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A Lesson of Brazil with Professor Lula

 A Lesson of Brazil with Professor Lula

Brazilian President
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in his State of the
Union address decided to give the press a lecture. The
presidential incursion into journalistic theory was unfortunate.
It reveals a voluntarist facet until now reserved to economic or
political analysts and it may generate dangerous confusion.
by: Alberto
Dines

 

The closing ceremonies
for this first year of the graduate degree in Brazilian Sciences turned into
a prodigious 87-minute-long Magna Class delivered by the Head of State, Brazilian
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, during which its almost 176 million
students learned a bunch of stuff about themselves. Including economists,
philosophers, business people, statisticians, historians, geographers and
political scientists.

Journalists were bestowed
with at least five extremely original propositions:

1. "News is
the stuff we don’t want to see published. The rest is commercials."

2. "Therefore,
if we talk less and say only the necessary, we will sure feel happier every
morning when we open the pages of newspapers and magazines."

3. "The press
is really like a mother’s heart: no matter how much we fight it, we know we
need her."

4. "So, instead
of fighting it [the press], it’s better to establish a good-neighbor
policy so that everyone wins."

5. "To you,
journalists, be patient with me and I will be patient with you [applause
from the press bloc]."

If you look carefully,
these propositions are complementary, like pieces of a single line of reasoning.
Together, re-read and re-evaluated, they reveal a curious coherence that would
be healthy if it were not for the candid revelation enclosed in it, almost
a fixation.

It is imperative that
the press say good things about the government. If the ministers say little—hiding
whatever is likely to stir debate—,if the journalists are as patient
with the government as the government is with journalists and if the news
are still not pleasant to read or to watch, forget journalism and let’s turn
to advertising. If we learn to live together, everybody wins. The press must
work like a mother’s generous heart, ready to forget the shortcomings of the
son (the government), just as the son chooses not to see the obsessions of
the mother (the press).

The talk from the throne
raised some interesting comments in the press:

** Comments by Teresa
Cruvinel (O Globo, 12/18, page 2):

"The hurt [the
president] refers to comes from the time when the PT was the opposition
party and did not deserve the same space given to the government. Just like
it happens today with PFL and PSDB. It is natural, although the PT has nothing
to complain about, since its accusations were always published, as well as
its political proposals.

Really bad was the medicine
prescribed: to talk less so that the next day papers can be more pleasant.
Lula and a good section of the administration insist on ignoring that, once
in power, communication with the people, in order to have credibility, will
have to pass through the communication media and not through the most important
marketing in the campaign."

** In the story (that
is, in the report that the government would rather not see in print), Estado
de S. Paulo reprints excerpts of the speech in which the President mentions
the press and adds some information (news?) about what Press Secretary Ricardo
Kotscho does with journalists who disobey his recommendations.

** The information (news??)
published in Folha de S.Paulo (same day, page A 4) has the same title
used by its competitor and adds some details (newsy?) about the drafting of
the speech and the event.

One thing is for sure:
the presidential incursion into journalistic theory was unfortunate. It reveals
a voluntarist facet until now reserved to economic or political analysts and
it may generate dangerous confusion.

If the media insists in
being newsy _ that is, to publish news _ it is going to generate much irritation.
On the other hand, it will be privileged by commercials.

A mother is always a mother.

 
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

This article
was originally published in Observatório da Imprensa — www.observatoriodaimprensa.com.br
Translated by
Tereza Braga. Braga is a freelance Portuguese translator and interpreter
based in Dallas. She is an accredited member of the American Translators
Association. Contact: terezab@sbcglobal.net 

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