The border town of Ciudad Juarez may be
best known for its problems, but that’s not the only story in town.
A new project gathers citizen reports of everyday heroes in an effort
to present a more balanced picture of life there.
Launched last December, "Cronicas
de Heroes" or “Juarez Hero
Reports” doesn’t report news in the conventional sense of the
term. You won’t find stories about the weather, the government or
sports. Instead, “Cronicas de Heroes” seeks to cover stories
about ordinary people committing random acts of kindness, bravery and
care. For “Cronicas,” important news is a report about neighbors
transporting a woman having a heart attack to the nearest hospital.
Another is about a nanny who foiled a kidnap attempt. The project
abounds with stories about strangers helping people change flat tires
or chipping in at the checkout line to help someone buy groceries.
Yesica Guerra, Director of “Cronicas
De Heroes”, believes highlighting the positive happenings in Juarez
and the people responsible for them is more than just a feel-good
exercise. “I grew up in Chihuahua and still have family there.
While the violence the world media portrays is of course there, there
are many positive things also that need mentioning”, says Guerra.
In the seven months since it debuted,
the project has reported more than 1,000 stories on its website. All
reported by regular citizens. Some of the stories are submitted
through the “Cronicas” website. But the project’s organizers
make sure that people without access to the internet also have the
opportunity to contribute. They hold in-person meetings where people
can write down their stories on postcards, which are later published
Guerra edits and fact-checks every
submission. As a safety measure, the site does not identify authors.
The stories are published without attribution and lacking any details
that might put people at risk. "Everything on the site is in
Spanish and anonymous", says Guerra. She emphasizes that they are
careful about not putting the hero mantle on anyone. "People help
because they want to. Anonymity helps not making heroes out of
One of the biggest challenges the
project faces, according to Guerra, is the limited internet access in
Mexico. While the website’s traffic is growing, sometimes as high
as 300 visits per week, the project’s target audience includes many
who can’t visit the website.
From a web-based initiative, the
project has grown to include activities that involve the public at a
very intimate level, with people encouraged to share stories in
person. "Cronicas" is employing creative strategies to reach its "offline” audience and build participation in the project. A
group of urban street artists paint murals based on stories "Cronicas" publishes. One of these murals was painted as a
community event, which helped spread the word about the project.
Mainstream print newspapers and journals have begun publishing
stories from “Cronicas.” The “Cronicas” team has also been
invited to read their stories on radio.
(Source: AudienceScapes)Full Story