CPJ is honored to present its 2019 International Press Freedom Award to Brazilian journalist Patrícia Campos Mello.
Patrícia Campos Mello is an award-winning reporter and columnist at the daily Folha de S. Paulo, one of Brazil's biggest news outlets, and an experienced international correspondent. She has reported on human rights and public health stories in Brazil, including on babies being born with microcephaly as a result of the Zika virus in 2016. She has also reported on the war in Afghanistan, the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, the national elections in India, and migration and the refugee crisis in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Turkey, Lebanon, and Kenya.
From 2006 to 2010, she was the Washington correspondent for the Estado de S. Paulo (Estadão) newspaper. Prior to that, she worked at business and finance publications including Valor Econômico and Gazeta Mercantil.
- "Fraude com CPF viabilizou disparo de mensagens de WhatsApp na eleição," Patrícia Campos Mello, Folha de S. Paulo, December 2018
- "Países precisam se preparer para abrigar venezuelanos por muito tempo, diz representante da ONU," Patrícia Campos Mello, Folha de S. Paulo, March 2019
- "Empresários bancam campanha contra o PT pelo WhatsApp," Patrícia Campos Mello, Folha de S. Paulo, October 2018
In late 2018, during the Brazilian presidential election campaign, Campos Mello was attacked online in response to her coverage of allegations about efforts by a group of businessmen supporting then-presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro to sponsor bulk messaging on WhatsApp related to the campaign. After the stories were published, she was threatened on social media and over the phone. Callers made direct threats against her and her family, and social media users shared doctored photos and fake news stories about her. In addition, details of events in which she planned to participate were shared among hundreds of WhatsApp groups, with calls for Bolsonaro supporters to attend the events and confront her in person. Campos Mello was forced to cancel all public appearances for more than a month, and her newspaper hired a bodyguard for her. A WhatsApp number for the newspaper Folha was flooded with hundreds of thousands of messages related to her reporting.
The attack on Campos Mello was one of the most visible cases of doxxing in a year and election cycle in which dozens of journalists were harassed and criticized for their reporting. "I am more cautious in my approach to people in the new government because I worry they are going to use it against me," Campos Mello told CPJ in December.
Campos Mello received the King of Spain Journalism Prize and the Petrobras Prize in 2018 and the Red Cross International Committee Prize for humanitarian journalism in 2017.