La Pública, journalism from the people

May 20, 2014

Where can the voice of the citizen be heard? In the parliament? In the mainstream media? Where is it that the citizen can exercise the right to express his/her opinion about democracy and its institutions?

La Pública is an innovative digital platform supported by Hivos that seeks to strengthen the exercise of citizenship and help create more active and pluralist public spaces. Making use of journalism, new technologies and activism in all its forms, La Pública provides a platform for investigative journalism and citizen participation.

La Pública is an initiative of Bolivian journalists and Internet activists who pooled their experiences to push the boundaries of traditional journalism and get involved in public debates.

Upon entering La Pública’s website it is clear that the citizen’s voice is leading. In real time, a dialogue box shows what people are saying on social networks, especially about subjects like human rights, transparency and accountability.

La Pública’s journalism takes the pulse of the citizen’s voice within social networks and beyond to spark debate on matters of public interest, exploring themes not covered by mainstream media and putting them on the public agenda. One of its first ventures in this direction was the mapping of cyber activists’ movements in Bolivia.

La Pública organizes monthly debates where a topic will be discussed between citizens, state officials and NGOs involved in the subject. Two debates have taken place already.

This year La Pública will be launch a pilot fund in Bolivia to develop web applications oriented toward social control of government institutions. The idea is to develop applications like Poderopedia (Chile) or Tu derecho a saber (Spain).

La Pública takes a stand on issues that focus on defending individual and collective rights. Even before the website was officially launched, citizen’s movements were driven from the Facebook group of La Pública. The first one was Todos con Al-zar, a movement born in defense of a Bolivian cartoonist who was censured and threatened by unions and public officials because of his work. What started on Facebook ended in the publication of a book with illustrations by artists who sympathized with the author.

The second was the #RechazoALosPercyMoscas movement, born as a network protest against a Bolivian mayor who committed an act of sexual harassment against a Bolivian reporter.

Hivos South America was involved in the creation of La Pública and funds this initiative in the belief that it will contribute to an open and more democratic society in the long run.