One year weaving webs for Argentinian communications activists
MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY, 26 November 2003
On October 19th, APC member in Rosario, Argentina celebrated the first anniversary of the launch of their community information portal Enredando. "Enredando" means "I'm part of a network" as well as "weaving a web". In addition, TAU has recently been honoured by their city government - their networking and ICT activities have been declared 'of municipal interest' in an official decree! APCNews covered Enredando's launch last year and we spoke to coordinator, Luis “Pipo” Martinez about how Enredando has evolved since 2002.
APC: How has Enredando advanced its activities since it began in 2002? In other words, what groups have made the most use of the tools (the website, the bulletin, etc.) and appropriated them to facilitate their activities? How are they using them?
Luis Martinez, TAU: Social organizations in general, on a wider scale than we had originally imagined, are participants in Enredando. At first we had to seek contact information for them, but as we became known (through presentations in different fora, meetings, or also through people forwarding our bulletins on), the news began trickling in until it’s really flooding in now. Insofar as the appropriation of the tools is concerned, email is the star element in terms of communication, which obviously requires a great deal of attention and processing.
The (online) agenda has been the most popular tool in terms of its use without our intervention and the press in general consults it a great deal. One of our biggest successes is that we are a good place to announce different types of events. An anecdote: last year we accompanied Beto Deppeler to a meeting on support for the Argentinean Ministry’s projects, which the Salesian projects office in Rosario had asked we disseminate. We had given the meeting a prominent position in the bulletin. There were approximately 80 people at the reunion. At the end, we were surprised when the organizers publicly thanked enREDando because the majority of the attendees had found out about the event through the bulletin. Our usefulness to regional organizations is a key factor for us. We had a similar experience recently with another presentation.
APC: What are the main lessons learned?
One of the lessons learned is that there are no electronic networks, rather there are human networks. Keeping this in mind ensures that information will reflect the needs of the groups and people that we gradually meet face to face and that electronic tools contribute to the deepening of their relationships among each other. Another thing we learned is that not all people or groups are willing or able to write and describe what they do. There is still much to inform and communicate within the sphere of each organization. Due to this, we feel that we cannot abandon our journalistic work, an exclusive portal whose content is exclusively published by the organizations will never exist. You have stimulate, train, seek out and highlight good stories, “best practices.”
APC: We found out that TAU’s activities were declared to be of municipal interest. How did this come about?
Some of the members of the City Council support our activities. The city council requested a report detailing what we do and it resulted in this declaration, which honours us and also commits us to working for our city’s common good.
APC: So, what plans exist for the future for Enredando?
The plans are basically the original ones that intensify the quantity and quality of the content. We are evaluating the possibility of having a free speech area similar to the RITS Citizenship website [el portal de la Ciudadanía de RITS], of whose positive results we are aware. We are also elaborating a project involving a cooperation forum, which would provide a space for the exchange of data between organizations regarding the obtainment of resources to that will contribute to the institutional strengthening of their projects. Generally, the best information in this sense is obtained through person-to-person encounters, thus generating trust networks. We want to develop this via a dedicated place on the site.
APC: In 2002, APC reported: “"In our city, the newspapers, the radio stations and the local TV channels are all in the hands of the business sector and they make sure that the coverage reflects their own interests. We hope that "Enredando" will join the other alternative media that are emerging to provide a space for information that is generated by the people who never get to appear in the pages of the local newspapers or on the evening news," say the directors of TAU, the APC member that recently launched an alternative information portal for civil society groups fighting poverty and corruption in Rosario.” (http://www.apc.org/english/news/index.shtml?x=7837 )
How are things progressing?
As you noted previously, the situation involving the independence of media in our city is worrisome. We are hours away from the definitive declaration of bankruptcy of the El Ciudadano newspaper, where our colleague Manolo Robles, author of the reports and articles featured on the site, is employed. There is a large business group linked to the worst of business politics (some very spurious) that continues to control the mass media in our city. So, at this time, we are working together with the newspaper’s employees and other media channels to combat the difficulties they face each day in their work.