Interview fellowships mapping dataviz Meet Gustavo Faleiros

Profiles of Knight International Journalism Fellows

In the second of our Knight International Journalism Fellow profiles, Gustavo Faleiros talks about his upcoming projects.

Faleiros is an environmental journalist and media trainer from Brazil specializing in data journalism. He created InfoAmazonia.org, an online map that layers open data to track deforestation across a nine-country Amazonian region, and is also the founder of the São Paulo Hacks/Hackers chapter. During his fellowship, he will develop a news lab to create technology that enhances environmental reporting, and conduct workshops and training on the new data and geo-journalism toolkit he’s building.

Charting the Fellowship

Q. How did you decide on the projects you’re working on during the fellowship?

In the new round of fellowships, a lot of emphasis was placed on the objective of creating a culture of innovation in Latin America. It was a process of debating what are the most effective ways to experiment and innovate with partner organizations. I proposed a news lab to offer a way of producing, experimenting with, and distributing media innovation.

Plans for the Fellowship

Q. Could you give us a behind-the-scenes tour of the project? We would love to hear how you’re building applications and tools, what code you’re using (when applicable), how you’re educating others, etc.

Yeah, let’s go. The news lab will be dedicated to producing apps and tools for environmental coverage—this is an evolution of the work we have been doing for a year now on InfoAmazonia.org. On that project, we realized that there was a potential to create and replicate new tools that would not only increase our project’s audience, but also enable other media organizations and civil society projects to communicate better.

Concretely, over the year we will create five new sub-projects within the lab structure. Very briefly, they are:

  • A geo-journalism toolkit
  • A Citizen Desk for InfoAmazonia
  • A database for Investigative Journalism on the Environment in Brazil
  • A channel of geotagged content produced by cities’ reporters
  • A multimedia storytelling platform to tell stories about rivers in the Amazon.

Q. The geo-journalism toolkit sounds really interesting—what will that include?

The geo-journalism toolkit will have a couple of chapters on covering environment with digital tools and devices. We will include information on working with georeferenced data, geo data formats in general, how to manipulate Shapefiles, KML, all those kinds of files. And if you are covering forests, for example, you might want to use satellite imagery, so we would explain where to get it, how to manipulate it, and so on. A lot on digital mapping and crowdsourcing with mobiles, SMS, how to design maps with the usual suspects, using Google Maps/Earth, geocommons, etc.

I am not sure we’ll have anything very nerdy on it—I think we will need something how to organize teams and workflow, what kind of professionals and processes need to happen to create a tool like INfoAmazonia for example, or to create apps to monitor forest fire, air pollution, and other environmental issues.

Q. What challenges are you facing?

I guess the biggest challenge is to position ourselves not only as a content producer, but also as a project manager. Sometimes this also includes fundraising for each one of the initiatives. It’s challenging to see the full process in front of you and think about all the steps that are still missing. At the same time, it is a great opportunity.

Looking ahead

Q. What will success look like for this work?

Success for me will be really experimenting with new forms of reaching the public and going beyond the usual big-media definitions of “impact.” This lab, this partnership with Knight and ICFJ gives us the chance of creating very impactful things, we want to be noticed and seen as a useful model in Latin America.

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