A Cara de Porto Alegre (Faces of Porto Alegre)

Posted: April 29, 2011 by Maria Acle in Uncategorized

Porto Alegre is the tenth most populous municipality in Brazil, with almost 1.5 million inhabitants. It is the capital city of the southernmost Brazilian state, Rio Grande do Sul. The city’s name literally means ‘Happy Harbour’ in English and it is known for its rich and colorful culture.

Porto Alegre is one of the top cultural, political and economic centers of Brazil. With the city being one of the wealthiest in Latin America, it has a very high quality of life. However, while it is not as bad as many other cities in Latin America, the wealth distribution is very unequal. This is one big problem when it comes to delivering any kind of information.

The beautiful Porto Alegre is big and diverse, but its traditional roots are still intact. These bring the people together no matter what. Soccer, chimarrao (a strong, hot tea prepared from erva mate), and the gorgeous Guaiba lake are only some of the trademarks of the city.

The south of Brazil is known for its immigrant population, and the same is very influenced by Uruguay and Argentina, which border the state. However, what hasn’t been seen so far in Porto Alegre, when it comes to news, is an online source that shows little, interesting stories of everyday people. As it is a big city, there is very little investment in things like this. However, Internet usage is huge in Porto Alegre, so anything done online will be a hit.

Design and Content

I want this website to be full of life and animation, and it will be a soft and hard news website. The first thing that will be spotted on the home page will be this big space for a video. One can roll back and forward through the videos to chose different stories of everyday people. Each video will show them telling their life story and then, it is up to them to show us what is most important for them in their lives. They can only use and show one thing, so that in the end these stories are somehow themed. The news team will have two or three people in charge of this part of the website.

If you scroll down, you would start to see all the local news, which would include sections such as news, weather, sports, business, arts and entertainment, beauty tips and gossip. It might sound strange, but if you want to lure any Brazilian into anything, there has to be some gossip and fashion involved. Yet, the only things that you could start reading on the homepage would be the news and the sports. The rest, one would have to click and it would redirect you to another page. Visitors’ comments would not be seen on the home page. I would want the design of the website to be very clean, but at the same time warm and welcoming.

On a the right top corner I want to add a little box where people can leave their thoughts on to what they want from the website. This way, it always stays interactive, and it keeps journalists in contact with the audience.

On the right side there will be a Twitter column, where people Tweeting anything about the website would appear on that live column. Bellow it, there will be a live box giving the reader constant updates on the city’s traffic. Porto Alegre is known for its heavy traffic, so a live news feed on what is happening is necessary. The box will give the audience the option of opening up an interactive map that points out areas where the traffic is bad.

On the left, there would be a column outlining the structure of the website. I would add a section called “Specials” where stories from free lancers around town would appear. Below it, there would be a box called something like “The place to be” and people could leave messages of the newest spots in town, or different events that are going on.

When clicking on a story, you are directed into another page. This page contains pictures and videos (if there are any) with the most information possible on the subject. Just like BBC does with their stories: they give context as you scroll down. I think this is the most important part of any news outlet. Since part of journalism is to educate, it is vital to give the background and history to every story. One cannot expect everyone to know everything about each story, and the more information given to the audience the better. People would have to click on a link in order to view the comments written by the readers.

Moreover, there would be a mobile version of the website (not including the personal videos) and an iPad version as well. The iPad version would be exactly like the website, except for some minor details on the way people will scroll through the stories. In Porto Alegre, people are very technologically savvy, so the iPad version would definitely work. This version will be easier to read through and the design will be bright and clean as well.

Goals and Obstacles

The goals of this website would be to integrate the different aspects of the Porto Alegre community into one single website. The audience wants to know what is happening around them, but they also want to be entertained. The small clips of people will definitely draw people’s attention to the website because it is something different and it makes them feel comfrotable. Moreover, I think that a website this interactive and rich in information reflects the community in itself. In a city where so much is going on, it is necessary that the journalists and the audience are communicating back and forward.

However, while the city is united by its traditions, it is still very divided in classes. Favelas (slums) can still be seen within the city, and reaching this poorer part of society will be the greatest challenge. According to statistics, Porto Alegre has the third lowest percentage of poverty in the country. Nevertheless it exists, and this issue is a hard one to tackle. As a way of trying to overcome this, the website will be advertised around the city, outside the online world. As there will not be a print version of it, it will be hard for these people to know of it. Yet, the website can be advertised in the city’s newspapers.

The website will be very young, but at the same time informative, so it will be appropriate for every age group.

Another issues with the website is the number of people accessing and being active in the website. Before launching it, I think it would be very important to have a pool of people already willing to give their imput in the website, that is commenting below stories, using the different interactive boxes, Tweeting and Facebooking about it, etc. This will make the website active from the very start.

Finances

In Brazil, ads in websites work. A research showed that ads in the country have an impact, even if the person does not click on them. Moreover, the most effective ads are videos, and in average they are watched for 70 seconds. Therefore, the website will be mostly funded by local ads.

Also, the website will be funded by foundation grants and the public’s donations. With the iPad, the user will not be able to access all of the information, unless you pay a subscription. The future is in the iPad and I do believe people would start paying a small fee for having the full content of the app.

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