The Folha de São Paulo, Phreaked by Leak, Does Not Regret the Error

The Estadão and Folha de S. Paulo on the infamous “mountain of money” photo, leaked by federal police agent Edmilson "Bruno Surfistinha" Bruno. Click to zoom. Folha: “Photos show dossier money.” Estado: “PT tries to prevent publication, sues to impugn Alckmin candidacy.” The Estadão headline had the virtue of reporting on the events behind the photo, note. Photos: Lula looking like a garden gnome, as shown in the Folha, in the Estado, is shown side by side with Alckmin (PSDB) being kissed by a preto velho archetype. Source: CartaCapital.

Folha ignora ombudsman e manual no caso Cisco: The Folha de S. Paulo ignores its ombudsman and its manual in the Cisco case, writes Ricardo Kauffmann of Terra Magazine (Brazil) on November 23.

A follow-up to

To make a long story short, the Folha had reported that the PT (Workers’ Party) received a donation in exchange for which a Cisco reseller allegedly had a competitive bidding process rigged in its favor.

It sourced this information to “the Federal Police.”

This reporting was wrong on two counts:

  1. The federal police issued a press release denying it was the source of the information, which remains under seal by court order, and said it would discipline the source of the leak.
  2. The company in question lost the auction which the Folha reported was rigged in its favor.

Did the Folha de S. Paulo issue a correction?

No.

This is why I do not buy the Folha.

Not because it takes a conservative editorial line. If you are a serious student of contemporary Brazil, you need to be in touch with conservative opinion — of the left and right. I read everything from Vermelho and A Hora do Povo to the Estadão and Valor Econômico.

Personally, I prefer news and opinion written for the silent moderate majority, but I try to read a bit of everything, to get an idea of the shape of things.

But this is not the first time the Folha has disinformed me, scandalously:

There are not enough hours in the day or years in a lifetime for me to get all worked up about nonexistent facts.

Nonexistent facts are worthless. I refuse to pay to read them.

It’s a shame: The Folha has some fine journalists. It’s just that they do not get promoted to management, apparently.

Kaufmann, whose bio identifies him as a “journalist and screenwriter” (What has he written? Anything I have seen?):

Diante do desmentido, o ombudsman do jornal, Mário Magalhães, se pronunciou a respeito logo na segunda-feira, dia 19, mesmo dia da publicação da nota da PF. Ele escreveu o seguinte, na sua coluna diária (publicada apenas na internet):

Given this denial, the newspaper’s ombudsman, Mário Magalhães, commented on the matter on November 19, the same day the federal police response ran. He wrote as follows, in his daily column (which is published only on the Internet).

Portanto, a Folha baseia suas denúncias em vazamento de informações da Operação Persona, passadas “off the record”. A investigação corre sob segredo de justiça.

Thus, the Folha was basing its charges on information leaked from Operation Persona, passed to it “off the record.” The investigation continues under seal.

No entanto, isso não é noticiado ao leitor. A ele, o jornal afirma que é da Polícia Federal a informação segundo a qual a Cisco doou dinheiro ao PT via laranjas.

The reader, however, is not informed of this. The reader is told that the information that Cisco donated to the PT through “fronts” is from the Federal Police.

Informações captadas “off the record” são válidas, desde que tomadas as devidas precauções e cruzamentos, como reza o bom jornalismo. Assim como o leitor tem o direito de saber se o que está lendo é uma informação oficial ou extra-oficial.

“Off the record” information is valid so long as due diligence and corroboration are applied to it, as good journalism demands. Likewise, the reader has the right to know whether what he or she is reading is official or extraofficial information.

Sucede que, neste último caso, a informação ainda pode não se confirmar, como já ocorreu tantas vezes – e inclusive aconteceu neste próprio caso Cisco, como veremos adiante.

It happens that in the latter case, the information cannot be confirmed, as has happened many times before — and happened in the Cisco case as well, as we shall see later on.

O manual da Folha expressa o mesmo. Sobre a utilização do off, a edição de 1998 (a mais recente) diz o seguinte: O off “pode ser publicado (…) com indicação explícita de que se trata de informação ainda não confirmada”.

The editorial manual of the Folha takes the same view. On the use of “off the record” sources, the 1998 edition (the most recent) says the following: “The ‘off’ can published … provided it explicitly indicates that this is unconfirmed information.”

Em outro trecho, completa: se a “informação em off for cruzada com o outro lado ou com pelo menos duas outras fontes independentes (…) deve aparecer sob a forma ‘A Folha apurou que…'”. Convenhamos, trata-se de algo bem diferente de publicar: “disse a PF”.

And in another passage, quoted in its entirety: if the “off-the-record information is checked with the other side of the issue or corroborated with least two independent sources, it should be published in the form, ‘the Folha discovered that …'” And we can agree that this quite different than publishing: “the federal police said.”

Mesmo com os apontamentos de Magalhães, o uso do off neste caso permanecia ocultado pela Folha até ontem, como notou a crítica diária do próprio ombudsman: “Mais uma vez: a PF não diz nada, oficialmente cala sobre as investigações”.

Even with the observations made by Magalhães, the use of the “off” in this case was concealed by the Folha until the ombudsman again commented on the case: “Once more: The federal police said nothing; officially, it is is remaining silent about the investigations.”

O jornal, segundo seu próprio representante dos leitores, faz ainda outra omissão no caso Cisco, igualmente importante:

The newspaper, according to its own public editor, is also omitting another, equally important, fact about the Cisco case:

“Até agora inexiste comprovação ou mesmo indícios documentados de que a contribuição tenha tido como contrapartida o favorecimento em contrato com a CEF – suspeita de policiais federais relatada pela Folha”, registrou Magalhães. Portanto, a fonte que a Folha tanto confia, neste caso, falhou.

“To this point, there is no evidence, or even documented indications, that the campaign donation was made as a quid pro quo for favorable treatment on a contract with the Caixa Econômica Federal — the suspicion of some federal agents relayed by the Folha,” Magalhães reitered. For that reason, the source in which the Folha placed so much faith has failed it.

Pelo que se depreende das matérias do jornal, a CEF teria modificado um edital de concorrência para favorecer a Damovo (empresa ligada à Cisco), o que não teria acontecido de fato. “Como se soube ontem, a alteração diz respeito a um leilão que a Damovo perdeu”, acrescentou o Ombudsman. “A Folha deve uma correção”, completou.

According to the Folha, the CEF supposedly modified the terms of the competition to favor Damovo (a company with ties to Cisco), which did not, in fact, occur. “As we learned yesterday, the alteration of terms occurred in an auction which Damovo lost,” the ombudsman noted. “The Folha owes a correction,” he concluded.

Assim como no caso do “off de record”, Magalhães registrou ontem a insistência da Folha em não fazer retificação: “o jornal segue sem corrigir a informação da segunda-feira que não se confirmou, sobre a mudança no edital”.

As in the case of the “off the record,” Magalhães noted the Folha’s insistence on not issuing a correction: “The newspaper has not yet corrected the report from Monday, which was not confirmed, about the change in the terms of the competition.”

Sobre retificações, o manual do jornal diz: “A Folha retifica, sem eufemismos, os erros que comete. A retificação deve ser publicada assim que a falha for constatada”.

On corrections, the newspaper’s editorial manual states: “The Folha corrects, without euphemisms, the errors it commits. The correction should be published as soon as the error is verified.”

Recursos benignos, o Manual de Redação (que há quase dez anos não é atualizado) e o Ombudsman não estão sendo levados em consideração neste caso, pelo que se vê.

These helpful resources, the Manual (which has not been updated for a decade) and the Ombudsman, are not being listened to in this case, it seems.

Se a direção do jornal discorda de Mário Magalhães tanto no caso do “off”, como no favorecimento à Damovo, porque não envia a ele uma “resposta da redação”, como é usual?

If newspaper management disagrees with Magalhães in both cases, why not send him a “response from the newsroom,” as is customary?

Curioso notar que contra o PT pesam outras informações – publicadas pelas mesmas matérias da Folha – muito graves, porém não destacadas pelo jornal, e que até aqui não mereceram apuração detalhada.

It is curious to note that there is other information that reflects unfavorably on the PT — published in the same articles — that is very serious, but not highlighted by the newspaper, and have not to date merited a detailed treatment.

De janeiro a setembro deste ano (exercício sem eleições), o partido arrecadou R$ 6,22 milhões. Quantia apenas inferior aos dois últimos períodos de eleições presidenciais…

From January to September of this year (a non-election year), the party raised R$6.22 million. An amount inferior only to the last two election years.

Uma matéria amplamente apurada, com diversas fontes e todos os lados – quem sabe da própria Folha – seria muito bem-vinda. Que fique claro que o PT deve ser amplamente fiscalizado pela imprensa, na mesma medida que os demais principais partidos. Dentro das regras cívicas que conferem à imprensa função de atender ao interesse público.

A thorough report, with a variety of sources from all sides of the issue — the Folha itself might even do the story — would be welcome. The PT should be closely monitored by the press, in the same measure that other parties are. Within the rules of civic responsibility that confer upon the press the function of looking out for the public interest.

Quando o jornalismo infringe os próprios limites são os leitores e a sociedade os mais desrespeitados.

When journalism infringes on the limits it establishes for itself, readers and society are the main losers.


The photo behind the “mountain of money” scandal in Brazil, leaked by Bruno. Commented one reporter, caught on tape negotiating the source’s (phony) cover story — “I will tell my boss that some reporter must have stolen it from me; those reporters, you can’t trust ’em” — as others laughed it up, “Wow, that’s totally fucking sleazy.”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s