In journalism, a lot of people’s stories sound alike, because they aren’t truly people’s stories; they are labels, they are in the media to illustrate “facts”: “the family in times of financial crisis”, “the depressed person”, “the migrant”, the “Alzheimer patient”. There are people’s stories that don’t fall into categories, that don’t need a pretext to matter.
I became a journalist because I wanted to know people different from myself, the more different the better. I firmly believe that one of the most important goals of journalism – and maybe what made me want to become a journalist – is to introduce readers to lives different from their own, to create empathy with those who are not close to us. It is what I look for in stories that urge me to tell them.
This website showcases some of my most meaningful work. I named it Vidas particulares. In English it would be something along the lines of Exceptional Lives but not quite. Vidas means lives, the word “Particular” in Portuguese may mean private, unique, unusual, exceptional. These are not necessarily the stories of extraordinary people but their life stories have something that made them special. They have something that made me want to tell them, many of them have something that, along the way, moved me.
What I have grown to understand is that there are unknown people who were not aware how uncommon their common lives are. Many of the people I’ve met had no idea that their lives were somehow singular, that they could be of interest to a lot of people, that they were worth a newspaper article or more than that. One of the most rewarding things about my work was to introduce them to the value of their lives.
These are a very small part of the hundreds of articles I’ve written for almost 20 years working as a journalist. These are some of the ones that mattered, that have stuck to my memory. They are shown without dates of publication, I like to think that they can outlive the days they were published.
The articles were originally published in the Portuguese newspaper Público. All the articles are summarised in English and the original texts in Portuguese can be seen via a pdf or link to the newspaper. Three of the award-winning reports are fully translated into English (The search for my Portuguese father, Childhood through a window and 500 years later, the Habibs are looking for a house in Portugal).