It’s highly timely that today we learn that the BBC has sent journalist Ben Hammersley to cover Turkey’s upcoming election using blogging,, Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook as a means of distribution. Because I’m working with two entirely independent journalists, who don’t have the BBC’s resources, to do almost the same thing during a three month trip to two Latin American countries.

We have dubbed the project “Letters from Latin America” “The Motorcycle Blog Diaries Project”, in a nod to the movie about Che Guevara (Update: we are still working on the project name). We are looking for a commercial partner – it might be a brand or an online service with social media services, a technology company or perhaps a media company – to sponsor the project.

Here is the brief:

Using words, pictures and video, journalist Deborah Bonello and photojournalist Tom Parker will combine reportage with ‘bearing witness’ in an odyssey around Latin America, updated, virtually live, as they travel. Initially, the pair is proposing this as a trial project running from July until the end of September, taking in Mexico and Guatemala.

– What will the project do?

Bonello and Parker plan to use every social media and blogging tool available to them to tell the stories and record the experiences of both the human narrative and the real-life stories from Latin America. They will showcase the incredible new potential of the newest forms of new media. In fact, The BBC just launched a similar project.

– What will the project’s content be?

Using words, pictures and video, Bonello and Parker will combine reportage with ‘bearing witness’. Armed with a laptop, microphone and digital video and camera, the pair will tell stories via the experiences of individuals to show a global audience how people in the region live and are affected by the situation in their countries.

What is it really like to live in Mexico City, one of the most populous and polluted cities on earth? Why is Guatemala the adoption capital of the world, where British couples get their babies? What is life like for the refugees of the conflict in Columbia?

Reflecting the changing nature of journalism in today’s world, their blog posts and photo essays will cover the stories that the main media channels miss, wandering off the beaten track to record the lives and experiences of people in the region.

The editorial focus will be on honest, in-depth and insightful pieces covering everything from human rights issues, through to music and culture. Taking a primarily journalistic approach, the content will be transparent and factual.

– Who is it aimed at?

The site will generate a conversation with its audience and encourage others to blog about their lives. The team will also will also take requests from audiences who want the team to investigate particular issues or areas in the region, in a collaboration with the online audience.

– What a partner will get out of this project?

The site will generate a conversation with its audience and encourage others to blog about their lives. Any site offering a social media application, such as blogging, photosharing, video or audio would benefit from the PR and press attention around this project and thus communicate the possibilities of online media. Also, a site which wanted to highlight what life is like to live in the South America of today would also benefit.

– Who are these guys?

Deborah Bonello has been a journalist for the last decade, working for UK business magazines as well as the Guardian and the FT. She spent eighteen months working as a freelance foreign correspondent in South America, filing for the BBC, CNN Traveler and the Guardian, amongst others. She is currently studying for a Masters in Human Rights, and continues to work as a journalist.

Tom Parker has contributed to TIME, Marie Claire, Living etc, The Times, The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, the Mirror, Emirates Open Skies, Portfolio Magazine, BBC, Sri Lankan Airlines Magazine, Etihad. He has undertaken commissions for Redux Pictures and NGOs Action Aid, TUC, Save the Children and Aid Sri Lanka.

Mike Butcher, a social media expert and online journalist, is acting as an advisor on the project and will help with online support from the UK.

– What will the site look like?

The team is modeling the project roughly on the “Kevin Sites Hotzone” project with Yahoo But generally speaking it will be a blog web site with photos, video, RSS feeds, widgets and content which is shareable across the web.

– Where does it get posted?

This depends on the partner the team secure. This trip will happen anyway, the question is simply do they build their own blog or do they offer the opportunity to a sponsoring partner? This is an opportunity for a partner to be involved from the start.

– How much does it cost?

The team is budgeting for a figure to cover the costs involved and the time of the two main journalists and one support person in the UK to oversee the site daily. When compared to what it costs for a site to create buzz online via SEO, PR and marketing the costs are significantly lower. This project could generate significant traffic and press attention for its exploits.


Deborah Bonello

Email: dbonello[at]

Mobile: +44 (0) 7904 079929

or Mike Butcher