“To have arrived at refugee centers and spoken without any filter, face to face with immigrants, hearing that there are children [and] pregnant women who have to leave their country because they are being killed; that was the hardest thing I had to live through.”
The journalist and Editor of The Voice of Guanacaste, Roberto Acuña Avalos, traveled to Rome, along with 80 other media professionals, to participate in The 19 Million Project.
During the first weeks of November, journalists, programmers, designers, documentarians and human rights specialists joined forces to develop stories regarding the refugee situation in Europe.
The 19 Million Project was sponsored by the Italian Human Rights Coalition, the TV channel Univision, media outlet Fusion and the NGO ChicasPoderosas. It was also supported by Google Lab, BBC Labs and the TheNieman Foundation at Harvard.
The event lasted from November 2-13, during whichparticipantslearned about the situation ofrefugees arriving in Europe, fleeingwars that are happening in their home countries.
During visits to the centers, Acuña spoke with several immigrants. “There I realized that what journalists tell us is not the same as what an actual immigrant says.”
The team with which Acuña worked decided to present the project “Moving Voices.”
“The project is to create a network in which immigrants have the chance to tell their stories without political or editorial filters; the immigrants are also going to receive a mentoring project, as we are going to be allied with journalism organizations so that they can have a guide to how to tell their story, so that they can be good and thus be used in the media,” explained Acuña.
On the platform, immigrants will also have the chance to interview other immigrants, a politician or anyone they think would have an important story to tell.
“The main goal for the platform is to generate empathy with the European population, because during the investigation we realized that traditional media outlets are focusing on data, statistics, politics and they forget about individual stories, about the real stories,” said Acuña.
Participants in Moving Voices include Portuguese programmer Jose Noguiera, Columbian producer Mayra Baez Jimeno(A-JPlus), Italian journalist DamianoUsala, Argentinian graphic designer Andres Snitcofsky, Mexican Ulysses De La Torre (Nova), Chloe Anna Harman (Open Society Foundation), from England, and the Columbian journalist Teresita Goyeneche P (Fundacion Gabriel Garcia Marquez).
Acuña’s team wasn’t the only one to win the Media Innovation Award. Proposals from two other teams were also selected, who won the project’s grand prize: $5,000 and a trip to Vienna, Austria, to receive their award in June of 2016.
The Editor in Chief of The Voice of Guanacaste, Emiliana Garcia, was also invited to The 19 Million Project and participated with the proposal “Refug-Aid,” offering a digital platform for communication and help among refugee centers in Europe, as well as offering a platform for offering and requesting volunteers.
Funds from the prize will be used to develop the three winning projects and implement them in Europe.
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