• Latin American media systems in comparative perspective
• Latin American media systems versus Southern Europe
• The Brazilian media during the dictatorship and today
• Brazilian media and journalism since the 1990’s
• Political and economic constraints on Brazilian journalism:
the influence of international trends
• Political journalism genres and coverage of elections from
the direct elections campaign onwards
• Professionalism and balance since 2002
• The rise of the Internet, citizen journalism and blogging
Comparing media systems: Southern Europe and
Latin America (in Hallin and Mancini, 2000)
• Historical perspectives: State intervention in South America has
reinforced governmental power (Waisbord, 2000)
• Market liberalisation and political democratisation have assigned new
roles for state (more democratic participatory) and market (liberating
versus oppressive of debate)
• Similarities between Latin American media systems and Southern
European (Hallin and Papathanassopoulos (2002, 3):
• 1) the low circulation of newspapers;
2) tradition of advocacy reporting;
3) instrumentalization (political use) of privately-owned media;
4) politicization of broadcasting and regulation;
5) limited development of journalism autonomy.
The Brazilian media system during the
• Authoritarian regimes in Latin America
• Brazilian media (1964-1985):
a) Militant journalism and resistance in the alternative
b) Era of “enlightened” debate?
c) Alignments of the mainstream media versus resistance
of certain journalists and newspapers during specific periods
Daily newspapers and weekly magazines
• Newspapers (500)
• Folha de Sao Paulo
(413.000 in 2001)
• Estado de Sao Paulo
• Extra (307.500)
• O Dia (249.900)
• Jornal do Brasil (120.000)
• Magazines (1.485)
* Veja (1,1 million)
* Playboy (442.200)
* Claudia (439.200)
* Superinteressante (380.700)
* Isto E (372.700)
* Exame (181.300)
Broadcasters and online media
(281 stations in 2001)
• TV Globo
• Rede TV!
• Online media
(14 million Internet users)
• Uol, AOL, IG, Globo.com
• Cable television
• Net Brasil & TVA
• Sky 7 DirecTV
Brazilian media today
• Studies on Latin American countries like Brazil and Mexico
(Matos, 2008; Hughes, 2006; Waisbord, 2000) have shown
how the contemporary years following from the collapse of
dictatorships in the mid-80s have been marked by the
existence of competing forms of journalism in newsrooms.
• Journalism of the 1990’s – Blurring of the boundaries
between newsrooms and commercial departments . The
expansion of professionalism and objectivity
• The decline of partisanship and militant journalism -
romantic journalism of the 1970’s versus pragmatism of the
Brazilian journalism in the 1990’s
• My investigations of the state of journalism in Latin America also
inquires over the struggle for press freedom in the continent,
examining further the talks about the decline in the tradition of the
watchdog function and of investigative journalism.
• Decade of the 1990’s - multiple journalism identities (increase of
public debate x decline of public sphere
• Rise of watchdog journalism and investigative reporting as a
contemporary genre of the 1990’s (Waisbord, 2000)
• Blurring of the boundaries between the marketing and journalism
• Growth of professionalism in newsrooms with the media reforms of
Folha and O Globo.
• However, the media have remained partisan, and during the 2006
and 2010 elections accusations of bias emerged again
Latin American broadcasting has adopted US
• TV in many Latin American countries has developed following the US
• I.e. Development of Brazilian television by military planners in the
1960’s onwards contributed for the formation of what Straubhaar
(2001; 138) has defined as the “nationalizing vocation”, and the
creation of a consumer culture and engagement of Brazilians in the
market economy (Matos, 2008).
• Television has taken on a central role in political life, in the country’s
democratisation process and in the construction of various identities.
• It is possible to say that in this sense TV Globo carries some
resemblance with the role played by the BBC in the UK.
Comparative communication research on Latin American
journalism and politics
• Recent comparative political communication research (i.e. Matos, 2008;
Hughes, 2006) highlighted the complex role of the market in the
democratization process, how journalism itself changed and how
politicians, civil society representatives exercised pressure on media
systems and pushed for advancements within a scenario of media
• In his investigation of the relationship between public opinion and
journalism in Latin American countries, Waisbord (2000, 76) has also
pointed out how the high levels of trust during the early and mid-1990s
were interpreted in terms of the impact that the watchdog journalism
function had in the region, including in Brazil during the 1990s with the
rise of investigative reporting and following the impeachment of former
president Collor in 1989.
• As Zelizer (2004, 155) states, journalists in Latin America developed
their own version of watchdog journalism, as a response to the political
order, and ended up forcing a new moral force on Latin American
journalists (Waisbord, 2000).
Latin American journalism and the US
• Journalism in Latin America has been shaped and defined by both
European and American influences (i.e. Marques de Melo, 2009).
• The media in Latin America must be examined taking into consideration
geographical, ethnical, linguistic, cultural, economic and political
• Countries like Mexico, Brazil and Argentina have capitals which
consume more newspapers in a less elite basis than nations like Haiti,
Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua (Buckman, 1996, 30).
• American journalism and ideals of press freedom have had a major
influence on the continent following World War II, when the US became
the dominant power (i.e. Lins da Silva, 1990).
History and development of Brazilian
• Brazil is now considered as having a relatively independent press.
• Key studies which have examined the role of the media in
democratization and the nature of the relationship between journalism
and government (i.e. Fox, 1998; Waisbord, 2000; Straubhaar, 2001;
Skidmore, 1993; Matos, 2008) have underscored how the contemporary
reality is still embedded in an authoritarian legacy.
• Brazilian journalism seems to lie in between the liberal North American
model and the more partisan European journalism tradition (i.e.
‘mixing’ of American with national specificities).
• Some Brazilian scholars talk about the existence of a ‘hybrid’ form of
journalism, one which is capable of combining both local and global
influences to produce a Brazilian way of doing journalism (i.e. Marques
de Mello, 2009).
• The contemporary period has seen multiple journalism cultures in
newsrooms - some have adopted a wider social responsibility ethos
whilst others endorsed more market or celebrity-driven styles.
History and development of Brazilian journalism
• As Marques de Melo (2009, 11) has highlighted, Brazil has managed to
‘....cannibalise foreign cultural models and turn them into hybrid....’. It
also carries some resembles, as we have seen, with Southern European
media systems, whilst however striving to reflect more sharply US
commercial liberal ideology (i.e. Hallin and Mancini, 2004; Hallin and
Papathanassopoulos, 2002) mainly from the context of the Cold War
onwards (i.e. Lins da Silva, 1990).
• European liberal journalism ideals, including press liberty, have
influenced Brazilian journalism since its very foundation (Marques de
Mello, 2009, 13).
• Journalism during the re-democratization years has thus mingled
between various different styles and influences, with sectors of the
mainstream media showing a wider commitment to media
professionalism, in spite of setbacks and the persistence of partisanship.
This was largely due to the personal political interests of media
organisations and the need of markets to cater to a wider public and
demands made by civil society.
Political journalism as an avenue for debate: from
the direct elections to 2002
• Due to the shift from the powers of the state to those of the market in
the late 1980’s, there was a transition from forms of political constraints
to economic motives.
• FSP columnist Janio de Freitas has argued that political power in Brazil
has learned to live better with press liberty than business has:
• “Journalism is an exercise which is badly tolerated by the economic and
social power.., including the political power. I think also that the
political power has been more affected by press liberty, but it is the one
which has learned to live with journalism better. The economic power
does not tolerate this…”.
• I.e. Concerns of the business world regarding how ‘the market’ would
react to the possibility of the PT being sworn into power in 1994 and in
2002, and the type of political decisions which could be made because
of this, such as an abandonment of the privatisation programme, the rise
of the minimum wage or the reluctance in signing a deal with the IMF
imposed constraints on the coverage
Political journalism as an avenue for debate: from
the direct elections to 2002
• Similarly to Janio, Nassif is critical of the economic orthodoxy that
marked the decade of the 1990’s:
• “After 94/95, you see how financial journalism has been subordinated
to the clichés of the market in a scandalous form. Who are the winners
of this model, which was in place mainly from 1994 and 1998, but
which continues? It is a model of globalisation with social exclusion…
When some journalists went to ask questions to Gustavo Franco
(former president of the Central Bank) in a seminar in Rio, the answer
was that the market does not allow it…how do you construct such a
model of subordination of the country to the market?”
• If on one hand the market functioned as a liberating force in the post-
dictatorship period, guaranteeing wider press freedom and exercising
the watchdog role, on the other hand it also imposed limits on the
consolidation of political democracy and on the wider democratisation
of Brazilian society
Patterns of political reporting post-1994
• The early 1990’s were years of struggle for both political and economic
stability. This decade saw a strengthening of the role of the presidency,
with high expectations being placed by the population on individual
politicians and presidents regarding the chances that they could actually
reduce social inequality levels and boost economic growth.
• The result was the formation of a pattern of political reporting which
favoured direct tug-of-wars between candidates, reflecting aspects of
Brazilian culture with its cult of personalism and authority figures (Da
• The content and critical textual analysis conducted in my first research
(Matos, 2008) showed that, similar to 1989, the 1994 elections were
“individualized” around the personalities, personal ambitions and
qualities of the main candidates.
• This was the case in relation to the two main political players of the
1990’s (Lula and Cardoso), who sometimes had their personalities more
subjected to debate by the media than their political and economic
Professionalism and objectivity in Brazil
• Professionalization of media industries – Globo Organisations,
Folha and the Abril Group
• News as a commodity – increase of marketing practices in
newsrooms; media attending to citizenship and consumerism
• The rise of commercialization and professionalism
• Journalists assumed multiple journalism identities:
• a) objective detachment; b) militant journalism; c) social
responsibility within the reality of a more market-driven media
• Old generation of journalists versus the “young ones”
• Media as politicized institutions still – balance in political reporting
contributed to diminish ideological biases towards centre-left-wing
politics and social issues during the presidential elections
Quotes from interviews
• “In 1989, all the mainstream press supported Collor
against Lula. And before that the press created the Collor
myth through Veja and TV Globo, etc. It was something
constructed to be an opposition to Lula...In the 1994
elections, although the mainstream press sponsored the
FHC candidature, it was not more a question of fearing
Lula, but the neo-liberal issue. The relationship with the
press was much more civilised..This was repeated in
1998 and 2002...”
• (Ricardo Kotscho, former FSP journalist, sworn as
press officer of Lula in 2003)
Quotes from interviews
• “O Globo was marked during the dictatorship by two
characteristics: it was a newspaper that supported the
military government and was accused of manipulating
news, and the second characteristic which was done on
purpose by Evandro in order to neutralize these critiques
was to make a newspaper which was strictly news based.
It published everything, was very newsworthy, and so it
turned into a newspaper that was indispensable to read.
This was the way that Evandro managed to compensate
the action of O Globo, which was very much an official
• (Merval Perreira, O Globo columnist and former director
of the newsroom)
Press freedom in Latin America and Brazil
• Lugo-Ocando (2008, 11) have correctly stressed how Latin America is
among the regions with the worst record in terms of journalists killed
• Various organisations, from the Inter American Press Association (SIP-
IAPA) to Reporters Without Borders, have pointed to the persistence
of problems of press liberty in the region in spite of the
improvements in the standards of political journalism and the growth
of the watchdog function and of political liberalisation.
• In a report on the situation of press liberty in the world in 2010, the
NGO Reporters Without Borders divided 175 countries into colours
which went from white (good) to black (serious). Brazil appeared in
light orange (sensitive problems or ‘relative liberty’).
• The country nonetheless does not reach the strong orange (difficult)
of other nations like Venezuela and Ecuador, distancing itself from
the black given to Saudi Arabia, but still far from enjoying full press
liberty of countries like Canada and Australia.
Professionalism and balance since 2002
• International journalism trends: rise of new technologies,
increase of cynical politics, human interest stories,
“infotainment” coverage and decline of coverage of “serious”
politics, challenges to the “objectivity regime” and rise of
interpretative forms of journalism (i.e. citizen journalism)
The Internet, citizen journalism and blogging:
the challenges to the mainstream media
• Question: Does the press help Brazilians construct a better country?
• In an age of increasing criticism to the objectivity regime in more
advanced democracies, why is it important to uphold these demands
for the mainstream media?
• Rise of blogging and citizen journalism in Brazil:
• The power of the Brazilian blogosphere as a counter-public sphere
and vehicle that contributes to boost media pluralism whilst
undermining media concentration has grown considerably
The Brazilian blogosphere as an avenue for
• Lima (2007) has argued that bloggers were already active during the
2006 elections, with the Internet offering a space for the articulation
of a discourse capable of going against or challenging the hegemony
that had been constructed in the mainstream media.
• Lima (2007) has defined the web’s role in political campaigning in
Brazil as having contributed to promote active niche circles of
debate. The Internet during the 2010 elections functioned as an
important tool to counter-weight the discourses articulated by the
• As Gibson and Ward (1999: 364) have most correctly signalled out,
‘...providing online channels for participation...is not the same as
empowering members’. Authors do recognise that the Internet can
make more of an impact in emerging democracies, including
destabilising one party regimes and serving as a counter-weight to
one-sided media discourses.
The Brazilian blogosphere and the Dilma 2010 campaign
• In early 2013, the Brazilian journalist blogger Rodrigo Vianna was
required to pay approx. 6.500 pounds) to the director-general of
Journalism and Sport from TV Globo, Ali Kamel, in response to a
humoristic critique made on the web.
• Blogging contradictorily arose as a significant force against the
partisanship of the mainstream media, at the same time that many
bloggers used the web to advocate particular causes or to defend
• This was the case of the group of bloggers who reacted against
perceived biases of newspapers like Folha de Sao Paulo in their
coverage of the presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff.
* More support for community radio, funding for segmented
media outlets and magazines
1) Building of a broadcasting regulatory framework
committed to the public interest and independent;
2) reinforcement of balance and professionalism in
newsrooms, including regulation of the journalism profession
and auto-regulation of the press;
3) Fortifying of the public media platform, TV, radio and the
Internet, followed by an engagement with the debate over
4) Strengthening of regional, local and alternative media
5) Wider access to less privileged sectors of the population to
the Internet throughout Latin America
• Dr. Carolina Matos
• Department of Sociology
• City University London
• E-mail: Carolina.Matos.firstname.lastname@example.org
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