Favelas in Birmingham?

bpostClaims that a Birmingham suburb was turning into a “favela” hit the headlines of two  local newspapers in the West Midlands.

Rio On Watch’s website published a response to the article, criticising politicians who made the comparison and journalists for publicising “comments that perpetuate the deeply damaging favela stigma”.

So the Birmingham Post wanted to know what I think about the matter. Some of my quotes were published on this Thursday edition (print, as picture on the left, and online), and that’s the core of I had written to the editor.

Here’s the full article by me – as I explain on it, I’m not from a favela, but journo friends who cover and/or had covered those communities in Rio helped me in trying to pass an accurate view of the reality:


To the eyes of a Brazilian, the differences between Selly Oak and favelas are as big as the Atlantic Ocean.

The difficulties in those areas of Rio go beyond peeling paint and mildewed curtains (including limited water supply to some parts and the persistent stigma of having their place likened to litter, crammed spaces and violence).

However, some of these communities have evolved over the years to the extent that they might have “the potential to contribute to a sustainable model of future urban development”, as Rio On Watch’s website says. That’s controversial.

I am a journalist from Brazil, who has lived in south Birmingham for most of my time in the UK. I’m not from a favela, but I do keep in touch with colleagues who work actively in these communities in Rio. According to them, several of these places are models of organization and life in society.

In this point of view, the affirmation that Birmingham would be “lucky” in having the first favela in Britain could make sense. Historically with limited financial resources and the governments’ help, the spirit of cooperation developed among their residents is natural and inspiring.

People are not ashamed to say they live in one of the 1,000 favelas in Rio. Moreover, in the last five years, they became proud in saying so, due to the international interest over these communities.

The negative connotation of the term was applied in the comparison between Selly Oak and favelas as a way of gaining attention, more than actually reflecting on the reality faced in that part of Birmingham. That did not go well either among some fellow expats who live here (including a Brazilian student based in Selly Oak). They support the comments made on Rio On Watch’s website.

It was not by chance that the claim was made after Brazil being extensively broadcasted for Britain during the World Cup. It’s a shame that that was the impression left of my country by the coverage of the British media. We are much more than this, Brummies.

Plus, litter strewn is not an exclusive problem of Selly Oak, unfortunately – some favelas in Rio might be cleaner, thanks to the pride their residents take in the place.

Different parts of Birmingham suffer with the same plague. I wish the city council could do a more efficient job in cleaning the suburbs, raising awareness among the community about the issue or whatever the reason of such negligence might be. I pay taxes, by the way.

In my opinion, no part of Birmingham has the potential to be a favela. If it does, I hope it could be with the strong sense of community and support typical among its residents.”


Vigil for Malala, Birmingham (UK), 20th October, 2012 - Photo: Melissa Becker

Vigil for Malala

Zero Hora, 26th October, 2012

Zero Hora, 26th October, 2012

Cidade britânica vive agitação pelo caso da jovem Malala

> Detalhe ZH

Matéria para o jornal Zero Hora, publicada na edição de 26 de outubro de 2012, sobre a menina paquistanesa Malala Yousafzai, 15 anos. Alvejada pelo Talibã em seu país, por fazer campanha pela educação de meninas, ela está em tratamento no Queen Elizabeth Hospital, em Birmingham (UK). Fotos neste post da vigília organizada pelo grupo Women’s Networking Hub no centro da cidade, na noite de sábado.

[ Feature for the Brazilian newspaper Zero Hora, published on 26th October, 2012, about the Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai, 15 years old. After being shot by the Taliban in her country, for campaigning for girls’ education, she is in treatment in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Birmingham (UK). Photos on this post of the vigil organised by the Women’s Networking Hub in the city centre, last Saturday night ]

Vigil for Malala, Birmingham (UK), 20th October, 2012 - Photo: Melissa Becker

Vigil for Malala, Birmingham (UK), 20th October, 2012 - Photo: Melissa Becker

Squel Stein (left) and Priscilla Carnaval in front of the NIA (published on Terra on 25th May, 2012) - Photos: Melissa Becker

Campeonato Mundial de BMX em Birmingham

Dia 1 > Brasil luta por primeira participação do bicicross em Olimpíada

Dia 2 > Com beleza e tatuagem, brasileiras chamam atenção no bicicross + Galeria de fotos

Dia 3 > Inspirado em Cielo e Senna, ídolo do bicicross quer popularização

Dia 4 > Brasileiros vencem pista técnica por vaga olímpica no BMX + Galeria de fotos

Cobertura do Campeonato Mundial de BMX, em Birmingham, publicada no Terra entre 24-27 de maio de 2012. Com os resultados na competição, Renato Rezende e Squel Stein se classificaram para Londres 2012. Será a primeira vez que o bicicross brasileiro participa de uma Olimpíada.

[ Coverage of the BMX World Championship, in Birmingham, published on Terra, from 24th to 27th May, 2012. By the results achieved during the competition, Brazilian athletes Renato Rezende and Squel Stein were qualified for London 2012. It will be the first time that the Brazilian BMX will take part of the Olympics games]

Squel Stein (left) and Priscilla Carnaval in front of the NIA (published on Terra on 25th May, 2012) - Photos: Melissa Becker

Squel Stein (number 108, qualified for the next Olympics games) and Priscilla Carnaval in front of the NIA, in Birmingham (published on Terra on 25th May, 2012) – Photos: Melissa Becker

Renato Rezende, top on South American ranking, is qualified for the Olympics

Renato Rezende, top on South American ranking, is qualified for the Olympics

Torcedores de Oma e Senegal na frente do City of Coventry Stadium - Foto: Melissa Becker

Evento-teste do futebol para Londres 2012 em Coventry

> Última vaga do futebol reúne asiáticos e africanos em Coventry

> Falta de público prejudica evento-teste em Estádio de Coventry

> Fãs de futebol em Coventry estão ansiosos para ver o Brasil jogar

> Galeria de fotos / Photo gallery (a partir da foto 7 / from picture number 7)

Matérias sobre o evento-teste do futebol para as Olimpíadas. A partida Senegal 2 x 0 Omã definiu o último  classificado para  Londres 2012 no futebol masculino.

[ Feature about the fooball test event for the Olympics games. Senegal 2 x Oman definied the last qualified for the men’s football in London 2012]

99 days to go - Photo: Melissa Becker

99 days to go

I am some days late to post it now – but I like this photo anyway.

I couldn’t be in London when the 100 days to go for the Olympics games was celebrated, but voila: I was there one day later. By coincidence, to be honest. And that cloud, ah, it was there only at 99 days, 7 hours, 48 minuts and 7 seconds to go. British weather!

Estatísticas globais de pena de morte

> EUA falham em diminuir aplicação de pena de morte, diz AI

> Futuro da pena de morte em países que mudaram governo é incerto

Matérias com análises sobre pontos do relatório anual sobre sentenças de morte e execuções em 2011 da Anistia Internacional (AI), publicadas no Terra em 27 de marco de 2012. Serviram de apoio ao material principal publicado pelo site naquele dia, no lançamento mundial do documento (confira o infográfico e a matéria principal).

Um dos tópicos sobre o qual escrevi foi a execução por crimes cometidos antes dos 18 anos. Interessante como o Guardian cobriu o assunto: com uma animação.

[ Articles with analyses about topics from the Amnesty International’s sentences of death and executions 2011, published on Terra on 27th March, 2012. They complement the main feature published on the news website on the day when the annual review was published worldwide (check out the info graphic and main article).

One of the topics I wrote about was the juvenile executions. Interesting to see how The Guardian covered the issue: with an animation. ]

Introduction to Sports Journalism Workshop

On 3rd February, I watched a lesson at the News Associates, in London. The one-day Introduction to Sports Journalism Workshop is run by reporters from its affiliated press agency, Sportsbeat.

I can say I’m a fairly experienced journalist: I was graduated 10 years ago (wow, time flies!), after a four-year course in (what is told as) one of the best universities in the field in Brazil. I started to work in a big newsroom before my graduation and held different positions there for 10 years. Now, I’m most of the type to be classified as versatile than an expert in one field (my longest experience in one sector was as a editor and city reporter for three years, what is a very diverse area), and that’s quite useful to work as a correspondent, for example.

So why would I enrol to a one-day introduction lesson?

MANY reasons:

– I wrote a single sport story in my life (until now!);

Olympics are going to be host first by this country and then by my country in 2016 (with a World Cup there before it!);

– Let’s say 99% of my experience within the media industry was based on and even now is still related to Brazil;

– I wanted to test and challenge myself;

– As I’m starting a new chapter in my career, I have a lot to learn.

(Indeed, English first of all, and I’m already working on it – so, please, give me some time and bear with me for now!)

* * *

*** Attention: there’re more courses over next months (oh, and it’s FREE, another reason I joined it, he). So if you’d like to take part in it and like to be surprised, don’t read this part ***

The lesson started with some comparisons among newspapers and their sports stories of the day. I was lucky to have Cynthia Vanzella by my side (we were colleagues in my hometown), so I was not the only alien there! We formed a trio with a lovely classmate of whom I forgot the name (shame!), but can’t forget her story: she’s a midwife who always wanted to be a sports journalist. The paper on our hands was The Guardian (so far, so good).

Next step was a quiz: a very good resource to point out one important detail journalists should know (can’t say more, sorry). Then Jack Travers, our instructor, talked about how to write: accuracy, 6Ws, structure etc, the basic rules for all journalist, plus a sporty touch in it.

In the afternoon, the challenge: we have to write a match report, while watching the game, as it happens in real life. I knew my colleagues at Zero Hora wrote their articles during the games, no time to finish after that, but I’ve never done this in Portuguese. And then, there I was, trying to do in English… The good news is that I got good tips about how to do it (something nobody explained to me before), and now I can do it (in Portuguese). Next was a press conference, again another story we should write in a short deadline. I got the feedback about my articles some days later.

* * *

For me, the lesson was not only an introduction to Sport Journalism, but also an introduction to journalism in the UK and its training. For example, I learnt that short writing is essential for a journalist in the UK. In Brazil, it’s not. That’s reaffirmed I should go back to basics in England. Wish me luck!