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FOPEA moves towards increasing diversity in Argentine media

Innovative youth outreach provides training and internships to aspiring journalists from under-represented communities
Journalists in conference room
Person presenting in conference room

Expanding opportunities — and representation — in the media

FOPEA (Foro de Periodismo Argentino, or Argentine Journalism Forum) is no stranger to working with young aspiring journalists and preparing them for a successful future in media. However, the organization has traditionally had trouble reaching youth from more diverse and often under-represented backgrounds. So ex-FOPEA president, Fernando Ruiz, reached out to communications professor and FOPEA member María José Muller in 2021 with an idea to build an outreach program. The goal would be to help young journalists from what are known as “barrios populares” have access to the same resources as those from more affluent areas. +Miradas, or “More Voices,” would arm these youth with access to professional training and opportunities.

Muller wanted to build a project team that was made up of young professionals like the ones it would serve. She reached out to Celina Díaz Melo, from the suburbs of Buenos Aires, and Fernando Maldonado, from Buenos Aires’s Villa 21-24, a neighborhood where homes don’t have legal addresses and opportunities to thrive beyond the every-day struggle are limited. Having these young journalists on the project would ensure that those recruited to join +Miradas could see themselves in the program and believe in its mission.

“We found a lot of young people with potential who really wanted to study but didn’t have the opportunity or contacts to access a university,” Maldonado says. “There are many talented young people that can greatly benefit from this program.” The first cohort of 20 participants ran in 2022.

Visiting Google and seeing all of their storytelling tools has been life-changing for our participants. They have a new sense of belonging, of ‘I can!’ That’s the power of partnering with Google.

Partnering with GNI to change the narrative

Muller points out that the media often stigmatizes vulnerable communities. “The media only shows the crime, the violence, and the drugs. But the good outweighs the bad. And these young people feel the weight of that. Where are the stories of the families with good values? Where are the stories of people in these areas who have dreams and ambitions and want to study?”

“One of our main goals with +Miradas is to show these kids that they can actively bring change to the media,” Muller continues. “They can be the ones to talk about their realities, to bring those much-needed stories to the forefront. And they should be proud of that. Besides, they can amplify our vision or ideas about the world too, through their vision, their insights.”

Partnering with Google News Initiative in 2022 has offered financial support for +Miradas, and has helped increase the reach and opportunities for their participants. “Google is not only interested in the training part, but also in helping the students gain experience and applying what they learn to the medium,” Muller says. A visit to Google’s office in Buenos Aires made a huge impact on participants. It not only exposed them to something new, but gave them a green light to dream big and a sense that their stories matter.

20 students trained in 3 months
5 program participants placed in internships with prominent Argentine media

A more inclusive future for Argentine media

Initially concerned about how many students in the first cohort would complete the program, Muller was thrilled to see 18 of the 20 participants graduate. Several of them have already begun hands-on training with major media companies in Argentina like La Nación which students also visited as part of their program. The +Miradas team keeps in touch with participants and closely supports each one in their professional development.

While FOPEA has played a critical role in improving the quality of journalism and freedom of expression in Argentina for over 20 years, the +Miradas outreach is their first concerted effort to reach and train young journalists from working-class and vulnerable neighborhoods. Muller believes FOPEA has been vastly enriched by +Miradas and its diversity of perspectives — and they’re just getting started. FOPEA’s new president, Paula Moreno, sees the potential, passion, and commitment of these young professionals and intends to continue expanding this outreach program across the country.

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