Midia Ninja: Covering the Other Side of the World Cup with GoPros and Gas Masks

The World Cup is an international platform for Brazil to showcase its hospitality, culture, and all things soccer. But with all eyes on the country, the soccer tournament also provides a soapbox for activists and citizen journalists.

Midia Ninja, a media collective based in Rio De Janeiro, is one of the pioneers of citizen journalism in Brazil. It has been covering the Cup — the fans, the protests and popular culture surrounding the event — on a new site it launched in partnership with a nonprofit last month.

Midia Ninja has come a long way since it first rose to prominence in 2013, when massive street demonstrations rocked several cities in Brazil during FIFA’s Confederations Cup. Those protests focused on increased transit fares, excessive government expenditures in preparation for the soccer tournament, and the prevalence of police brutality. Midia Ninja, which started as a Facebook page and Twitter account, covered the protests with live-stream feeds and constant updates. The above video tells that story in dramatic fashion.

While many expected the youth protests to return in force during the World Cup, street demonstrations have been smaller and more localized. Still, whenever Brazil or another big-name team plays, there have been protests in larger cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo or Belo Horizonte. Filipe Peçanha, one of the founders of Midia Ninja, was detained by military police on Friday while covering one such event in Rio.

Midia Ninja now has citizen journalists contributing content from more than a dozen cities, and has been publishing more in-depth articles and photo essays on a daily bias.

The group, says Peçanha, is trying to capture the complexity of the moment, as Brazilians are both proud of their country during the tournament, but upset it wasn’t organized in a more inclusive way. Much of the country is divided on the World Cup, but Peçanha believes many Brazilians fall somewhere in-between the extremes of love and hate.

“Between the polarized groups, there are people with a more complex view. There are people who don’t accept the Cup the way it is happening, or the way it was done, but that doesn’t stop them from rooting for Brazil, watching the games, and participating in what is, truthfully, a meeting of civilizations here in Brazil,” he said.