“Citizen Reporter” (“Cidadão Repórter”) is a mechanism through which readers provide tips and complaints on incidents such as power outages and problems with mobile providers, and occasionally anonymous reports on issues such as corruption and labor abuses. These accounts are submitted via e-mail, SMS, Blackberry Messenger, Facebook and Twitter. @Verdade reporters follow up on some of these accounts and report back in a section of the print newspaper called “Complaint Book” (“Livro de Reclamações”).
We not only use our influence to help readers get their complaints heard, but also to teach them how to make complaints effectively. Often readers report that they have made official complaints to the government or to companies, with no response. We give them a voice to get their demands across. For example, using crowd sourcing techniques, we follow up on complaints and develop them into news reports that put pressure on the relevant authorities. In one such account, we published stories from electricity users whose home appliances were breaking down due to power surges. This forced an existing but barely known sector regulator to come out and call public meetings to address the problem. In another case, we helped customers of a telecommunications company pressure for compensation for bad service.
One of our most effective applications of “Citizen Reporter” has been in support of elections. In fact, we first launched “Citizen Reporter” for the presidential elections of 2009 where we encouraged readers to SMS incidences of fraud or voter intimidation. We used “Citizen Reporter” again to protect the vote at the 2011 mayoral elections in Cuamba, Pemba and Quelimane. Learn more about our involvement in elections.