Journalism cultures in the public sphere: alook at Brazilian economic journalismDr. Carolina MatosGovernment DepartmentUniversity of Essex
Core points• Latin American media systems versus Southern Europe• Journalism and political democracy in Brazil• The Brazilian media during the dictatorship• The Brazilian media today• The Brazilian economy during the military years• Economic versus political journalism in the contemporary years• Political and economic constraints on Brazilian journalism: the influence of international trends• Economic journalism in Brazil• Political journalism genres and coverage of elections from the direct elections campaign onwards• Conclusions
Comparing media systems: Southern Europeand 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.
Journalism and Political Democracy in Brazil• Historical and political context of Brazil: military dictatorship (1964-1985) imposed censorship and control on the press; fascist-inclined regime• Media were divided in regards to opening; certain sectors pressured for advancement (i.e. Folha in Direct Elections Campaign in 1984 versus resistance of TV Globo)• Four case studies of political and presidential elections campaigns since 1984, with the 2002 presidential elections consolidating political democracy• Complex role of markets; the transformation of the state
Daily newspapers and weekly magazines• Newspapers (500) • Magazines (1.485)• Folha de Sao Paulo (413.000 * Veja (1,1 million) in 2001) * Playboy (442.200)• Estado de Sao Paulo * Claudia (439.200) (364.000) * Superinteressante (380.700)• Extra (307.500) * Isto E (372.700)• O Dia (249.900) * Exame (181.300)• Jornal do Brasil (120.000)
Broadcasters and online media• Television • Online media(281 stations in 2001) (14 million Internet users)• TV Globo • Uol, AOL, IG, Globo.com• SBT• Record • Cable television• Rede TV! • Net Brasil & TVA• CNT • Satellite • Sky 7 DirecTV
The Brazilian media system during the dictatorship• Authoritarian regimes in Latin America• Brazilian media (1964-1985): a) Militant journalism and resistance in the alternative media b) Era of “enlightened” debate? c) Alignments of the mainstream media versus resistance of certain journalists and newspapers during specific periods (Matos, 2008)
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 1990’s.• Decade of the 90’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)
Latin American journalism and the media• 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.• This is a reversal from its previous rise in the 1990s (Waisbord, 2000) as a result of political liberalisation and demands of civil society for more governmental transparency and scrutiny from the media (i.e. Matos, 2008).• 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 differences. 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).
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 constraints and expanding media concentration and globalisation.• 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).
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 and wounded. 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.•
History and development of Brazilian journalism• 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. It can be characterised as being a blending or ‘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).• 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 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. These were largely done however 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.
The Brazilian economy in the post-dictatorship phase• Brazil experienced a slow transition away from political authoritarianism towards a gradual consolidation of representative liberal market democracy in the years before and after 1994, when Fernando Henrique Cardoso was elected president following the success of the real plan.• Mainly since the epoch of the “economic miracle” of the military regime years, economic plans have played a key part in the maintenance of governments, serving to legitimize authoritarian regimes and contributing to sustain the popularity of a government in the public’s eye independently of its ideological inclinations or its political authoritarianism.• The “economic miracle’’ years (1967-1973) were responsible for stimulating wider investments in diverse sectors, reducing the role of the public sector whilst boosting the private (Abreu, 2001). These years saw the expansion in capital, propriety and income concentration followed by the weakening of the negotiation power between unions and employees due to the limitations imposed on the right to go on strike. Such policies soon created an inflated economy.
The Brazilian economy in the post-dictatorship phase• The model of substituting imports for domestic goods created international debts and was responsible for much of the economic stagnation of the 1980’s. As we have seen, the Cruzado plan was only initially successful. Thus there was a lot of expectations in relation to the capacity of the real of combating inflation and for some, of actually redistributing wealth.• The real currency was tied to the dollar and was launched amid a propaganda campaign that contrasted this plan to previous ones, such as the failed Cruzado and the Collor II packages.• Economic analysts who examined the real’s legacy have emphasized how it brought economic stability to Brazil but at a cost of recession and loss of initial social gains. In the first two years of the plan, it was largely successful due to the drastic reduction of inflation that it had caused, interrupting the whole hyperinflation process of the last 30 years.
Economic journalism in Brazil• In 1999, the real was de-valuated after an agreement between the federal government and other state municipalities that it was necessary to make a fiscal sacrifice so as to secure its worth. The consequence was the continuity of high interest rates and the signing of another accord with the IMF, who initiated a program of recovery in Brazil.• The rise of a liberal free market economy in Brazil resulted in the development of the prestige of economic journalism. Kucinski (2000) has remarked that, since the monetary disorder of the 1970’s and expansion of the dollar culture, economic journalism has received a boost, becoming the main news theme in this century and leaving politics to occupy a secondary role.• According also to Abreu (2003), the conditions for the emergence of economic journalism in Brazil - which modelled itself on the North American experience and had the goal of covering the financial market and the business world - happened when the country started to see a steep rise in its economy during the 1970’s.
Economic journalism in Brazil: from the dictatorship to the contemporary years “Economic journalism was used as an instrument for the launch of the military regime’s economic policies” wrote Abreu (2001; 25).•In contrast still to political reporting, there seems to be less space forconflict in the coverage of economic news. This does not mean to say thateconomic journalism disengages political debate, and that it has not had animportant (political) role even in the advancement of democracy in Brazil.•Abreu (2001, 16) noted that it was in the pages of some financialsupplements, such as the economic pages of O Globo, that journalists startedto resist the dictatorship by questioning aspects of the economy. This wasbecause most of the political pages were the ones subject to censorship andstate surveillance.•This resulted in a decline in the coverage of political issues in contrast to theexpansion of economic themes, which were deemed to be safer to tackle thanthe more sensitive political ones, such as the lack of civil rights and freedomof expression.
Economic versus political journalism in Brazil in the contemporary years• Economic journalism trends were strengthened though more in the 1990’s amid the expansion of a series of market dynamics in newsrooms.• “Service journalism” acquired prestige in the last decade (Nassif, 2003). This journalism genre basically consists of discussions in the newspaper pages of the quality of products and the publication of consumers’ complaints concerning both commercial and public services.• However, during the post-dictatorship phase, it was mainly in the pages of the political supplements that debates concerning the future of the country were articulated (Matos, 2008)• In comparison to political reporting, economic news in Brazil has tended to be less critical and contradictory, favouring governmental and big- business sources and endorsing the economic liberal agenda. They thus reflect more these opinions than those of critical economic experts and unions (Nassif, 2003).
Origins and development of finance journalism in Brazil• Before the dictatorship, economic journalism appeared in the mainstream press in a more analytical and academic way and not as news directed to a wider public. There were many “commercial newspapers”, but they dealt with everything, from politics to sports, and were less specifically about finance• Economic journalism has its space since the start of the dictatorship in 1964• During that period, as Suely Caldas reminds us, the pressure was to report facts related to the “economic miracle” and the fall of inflation.• Economic journalism in Brazil was thus inserted in authoritarianism and emerged slowly, with the decade of the 1970s seeing the newspapers create a division in the newsroom to focus on the economy• With the country’s political opening from the mid-1980s onwards, this type of journalism saw an expansion, with the launch of economic supplements in the newspapers and the multiplication of magazine titles and dailies on the theme
Finance journalism in the aftermath of the dictatorship and international journalism trends• The evolution of economic journalism and its wider access to the public started in the context of the re-democratization of the country• With the economic reforms carried out by former president Fernando Collor in 1990, the wider public beyond the decision-making elites became more interested in the economy• Economic reporting in Brazil has also followed similar international patterns of “infotainment” and “dumbing down” which has affected all serious news• There is a wide use of graphics, images and language aimed at simplifying the topic• News since the 1980s has been subject to increasing economic pressures, i.e. the merging of giant media conglomerates, growing media concentration (in Brazil around 10 families control the main media groups); the power of shareholders over the media companies has increased and public service broadcasting and media are experiencing a “crisis”.
Economics pressures on the reporting of finance news• Economic journalism in Brazil faces similar problems to those of more advanced democracies like the UK when it comes to the constraints placed on the reporting of finance• This includes the dependency on official governmental and business sources and on those who are not too critical of the economic orthodoxy (as we shall see in Brazil in regards to the Real Plan), understood as a philosophy that prioritises the reduction of the state, inflation control, cuts in public spending and the de-regulation of the banking sector• In the context of the economic recession that emerged in 2008, the Queen even asked LSE academics when she went there for an inauguration of a building if “none of them had seen it coming….”• Contrary to political journalism, the fact of the matter is that voices critical to the economic orthodoxy in Brazil, perhaps until the election of Lula, were hardly heard in the mainstream media, and were seen as dissidents and marginalised from debate.
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 Matta, 1979).• 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 programmes.
Conclusions• Political journalism has had an ambiguous role in the post-dictatorship phase in Brazil, shifting from being heavily censored to serving as a public sphere of debate of contradictory and conflicting policies and visions for the country• Economic journalism also saw a growth with the countries embracement of neo-liberal policies from the 1990’s onwards• Multiple journalism cultures in the newsroom in the post-dictatorship phase:• Journalism cultures in the newsroom became more blurred, with a decline of the militant and “romantic” journalist of the 1970s and a growth of professionalism, objectivity and social responsibility values in the media• Having said that, the examination of the period from 1985 to 2002, as well as during the elections of 2006 and 2010, have shown that the media continue to be partisan, with professionalism still being weak• Media reforms are currently being discussed to boost media pluralism, undermine concentration and fortify public communication structures
Thank you! • Dr. Carolina Matos • Government Department • University of Essex • E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org• http://essex.academia.edu/CarolinaMatos
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