Humberto Rezende, Online Editor of Correio Braziliense. Picture: Lance Witten/Cape Argus

Cape Town - When Humberto Rezende first came to South Africa, Nelson Mandela had been president for just eight months.
Rezende was a student at the time, and spent a few months living in SA with a local family, as part of an exchange programme.

Twenty-four years later, Rezende is the Online Editor of Correio Braziliense, one of the most influential media in the densely-populated South American country. 

"When I first came here, it was like Alice going through the looking glass. In as much as it was a journey somewhere, it was a reflection.

"I could see so many similarities between South Africa and Brazil. But what we were told was not like that. We were told we are different. 

"But coming over here, I noticed, the people are very similar. The racism at the time was similar to the racism I experienced in Brazil. The poverty and inequality was very much the same.

"Why then, when we are in Brazil, does our media focus on what America is doing, or what Europe is doing? We should look to each other with similarities, rather than see other, more developed nations as better than us, as if we are somehow 'less than'," Rezende said.

He was speaking on a panel: 'The Media's Role and Responsibility in Strengthening the BRICS Narrative' at the BRICS Media Forum being held in Cape Town on Wednesday and Thursday.

Rezende said the media should not be so euro-centric, and instead should look inward at how challenges can be overcome.

But that's not to say the media should focus on only good news, Rezende said.

"My job, the way I see my job, is that I have to tell good stories, do journalism for good, but should BRICS not deliver on the goals it sets out for itself, I must be open enough to criticise, even within the BRICS Media narrative.

"We need to hold BRICS to account, so that if it does not achieve that which it sets out to do, we must hold them accountable. That is how we support and play a role," Rezende said. 

Cape Argus