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Brazzil - Media - August 2004

Brazilian Media's Art of Bullying

The Brazilian press continues to play an undignified role. Above
all, because it deals with information in a non-critical fashion.
The press is only concerned with the content of the allegation not
how the news leaked. Amidst the haste to report the charge, the
way in which the gun was loaded and the shot fired is left aside.

Alberto Dines


Picture The weekly newsmagazine Isto É is on the attack again. And in order to justify the self-conveyed attribute of "independent," the magazine staged an assault against the government. Pure hot air.

The first strikes, in an experimental form, were directed toward the National Library Foundation, whose head office is inside the vulnerable Ministry of Cultural Affairs.

Now, the weekly has increased its fire-power, aiming at a portentous target: the president of the Central Bank and one of his aides, director Luiz Augusto Candiota. Behind the two men, economic policy mentor: Antônio Palocci, Brazil's Finance Minister.

In both cases, the same accusation (evasion of foreign currency and tax); same source, identical beneficiary, middleman, and interest. The target is not the government, but a sector of the administration. Particularly, the segment less closely tied to the Workers Party, the more "liberal".

It's not fitting for this publication to meddle in this new round of palatial intrigues. The task belongs to political commentators and certain factions of our native investigative journalism.

However, it is imperative to debate the role of some media outfits amid this swordfight between the two contending groups vying for supremacy behind the scenes.

If the press is a matter of national interest, as it was echoed by high profile figures prior to Pro-Media, the moves by certain elements of the press cannot go without the necessary repairs.

Within this framework, one must identify the presence of businessman Mario Garnero (Brasilinvest Group), who currently maintains close relations with Cabinet members, as a magnet in the battle inside government quarters.

Today, this corporate man moves with enormous ease and no discretion through the decision making process of the weekly magazine and other media outlets of the red press—that is, the press that is technically bankrupt, in the red.

Duel of Bullies

In this analysis, we must examine very closely and with more attention the allegations reported by the daily Folha de S. Paulo, in their column Deals & Pending Matters (Negócios & Pendências), concerning the involvement of the firm Kroll Associates in the Brasil Telecom spying case, and ascertain who the targets are: Cassio Casseb, Banco do Brasil president (under Finance Minister Palocci) and Communications Minister Luiz Gushiken (who runs on an exclusive lane).

Folha's md (modus operandi) is quite different from Isto É' s—the big daily operates at another level. Here, Folha needs to show that its old claws and former fire power have not been affected by the giant cut in personnel, some 40 journalists.

Just as crucial is to follow the moves by the newspaper Jornal do Brasil (JB) in covering one more scandal involving banker Daniel Dantas. Owner of Bank Opportunity and allegedly the man responsible for the spying operation, he is a fierce enemy of Nelson Tanure, chief commander of JB, and with whom businessman Mario Garnero is associated as well.

What it means is that the press continues to take advantage and to pick up the pieces of what remains once the dirt of the battles between big and opposing interests settles.

That is how it has been in all scandals surfaced since 1988, manufactured by "movie-like journalism". In the western flick featuring bullies and their opponents, the press didn't quite perform the villain role—it played a mere ignoble string-puppet.

Non-critical Information

One positive fact must be pointed out in favor of the news organization: It has brought an end to the pool of scandals, hullabaloo by hire, premature repercussion, and the suite of what has not yet taken place. Before, everyone would jump in with the same appetite, certain to be flooded with new videos and phone taps at the next release.

Until recently, the most spectacular accusations were released on its entirety, simultaneously, to the most important media outlets—even competitors—and made available on the Internet with enough lead time (usually, on Wednesdays).

This time, the investigative release distributed by Isto É generated some buzz only on news websites, always more receptive naturally. On the so-called major press, the "breaking news" had already been disqualified prior to the issue's arrival at the subscribers' home.

In any case, the press continues to play an undignified role. Above all, because it deals with information in a non-critical fashion. The press is only concerned with the content of the "accusation", in complete disregard to something just as important: the leakage. Amidst the haste to report the allegation, the way in which the gun was loaded and the shot fired is left aside.

Evil conscience.

This article was originally published in Observatório da Imprensa —www.observatoriodaimprensa.com.br.

Alberto Dines, the author, is a journalist, founder and researcher at LABJOR—Laboratório de Estudos Avançados em Jornalismo (Laboratory for Advanced Studies in Journalism) at UNICAMP (University of Campinas) and editor of the Observatório da Imprensa. He also writes a column on cultural issues for the Rio daily Jornal do Brasil. You can reach him by email at obsimp@ig.com.br.
Translated from the Portuguese by Eduardo Assumpção de Queiroz. He is a freelance translator, with a degree in Business and almost 20 years of experience working in the fields of economics, communications, social and political sciences, and sports. He lives in Boca Raton, FL. His email: eaqus@adelphia.net.

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