Brazil: “Digital Update for Última Hora”

Última Hora
“Quadros is out and Jango is in!”

Libraries must be public because democracy presupposes that access to information be public. But today, a lot of information is not found in books. It is found in televised images. We need to find a way to construct databases of video images. The wealth of vintage Brazilian TV on YouTube is often remarked upon these days — including, for example, Brizola’s famous “right of reply” message to the Globo network, which has been viewed tens of thousands of times. Such databanks exist, but are more or less precarious and are all private, which is to say, closed. If someone wanted to review what the Jornal Nacional reported yesterday, they would have some difficulty. If they wanted to see what was reported a year ago, it would be well nigh impossible. It’s gone. It vanished into thin air. Thinking of a way to store TV and making this archive part of the public domain is an urgent task, therefore, although an expensive proposition, but it is a right of the TV viewer. –Eugênio Bucci. See Brazil: The Boobs Talk Back to the Tube.

Newspapers have absolutely no need of institutional memory. — a Portuguese (from Portugal) content manager, cited in “The Adjective Kills”: A Sonnet From the Portuguese.

When a TV Globo reporter was arrested on charges that he moonlighted as a spy for the gambling mafia — tipping it off to law enforcement plans to move against it, based on information he got from his journalistic sources — Globo apparently expunged any reference to the man’s previous career from Globo.com.

A scandalous legal and ethical breach alongside which the Jayson Blair case at the New York Times looks like an old E.B. White column in the New Yorker in which “it’s” is erroneously used instead of “its” as the possessive form of the pronoun.

That is, I could find no reference to José Messias Xavier there when I checked. Not one. I should probably check again.

The Estadão — my own preferred daily journal of conservative-leaning opinion and metropolitan governance news for South America’s most humongous megalopolis, with occasional demurrers — does at least seem to have a consistent and principled interest in setting the historical record straight, and keeping it straight, I tend to find. See for example

Renato Cruz of the Estado de S. Paulo (Brazil) reports:

O Arquivo Público do Estado de São Paulo fechou uma parceria com a AMD, fabricante de microprocessadores, para digitalizar o jornal Última Hora, e tornar seu conteúdo disponível na internet. A publicação foi criada em 1951, no Rio de Janeiro, e circulou até 1971. A primeira etapa do projeto, com seis meses de duração, vai transformar em bits 36 mil páginas, que correspondem a 60 meses de jornal.

The Public Archive of the State of São Paulo has closed a deal to partner with AMD, the microprocessor manufacturer, to digitalize the Última Hora newspaper and make its content available on the Internet.

Sort of like the digital Brooklyn Eagle made available through Brooklyn Public Library back home.

For a comparable recent deal here in São Paulo, see the SUN-IBM partnership with the Cardoso Foundation to digitalize the former president’s (scandalously semiprivatized, critics charge) presidential papers.

The digitalization project is interesting in and of itself, from a tech-geek and business point of view, but the foundation was also roundly criticized for accepting donations from the state-owned sewer company, headed by an alleged political crony of Cardoso’s:

The publication was founded in 1951 in Rio and circulated until 1971. The first phase of the project will last six months and scan 36,000 pages, corresponding to 60 months worth of daily issues.

That is, five years.

The Piratininga Group, in an article on the mass media and the 1964 coup, recalls some of the history of the paper, which pitted itself against Lacerda’s Tribuna da Imprensa:

A utilização dos jornais era um elemento central. A Tribuna da Imprensa de 2 de agosto de 1954 gritava na primeira capa: “Somos um povo honrado governado por ladrões”. Referia-se a casos de corrupção na administração federal. Vargas também tinha um jornal para defendê-lo. Com ajuda financeira oficial, o Última Hora saía em defesa do presidente. No mesmo dia, a manchete do jornal getulista era “Esta semana o aumento para os servidores do Estado”. Nenhuma linha sobre as denúncias de corrupção feitas pelo jornal rival. O clima esquentava.

Newspapers played a crucial [in attempted coups prior to 1964.] The Tribuna of August 2, 1954 screamed from its front page: “We are an honest people governed by thieves!” It was referring to cases of corruption in the federal administration. Vargas also had a newspaper to defend him. With official financial support, Última Hora sallied out to defend the president. On the same day, the Getulist newspaper’s headline was “This week, a salary raise for public employees.” Not a line about the corruption charges made by its rival. The climate was heating up.

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The day the Tammany men got their greasy hands on the proud independent city of Brooklyn: The Eagle — once edited by Walt Whitman — waxes Greco-Deco on the birth of the Four — later, Five, with the inexplicable annexation of Staten Island — Boroughs.

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