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Can El País Bring Journalism Back to the Brazilian Press?

El País front page The arrival of the Portuguese version of the daily El País in Brazil, comes at a good time, at least for the Spanish newspaper. El País arrives at a time when the Brazilian media is undergoing a process of mistrust, in other words, the media is discredited on both sides.

The Left accuses the mainstream media of being a kind of PIG (Partido da Imprensa Golpista – Party of the Pro-Coup Press), which hides crimes and malpractice from the “Right,” i.e., the PSDB party and its allies, which is accused of giving disproportionate space for everything that is bad related to the Workers Party (PT) and its allies, while the “alternative media” and the so-called “progressive” blogs are considered government cronies and are largely funded directly or indirectly by the PT.

It is worth noting that the “mainstream media” is also largely financed by the PT, via the federal government through the Secom, the communications Secretariat linked to the Presidency of the Republic, but you don’t see an ideological alignment resulting from this financing – on the contrary.

El País arrives with an international reputation and is known for its center-left position. It started on a pleasing note with an interview with Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff and pieces that many considered thought provoking.

No doubt, a first look at the new El País in Portuguese suggests a more cordial tone towards the Government, despite scathing criticism of their columnist Eliane Brum, already famous for not smoothing things over on sensitive issues.

The Spanish paper nevertheless seems to practice a more centered journalism that is less skewed and even shameless or openly imaginary, as in the case of Veja magazine, which has abandoned journalism for years now.

In other words, from the start, El País seems to adopt a less confrontational position and does not clash with the federal Government and with the PT, focusing more on, perhaps, doing journalism.

We need now to wait a few weeks to have a final concrete idea on how they will behave editorially. The fact that the paper has a foreign origin may make it easier to be independent from the Brazilian companies and financial institutions, which might also ensure greater journalistic freedom.

El País also arrives at a crucial pre-election moment. We have the mensalão’s authors in jail or in the process of being arrested, a period of analysis of the June and subsequent protests and discussion of the possible trial of the PSDB’s party mensalão and, more recently, the discovery of 450 kilos of cocaine in the helicopter of a close ally of the PSDB’s candidate to the presidency, Aécio Neves.

This particular case helps us understand why many have enthusiastically saluted the journalism’s “breath of fresh air” given that the case of the helicopter seized with 450 kg of cocaine by he Federal Police, belonging to Congressman Gustavo Perrella, son of Zezé Perrella, a senator from Minas Gerais, has been systematically ignored by the mainstream media; a case that could have consequences and cause damages to powerful political clans.

Why is the media silent? This is something that few understand and this opens a space for the new media to investigate. To the “Left”, in addition to the traditional government cronyism and the all-out effort to prevent PT members to go to jail for corruption there is also the internal dispute between, for example, Paulo Henrique Amorim and his blog Conversa Afiada (Sharp Talk) and the online publication Brazil 247, with mutual exchanges of accusations, causing real damage to true journalism.

In addition, of course, to the cloud hanging over the heads of many “progressive” bloggers, which is the suspicion of being the recipients of non-declared funding by the PT and the government, which would go beyond mere ideological sympathy.

Anyway, El País doesn’t even need to do much, besides practicing serious journalism, since in Brazil journalism seems more like mere slapstick every passing day. There is plenty of room for the new media to grow amid Brazil’s traditional journalistic desert, linked to patrimonial, corporate and partisan interests.

Interestingly, in Spain, El País is known as a center-left newspaper, which adopts extremely conservative positions when it comes to the nationalist movement of the Basque country or Catalonia.

It sometimes adopts a position similar to that of the fascists of the Popular Party, namely, to the right of the political spectrum.

It remains to be seen how the paper will behave when dealing with issues as diverse as those presented by the Brazilian political landscape.

Raphael Tsavkko Garcia has a master’s degree in Communication and is getting his PhD in Human Rights.

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