Friday, June 22, 2007

‘The Motorcycle Blog Diaries Project’

Deborah Bonello, a freelance journalist, specialising in digital media and advertising, is setting off with another journalist, Tom Parker to South America for a digital experiment. Initially travelling through Mexico and Guatemala, the pair are launching a social media experiment and plan to cover stories on their trip through using blogging,, Flickr, YouTube and Facebook.

The idea is to use words, pictures and video to “bear witness” in their journey through Latin America and to update as they go along. Bonello said she would focus on “the experiences of both the human narrative and real-life stories from Latin America”, stories that the mainstream media normally miss. In a nod to the book and film ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ which documents the young Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara’s trip through South America with his companion Alberto Granada, they have dubbed the trip ‘The Motorcycle Blog Diaries Project.’ No Motorcycle is being used for transportation however – Aww! Well, I guess Ponderosa II did not make it too far in the original anyway.

Another journalist, Mike Butcher, will be working with the pair back in the UK and will be helping to find a sponsor for the trip. They are currently looking for a commercial partner, either a brand or an online service. It is expected that the project and its sponsor(s) will gain widespread press attention as they highlight the potential of social media technology in today’s ever-more technology driven world.

I’m quite excited to see what the experiment will uncover. Aside from simply providing readers with an output, the two will also be involved in dialogue with their audience and through reader ‘requests’ will investigate particular stories in the region they are in, in collaboration with their online audience.

Will this be the future of newscasting? I doubt it will replace mainstream news altogether, but I certainly think, should this experiment, and the similar experiment to be undertaken by a BBC journalist covering the general election in Turkey this July, be successful, we will see a lot more of this type of journalism.

Interesting too that they have chosen Facebook over Myspace for their social site, as more and more people seem to be moving from the latter to the former, especially within the older age groups.

I’m really looking forward to the start of their journey and following their progress, from both a professional and personal point of view.

Vive le digital revolution! Che Guevara would be proud (at least with regards to the revolution part).

You’ll find the blog at Letters from Latin America, which has already been set up, but as yet does not contain any content. I’m unsure at the moment when the experiment is due to start, but will keep you updated when I find out. Gordon’s Republic also provided contact details for both Deborah Bonello ( and Mike Butcher should you wish more details.

[Update: Letters from Latin America does not seem to be in place anmore, Deborah's blog can be found instead at New Correspondent]

[Further update: The site has now changed name to Mexico Reporter and can be found here]

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At 8:23 AM, Anonymous neilperkin said...

Thanks for this. I met Deborah once (she's lovely) but I didn't know about this so will take a look


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