Patricia Campos Mello

Folha de Sao Paulo

Patrícia Campos Mello is a reporter-at-large and columnist at Folha de São Paulo newspaper. She is also an associate research scholar at Columbia University, working on a project on electoral disinformation ahead of the Brazilian 2022 presidential election. For over 25 years, she has been covering international relations, economics and human rights, and has reported from over 50 countries. She was awarded the Columbia University Maria Moors Cabot award in 2020, the International Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists in 2019, the Vladimir Herzog Special Award for Democracy and Justice in 2019, the International Committee of the Red Cross Prize for Humanitarian Journalism in 2017, the King of Spain Journalism Prize in 2018, and the Petrobras Prize in 2017 and 2018 (the main award in Brazil).

In 2020, she was awarded the Ordre National du Mérite by the French president Emmanuel Macron. In the same year, she published the best-selling book A máquina do ódio - notas de uma repórter sobre fake news e violência digital (Companhia das Letras), about disinformation campaigns by populist leaders in Brazil, India and the US, intimidation of journalists led by the Bolsonaro administration and the erosion of freedom of the press in Brazil.

Since 2018, she has published a series of stories about illegal use of WhatsApp mass messaging to send fake news and propaganda to manipulate public opinion during the Brazilian electoral campaign in 2018, with illegal financing from businessmen and use of foreign marketing agencies, and other disinformation campaigns. In October 2019, Whats App admitted to the irregular use of the platform in the 2018 elections. The stories led the judicial system to change electoral regulations and ban, in 2019, mass messaging by WhatsApp.

Recently, she covered the Covid-19 epidemic in Brazil, reporting from public hospitals and shelters for homeless populations affected by the disease. She was the Washington correspondent for the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper between 2006 and 2010. She covered the economic crisis in the USA, and the 2008, 2012 and 2016 elections, the war in Afghanistan in 2009, the 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001.

Patrícia has a degree in Journalism from the University of São Paulo and a Master’s in Business and Economic Reporting from New York University, where she received a university scholarship. In the last few years, she has spent time in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Turkey. Lebanon and Kenya reporting on refugees, and she was responsible for the project Mundo de Muros (World of Walls) that depicts the migration crisis on four continents. She was the only Brazilian reporter to cover the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone in 2014 and 2015. In 2017 she published her book Lua de Mel em Kobane (Honeymoon in Kobane) with Companhia das Letras, in which she tells the story of the war against Islamic State in Syria through the eyes of a refugee couple that she met there.

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