is due to humility or a lack of confidence, or maybe even an overdose of high expectations and an obsession with perfection! Our society does enough of that, making it harder for women to get ahead in high-level management and in some technical jobs. I believe we need to be the first ones to believe in ourselves.

That's why I'm launching “Chicas Poderosas” ("Powerful Women") in Latin America as part of my ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellowship. I am calling on the best professionals I've worked with to the same table, so we can share our stories about how we got where we are and how it is possible for any girl to get where she wants as well.

We'll share some tools and processes that are specific to the roles we are talking about: data mining, scraping, development for interactive features, investigative techniques, visual storytelling techniques, and more. However, mainly we aim to gather a group of strangers with different skills in order to work together, embrace change and celebrate the possibility of developing news stories. These stories may be interactive, animated or simple data visualizations, using all the skills taught by the team where the participants learn how to develop a process where everyone contributes to a better product.

The other goal of Chicas Poderosas is to start a network where people can keep in contact, keep developing and keep sharing knowledge.

Chicas Poderosas aims to start a chapter in each Latin American country with representatives who will work as ambassadors spreading knowledge and the philosophy of embracing teamwork, believing in women who can make a change in the technical environment in newsrooms. The idea is to empower women to believe in themselves and to work hard. We want to empower that proactive attitude, entrepreneurial spirit.

We came to the conclusion that the goal of “perfection” is the enemy of “great,” as sometimes being too detail-oriented leads us to not do something at all if we think it is not going to be awesome. I believe sometimes we need to allow ourselves to do something even if it's not perfect. We can say that at least we tried! And if we learn through failure, then we can always launch version 2.0!

This post originally appeared on the Global Voices website and was published on IJNet with permission.

Mariana Santos is a visual storyteller and founder of Chicas Poderosas, which she is developing as a Knight International Journalism Fellow.

Photo courtesy of Mariana Santos.