2023 Shortlist

Rodolfo Almeida

Entry type: Portfolio

Country/area: Brazil

Publishing organisation: The Intercept Brasil, Rede Interação, Revista Piauí, Sumaúma Jornal, Repórter Brasil/Unearthed

Organisation size: Small

Cover letter:

My name is Rodolfo Almeida, I’m a visual journalist, and I have been working at the intersection of journalism, visual narratives and data in Brazil for the last 8 years, and data journalism has shaped my understanding of the world and the ways in which we can act upon it.

My journalism carrer started with an internship working with video stories at Estadão, Brazil’s second biggest newspaper, which introduced me to the power of visual media in telling the stories of our time. This understanding was further developed when I worked at Nexo Jornal, an explanatory journalism outlet, as an infographics reporter. There, I was mentored by amazing professionals such as Simon Ducroquet and Daniel Mariani, and discovered a passion for finding the most simple yet profond visual metaphor for a certain story – a goal I aim at to this day.

With time, the needs of that job shifted from more classic illustrated infographic work to more data visualization and analysis – and I accompanied that shift and began studying statistics, visual perception and languages such as R, visualization tools and concepts. I’m very greatful for the recognition my work has received in the past years from the likes of Malofiej, SND ÑH, Biennale di Venezia and more.

Since then, it’s been a wild ride. I’ve went to work with other outlets and companies and in January 2022 finally decided to give the freelance lifestyle a shot. In the last year I’ve worked on 18 different projects for 15 clients – mostly journalism outlets, collaborating with diverse teams of reporters and data scientists on new and original stories. I’m proud of having worked with publications and institutions such as The Intercept, Greenpeace/Unearthed, Revista Piauí, the Climate and Land Use Alliance, and more.

With an educational background on journalism and no formal education on design, coding or data, I also felt the need to go deeper on my understanding of visual representations of the world and how they can inform our actions and generate impact on our lives. So, in 2021, I started a Master’s degree in Design at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, with orientation by the incredible professor Doris Kosminsky.

My line of research coincided with the subject matter I’ve been devoting most of my attention, worries and work towards: the climate. In Kosminsky’s lab, I’ve been studying how climate phenomena are currently represented in data visualization and looking in areas as diverse as anthropology, design and philosophy for new and different ideas on how to understand and visualize that which is, by nature, invisible. As part of this academic endeavour, I’ve given talks in events such as IEEEVIS and CIDI, and published some of my findings in scientific journals.

I personally believe that journalism is a job deeply connected to everyone and everything that surrounds it and, in that sense, that the scientific research process can play a very important part in furthering our journalistic endeavours and the solutions we provide to problems – it sure has definitely deepened my understanding of the world and my journalistic work.

With this portfolio I’m presenting I hope to showcase a data journalism practice in tune with the problems of our time and oriented towards finding new solutions that are simple to understand, but complex to develop. I’m deeply commited to achieving a greater understanding of the world through journalism and to do meaningful and impactful work, and I’m greatful and appreciative of all the talented colleagues I’ve worked with.

Description of portfolio:

**Additional information from the applicant:**

I’ve submitted seven projects as part of my portfolio. In five of them I’m credited either on the byline, or footer, or below the graphic pieces. They are:

1. Amazon Under Siege (The Intercept Brasil) – cited below graphics
Contributed only with the charts and animated maps. The Intercept’s team had already obtained and pre-analyzed the data. They briefed me on the discussion and invited me to come up with the visualizations.

2. Cities & the Climate (Rede Interação) – cited in footer notes
Contributed with almost every facet of the project. Rede Interação had no expertise in infographics or printed publications. I was called in to both research the content, write it and edit it as well as come up with layout, composition, visualization, and illustrations. The only parts I wasn’t involved in were the translations to other languages, and the workshops with local communities, which were held in person and helped shape the publication.

3. Cattle Laundering (Revista Piauí) – cited in footer notes
Contributed only with static charts, header illustration, video and storytelling ideas. The video was the main piece I worked on. Piauí’s team had already done most of the reporting, but had trouble coming up with an intuitive and engaging way to convey the data they obtained. I suggested a video as a storytelling device and got to work with the editors on a script, motion graphics and sound design. The reporters recorded the narration for the video, and other interesting pieces of information were visualized as static charts.

4. Yanomami under attack (Sumaúma Jornal) – cited in footer notes
Contributed only with static charts, data analysis and animated maps. The Sumaúma team contacted me before visiting the Yanomami territory and asked me to come up with charts detailing the impact on Yanomami women’s health. Soon after, they obtained data from local leadership and I analyzed and wrangled the data and proposed these sets of graphic pieces.

5. Deforestation in the meat business in Brazil (Repórter Brasil/Unearthed) – cited below graphics
Contributed only with static charts and data analysis. The Greenpeace team was working with Repórter Brasil in following the trail of illegal cattle in the Amazon. The bulk of the data work was done by Reporter Brasil’s team, which resulted in a fairly large dataset that needed some analysis in search for relevant aspects to be visualized. That’s where I conducted most of my work.

The other two projects don’t seem to cite my name anywhere. They are:

1. The radicalization of Jovem Pan (Revista Piauí)
Contributed with data analysis, static charts, video research and video editing. The team behind Novelo Data invited me to help them analyze and visualize a large dataset for Revista Piauí. They managed to scrape from YouTube the transcriptions for every episode of Pingos Nos Is, which is Jovem Pan’s most prestiged news show and, with so much data available, had a hard time coming up with insights from it and finding ways to visualize it. I proposed some analysis questions, and got to working with the data. This project was a part of a larger investigation conducted by Revista Piauí on Jovem Pan’s history, with which I had no involvement. The reporting team occasionally requested some topics to be explored on the data side, and I worked on it alongside Novelo’s team. I developed some interactive charts as well which didn’t end up on the final piece due to CMS limitations. Midway through the work we had the idea of producing a video montage. I then sketched out a script with the general ideas, and partially watched 100+ episodes of Pingos Nos Is in search of footage. My involvement with the project can be corroborated by Guilherme Felitti (guilherme@novelo.io), Novelo Data’s founder, and main data scientist on this piece.

2. The Connection (Revista Piauí)
Contributed only with illustrations, static and animated maps and charts. The reporting was already well advanced with Piauí and OCCRP teams following the trail of yellow Ipê. They had obtained a large amount of geographical and transactional data and needed to present it in a compelling way. I went through their dataset trying to reconstruct the routes and visualize them in maps. My involvement with the project can be corroborated by Allan de Abreu (allandeabreu@revistapiaui.com.br), the main reporter for this piece.

**The original project details are as follows:**

Amazon Under Siege (The Intercept Brasil)
This feature examines the rise in the numbers of shooting clubs in the Amazon and their effects on the neighbouring indigenous lands and other vulnerable communities. For this project, I worked to visualize the original data obtained by The Intercept team in engaging ways, and used static and animated maps and charts. This project was specially important in the context of the 2022 brazilian elections.

Cities & the Climate (Rede Interação)
This large-scale infographic was comissioned by the NGO Rede Interação and produced with input from the communities of Santarém, Pará. It illustrates how urban life relates to climate change and many of the feedback loops involved in these interactions. I was responsible for research, writing, designing, mapping and illustrating the piece. It was distributed freely at Amazon cities and online, in three languages, and informed citizens of the north region of Brazil.

Cattle Laundering (Revista Piauí)
Part of a larger investigative initiative made in collaboration with OCCRP, CCCA and Fiquem Sabendo, this piece for Piauí details how cattle laundering works in the Amazon and how ingrained it is in the meat business in Brazil. I produced static charts and maps and an animated video detailing the process and it’s effects. This project shed a light on a repeating pattern on the region.

The radicalization of Jovem Pan (Revista Piauí)
This visual analysis produced for Piauí with Novelo Data’s team illustrates how one of Brazil’s biggest TV outlets became a disseminator of Bolsonaro’s ideology. For this piece I watched hundreds of programs to piece together a video montage detailing how the channel’s positioning changed over time and how it fit with Bolsonaro’s agenda. I also produced static charts with data processed by Novelo Data’s team from YouTube transcriptions.

The Connection (Revista Piauí)
In this piece, I collaborated with charts, illustrations, and maps reporters which reconstructed the route of a batch of yellow ipê wood illegally extracted from the Brazilian state of Pará to a store in New York. Made in collaboration with OCCRP and CCCA, the piece revealed a series of irregularities and corrupt practices along the route that helped to “launder” the endangered wood. The movement of the ipê batch also raised suspicions among Brazilian customs officials, but a series of decisions by the then-Minister of the Environment undermined any chance of investigating the sale. That same minister had already faced scrutiny by the Federal Police for facilitating the international smuggling of timber from the Amazon. Shortly thereafter, he resigned.

Yanomami under attack (Sumaúma Jornal)
The Yanomami land is the largest indigenous territory in Brazil and also one of the main targets of illegal miners bringing violence and destruction to the region. Sumaúma obtained data on these impacts and visited the territory in loco, providing me with first-hand reporting on the situation, and images which helped me produce the animated and static maps and charts in the piece.

Deforestation in the meat business in Brazil (Repórter Brasil/Unearthed)
This collaborative investigation from Unearthed, Greenpeace and Repórter Brasil revealed how Brazil’s biggest meat company bought almost 9,000 cattle from one of the biggest deforesters in the country, leading the company to admit, for the first time in its history, to malfeasance. I collaborated with maps, charts and data analysis.

Project links: