Sheffield Presentation Media and governance in Latin America


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Sheffield Presentation Media and governance in Latin America

  1. 1. “Media and governance in Latin America” – University of Sheffield Dr. Carolina Matos Lecturer in Sociology Department of Sociology City University London E-mail:
  2. 2. The media, journalism and politics
  3. 3. Core points • 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 • Conclusions
  4. 4. 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.
  5. 5. 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)
  6. 6. Daily newspapers and weekly magazines • Newspapers (500) • Folha de Sao Paulo (413.000 in 2001) • Estado de Sao Paulo (364.000) • 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)
  7. 7. Broadcasters and online media • Television (281 stations in 2001) • TV Globo • SBT • Record • Rede TV! • CNT • Online media (14 million Internet users) • Uol, AOL, IG, • Cable television • Net Brasil & TVA • Satellite • Sky 7 DirecTV
  8. 8. 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.
  9. 9. 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 departments • 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
  10. 10. Journalism in Latin America and Brazil
  11. 11. Latin American broadcasting has adopted US model • TV in many Latin American countries has developed following the US commercial model • 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.
  12. 12. 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 concentration. • 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).
  13. 13. Latin American journalism and the US influence • 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).
  14. 14. 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 (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.
  15. 15. 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.
  16. 16. 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
  17. 17. 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
  18. 18. 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.
  19. 19. 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 rationales • 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 environment • 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
  20. 20. 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)
  21. 21. 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 one.” • (Merval Perreira, O Globo columnist and former director of the newsroom)
  22. 22. 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. •
  23. 23. 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)
  24. 24. 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
  25. 25. The Brazilian blogosphere as an avenue for empowerment • 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 mainstream press. • As Gibson and Ward (1999: 364) have most correctly signalled out, ‘...providing online channels for 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.
  26. 26. 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 particular candidates. • 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.
  27. 27. Some conclusions * * 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 “quality” 4) Strengthening of regional, local and alternative media 5) Wider access to less privileged sectors of the population to the Internet throughout Latin America
  28. 28. Thank you! • Dr. Carolina Matos • Department of Sociology • City University London • • E-mail: