About This Project

In many countries around the world, democracies are under attack from within by leaders who were elected by the very same systems they seek to undermine. A wave of populist leaders have tapped into the economic and social discontent of their countries, fanning the flames of nationalism to win elections and advance their agenda.

All of them seem to use the same tactics to tighten their grip on power, a “playbook” of sorts with authoritarian undertones. In this project, named “Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook”, we dispatched GroundTruth reporting fellows to India, Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Poland, Italy and the United States to report on this strategies and the forces behind them.

The Fellows

Letícia Duarte, reporting in: Brazil

Letícia Duarte is a Brazilian journalist and a recipient of a 2019 Overseas Press Club Foundation Award. In more than ten years working for Zero Hora, the main newspaper in southern Brazil, she produced a range of significant stories on social and political issues. In 2015 she accompanied a Syrian family from Greece to Germany, chronicling their journey to escape civil war through eight countries in seven days, for what became an award-winning multimedia story called A Refugee Story. With her body of work, she placed 24th on the 2015 list of the 200 most-acknowledged journalists in Brazil’s history, published by Jornalistas & Cia.

Since last year, she has reported on disinformation and the rise of authoritarianism in Brazil. The theme is the topic of her M.A. in Politics and Global Affairs thesis at Columbia University. Besides the GroundTruth Democracy Undone Fellowship, Letícia has a post-grad fellowship with Columbia Journalism School, focused on gender and migration issues.

Episode 1: Weaponize Fear

Lorenzo Bagnoli, reporting in: Italy

Lorenzo Bagnoli is investigative reporter and board member at IRPI – Investigative reporting project Italy. He joined International teams of journalists in project such as “The Daphne Project”, “Unfinished lives, unfinished justice”, “Security for Sale”, Gold for visa” and “Mafia in Africa”. His main topics are transnational organized crime groups, money laundering and migration. He is currently investigating in the rise of the far-right movements in Europe.

Alessia Cerantola, reporting in: Italy

Alessia Cerantola is an investigative journalist working with OCCRP. She is a co-founder of the Investigative Reporting Project Italy (IRPI), a member of the ICIJ and a radio reporter for the BBC World Service. Alessia has been reporting from Japan since 2007, with a special focus on the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake, the ensuing tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear disaster. She covered environmental issues, sex crimes and corruption for a cross section of media including the Guardian, The Japan Times and Al Jazeera. In 2016 she was part of the Pulitzer Prize winning investigation of the Panama Papers.

Episode 2: Target Outsiders

Juan Arredondo, reporting in: Colombia

Juan Arredondo is a Colombian-American documentary photographer who has chronicled human rights and conflict stories in Colombia, Venezuela and Central America. He is a regular contributor to The New York Times, National Geographic, ESPN among others.

Since 2014, he has been reporting on the use of child soldiers by illegal armed groups in Colombia, the peace agreement between the Colombian Government and FARC and most recently the demobilization and reintegration of formers fighters into the Colombian society, for which he was awarded a World Press Photo award in 2018. He is 2019 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

Episode 3: Undermine Institutions

Quentin Ariès, reporting in: Hungary

Quentin Ariès is a French reporter based in Brussels where he focuses on European politics, lobbying, the latest twists of the Brexit saga … while keeping an eye on France and Belgium. He regularly contributes to several U.S. and French media outlets including the Washington Post, Contexte and Médiapart. On his spare time, he is also the president of Cafébabel, the first multilingual pan-European media dedicated to Europe in real life.

Episode 4: Rewrite History

Soumya Shankar, reporting in: India

Soumya Shankar is a journalist focused on democracy and social movements in South Asia. Her work has appeared in Foreign Policy, The South China Morning Post, The Intercept and The Wire, among others. She is an alumna of the Columbia Journalism School and teaches journalism at Stony Brook University, New York.

Episode 5: Exploit Religion

Una Hajdari, reporting in: Poland

Una Hajdari is a freelance journalist focused on issues of post-conflict and post-socialist identity, and their interplay with the far-right. Her work has been published in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Guardian, and The New Republic, among others. She has been awarded numerous fellowships over the years, including those by the International Women’s Media Foundation, the Robert Bosch Foundation, the Berlin Journalism school and awards for investigative stories on minority and ethnic issues.

Episode 6: Divide and Conquer

Tracy Jarret, reporting in: United States

Tracy Jarret is a reporter/producer at VICE Media. She was part of the Peabody award-winning team at NBC News, where she was a multimedia producer and reporter. She’s also a member of GroundTruth’s advisory board. Previously, Jarrett worked as a GlobalPost Global Health Fellow and traveled to South Africa to report on women and children living with HIV. Jarrett’s work has allowed her to participate in international fellowships through the International Reporting Project, the International Center for Journalists and the UN Foundation. Jarrett graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2012 and Amherst College in 2011.

Episode 7: Erode Truth

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