The Media Empire Bows to Blogs

Originally published at Global Voices Online

There is something very different going on in the Brazilian media arena. It all started a week ago with a cover story published in the magazine Carta Capital, headlined: The Plot Which Led to the Second Round. The magazine is known as a ‘leftist stronghold’ and, with a modest circulation of 65,000, it normally functions to leverage for more balance in the political coverage performed by the mainstream media. The unusual comes from the attention that the article has attracted from the blogosphere, and how the debate has pushed the powerful Globo TV network and its executive editor of journalism to enter the online debate in order to post its counterclaims against the article.

Dinheiro do dossieOn the tragic Friday afternoon that GOL Flight 1907 — which was expected to arrive in Brasilia at 6:12pm — plunged into the Amazon forest with 154 people aboard, this was not the important story in the Brazilian broadcast media. With two days left to the first round of the presidential election, the widely viewed Globo Network nightly news program Jornal Nacional placed greatest emphasis on showing pictures of the money captured by the Federal Police in the alleged election scandal called dossiergate. Strange as it seems, this news program which aired at 8pm did not say a word about the crash, and Brazilians were startled to be informed about the country’s greatest airline tragedy by cable CNN.

The story that Carta Capital’s reporter Raimundo Rodrigues Pereira tells in an exquisite narrative is how Officer Edmilson Bruno of the Federal Police illegally took pictures of the money and distributed them to journalists from Folha de São Paulo, Estado de São Paulo and O Globo newspapers and to the radio station Jovem Pan on the morning of that same Friday. The existence of an audio file of the conversation where the police officer demands of the journalists that the pictures of the money be shown on that night’s edition of Jornal Nacional was mentioned in Carta Capital’s article, and an actual copy of the recording was leaked to YouTube earlier this week.

Carta Capital’s story showed how Globo Journalism was an accomplice to officer Bruno — who on election eve took pictures of the money captured with PT partisans almost two weeks ago — afterwards demanding the broadcasting of the images in Jornal Nacional and urging the journalists to lie about the source of the pictures in order to clear himself in front of his superiors (as well as committing other unlawful acts like perceptibly confessing the political motive of his doings).
Globo’s Homer Simpson have his turn from Observatorio da Imprensa readersO Biscoito Fino e a Massa
The magazine tells in detail how the media managed to conceal information about how officer Edmilson Pereira Bruno obtained and imparted to the journalists the pictures of the money captured with two PT partisans in a hotel in Sao Paulo. Bruno all but confessed his criminal acts with the reporters, declaring he would simulate a robbery to explain the leak of the pictures to the press. Although the confession had been recorded without the officer’s knowledge, no media outlet has published anything about it. Some — like Folha and Estadao — have produced pieces trying to exonerate him for leaking the pictures.
Scandal: Magazine reveals press artifice to harm Lula and the PT‡‡ † †๑۩۞۩๑. ‡‡ † † aNjO_fuNEraLS © ²ºº6† † ‡‡ ๑۩۞۩๑.‡‡ † †
The media outlets involved in the denouncement should hastily elucidate the accusations. It is impossible to remain in this sepulchral silence, ignoring the most serious, grounded and discrediting accusations of the media in years. Yes, it’s true that the government owes some explanations to the public. But in the same way, the media also should be accountable over its actions. One thing is being free, which is healthy for a democracy, another very different thing is to put itself above good and bad. This only harms credibility.
Carta Capital denounces journalists and media outletsImprensa Marrom


During the week
, the pressure from the blogosphere on the big guys kept growing. The bloggers hosted on big portals like UOL, Globo, Estadao and Terra were not mentioning the issue, but their comments sections were exploding with requests from readers.

Oh readers, those readers. Better not to read them. But without reading them, how can one know them? … Let’s talk about this pressure for me to comment on Carta Capital’s report here. First, if you already read it, what is the need for it to be commented on or published here? Some think that I get compelled by this pressure. I confess that I did not read it but I am aware of the issue… I’ve been working for 20 years in one of the enterprises of Globo Organizations. I therefore know well my work place and can testify about the company’s editorial stance… But hypothetically let’s admit that the report is true. What attitude should I have? The first and only one would be to resign from the job conceding the impossibility of working with dignity in the company. But never, ever would I use the company’s tools to criticize it. That would be despicable. That would be sabotage.
Conversa na madrugada com o leitorBlog do Moreno
The 67 thousand copies of ‘Carta Capital’ do not compare with the numbers of the big magazines and newspapers. But each copy with Raimundo’s report will keep afloat in the air, a warning about what happens to journalists and periodicals that put their passions and interests above its journalistic principles.
Requiem of JournalismLuis Nassif Online


Six days after
the appearance of Carta Capital’s story — in the middle of a schizophrenic media situation where blogs were debating hotly the issue while the portals were solemnly silent — came the big surprise. The executive editor of journalism of Globo TV, Ali Kamel, published a long response to Carta Capital at the Observatorio da Imprensa. In a text full of quotations and detailed comparisons, the executive journalist focused mainly on contradicting the magazine’s accusation that Jornal Nacional intentionally delayed the delivery of information about the airplane accident in order to maximize the impact the pictures might make on the outcome of the election. Nevertheless, as one blogger mentions, content rather than circumstance was the perceived story.

From everything that was written in The Plot That Led to the Second Round, last week’s Carta Capital’s cover story (n. 415 10/18/2006), the most fanciful insinuation is that one about Gol’s 1907 flight accident. The magazine asserts that, in the September 29 Jornal Nacional edition, the electoral section showing the pictures of PT’s money was almost the only story. Afterwards, with the evidence that the news program did not report the plane accident, the magazine asks: “Was the channel ‘punctured’, as we say in the journalistic jargon, or did it decide to concentrate efforts on what appeared to be more important?” TV news like Jornal Nacional, the absolute voice of record for its audience, builds its reputation in this way: with correct reports, without spreading panic in the country. To announce that an airplane ‘could be’ lost, without mentioning the flight number or the route is like spreading panic to thousands of houses throughout the country. We would not do that. We won’t do that. Even if we had confirmed the information before the end of the program, it would be only a note because everybody in TV knows that it is impossible to produce rich material with the show nearing the end, and this was an issue demanding big movements.
TV Globo contesta Carta Capital
Ali Kamel in Observatório da Imprensa
Hey people, the police officer’s political intention is not relevant. This only shows he is a pretentious guy being used by someone. … The pictures were not published because the officer wanted it that way. In spite of the bullshit he spoke, the pictures were published because they were important information. End of story. The defense of the officer by the journalists, presenting him as a detached character even after being uncovered — this was an error. But the main point of the article, the conspiracy, is not confirmed. Or are you gonna tell me that one of the conspiracy participants has recorded it all and delivered the audio to the public?
The officerBlog do Ilimar Franco


After Ali Kamel’s post at OI
, the portals started to mention the existence of the recording and Globo published a complete version at G1, its new news portal. His post was immediately flooded with comments and one might speculate that the media empire’s gesture of coming down to the marketplace of the people’s conversation empowered the Brazilian blogosphere into a new level of significance.

This was the day when Goliath the giant conceded — by its ‘free’ and ’spontaneous’ ‘will’ — to challenge little David:Globo TV contests Carta Capital (with a special and delicious attention also to David’s David: your Excellency in the reader’s comment box. WOW!)
Comment in Sliding by InterlandPedro Alexandre Sanches
The single fact of Mr. Ali Kamel coming down from his pedestal to try to justify himself on something is a clear indication of the damage done to the Globo Network reputation by the good cover story from the honest magazine Carta Capital. A very interesting phenomenon which deserves some attention from this Observatory is the role played by the Internet as a debate forum and a reaction channel to the media self-indulgence. I believe that Globo Network’s editors are more cautious right now, trying to draft some fantasized editorial, full of pomp, to be delivered by the seized face of an impeccable Willian Bonner (news anchor) during a Jornal Nacional program. The fact is that the harm is done. Globo Network has reasons to be worried. The average Brazilian is becoming more aware of politics and the Internet is expanding as an information channel.
Alexandre Jogaib , Rio de janeiro-RJ – Contador
Comment in TV Globo contesta Carta CapitalAli Kamel in Observatório da Imprensa
Caramba! This is a great happening on the net. I just opened a bottle of wine while I appreciate all these comments. Cheers to all of you, and to our right to honest information and expression.
Pedro Agilson , Rio de Janeiro-RJ – fotógrafo
Comment in TV Globo contesta Carta CapitalAli Kamel in Observatório da Imprensa
The exchange between blogs and the big media is refreshing. It’s renewing, at least. In these election times the media got caught in a mess of denunciations, and this week it lost part of its credibility to the blogs. After all, an individual tends to feel like an idiot while hearing journalists getting together with a Police officer to format the version of the facts the audience should swallow. The conversation on the cuff between the officer Edmilson Bruno and some reporters is available at Paulo Henrique Amorim’s blog and also on You Tube. Complicated as it is, the case may not be attractive to readers not so interested in politics. However, this is a clear example of how the dynamics between blogs and big media has the power of renewing the delivery of information.
Hear on blogs what you don’t see on the mediaanacarmen.com


It is important to note
that at this time many opinion polls are showing successively larger leads for Lula in the run-off that will be decided on October 29. Nevertheless, today’s Jornal Nacional is still reporting heavily on the investigations about the money used by PT partisans to buy a dossier incriminating the now elected governor of Sao Paulo Jose Serra in the ambulance scandal. But it’s really strange there is no reporting about the possible wrongdoings of PSDB partisans alleged in the dossier, and that nothing is mentioned about the fact that 70% of the overpriced ambulances were acquired when Serra was in charge of the Health Ministery during Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s government. In this mudslide of media portrayals of scandals in the final days of the campaign, some commentators are starting to see the Internet as the best way for Lula to reshape the media environment in his second term.

Lula’s government did not confront Globo Network during the first term, and it won’t do it in the second. Lula’s relation with Globo is the same of Tony Blair’s with Murdoch (no comments…) And Roosevelt’s solution — to make a technological leap — is most applicable: Use the Internet. It’s Lula’s government that needs most to overcome the digital divide. The government information websites or those from institutions connected with the government on the Internet are made with a PT-like awkwardness. In a general overview, governments, parties (excepting PCdoB) and Brazilian politicians (excepting Cesar Maia and Jose Dirceu) don’t know how to use the Internet. It is the only space readily available for Lula’s government – if he is to be elected.
How to govern when ALL the media is againstPaulo Henrique Amorim
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