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Lessons Learned: How the Brazilian Media Can Use Tragedy to Push for Change

Sean Silva

Tragedy in Brazil
The scene in Santa Maria after pyrotechnics burned down a nightclub, killing 245 and injuring more than 200

This should not have happened.  Not again.  Not in the same exact way.  For the second time in less than 10 years, nightclub pyrotechnics resulted in tragedy at a South American nightclub.  At least 245 were killed, with over 200 more injured, at a nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil this past weekend.  In 2004, this same situation unfolded in Buenos Aires, Argentina at a downtown nightclub, killing 194.  While our thoughts and prayers certainly go out to the victims, times like these require us to take a step back and understand what can be learned.

The media can be extremely powerful for those who know how to use it.  In the United States, the recent shooting in Newtown, Connecticut dominated headlines.  Signs of support, moments of silence, and honorary tributes were held throughout the country and amplified through our media channels.  Less than two months later, gun control reform was atop President Obama’s priority list given during his presidential inauguration.

This is a golden example of how strong, consistent messages do not fall upon deaf ears.  The US has an extremely powerful and far-reaching media.  Journalists here have a strong enough following where they can help institute positive change.  But not every country’s media has this level of influence.  And perhaps that is the lesson to be learned here.

The Brazilian media must take a page from the US media template, and push for change in event regulation.  They must relentlessly call for items like pyrotechnics to be banned at all public places.  The standard for public facility safety requirements must be both raised and standardized.  There can no longer be tolerance for a venue holding 2,000 people to only have one exit.  And Brazil is in a great position to make this stand, because the media appetite is certainly in place: Brazil is second only to the United States in number of Facebook users.  Think about the messages that can be spread, and the initiatives that can be created, if a statistic like this was properly leveraged.

Brazil is clearly a nation on the rise, and this is another opportunity to raise the standards it holds itself to while setting an example for the rest of Latin America.  Furthermore, this is a chance for the Brazilian media to step up and show the world that, like their counterparts in the US, they too can help institute positive change.

How can Brazil move forward from this tragedy and what can be gained?  Do you think the Brazilian media is up to the task of helping institute positive change? Leave your thoughts within the comments. End of Story

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