Brazil: Veja Rebuts Nassif, In Brief

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Brazilians rate the performance of their press low, in terms of “honest and accuracy,” according to the BBC-Synovate survey in question. They rate the relative priority of press freedom and social stability about the same, with a slight edge to the latter. Brazil is among those countries where respondents tended to find their news media lacking in accuracy and impartiality.
Some 80% believe concentrated media ownership tends to distort news reporting in favor of commercial interests and political factions.

Luis Nassif’s broaside against the “antijournalism” practiced at Veja magazine” has now been posted in its entirely on the Web site of the Observatório da Imprensa, along with Veja‘s response to the series of articles, reproduced in its entirety:

“A Editora Abril, responsável pela publicação da revista Veja, repudia veementemente as informações divulgadas no blog do jornalista Luis Nassif nos dias 18/12/2007, 10/1 e 11/1/2008.

“The Editora Abril, which publishes Veja magazine, vehemently repudiates the information published on the Web log of journalist Luis Nassif on December 18, 2007 and January 10-11, 2007.”

Does that mean it repudiates reports that the “Radar” column published what Nassif said it published about clients of Eduardo Fischer, and Fischer himself?

“Ao contrário do que quer fazer crer Luis Nassif, o jornalismo praticado pela revista Veja jamais esteve mancomunado com os interesses alheios à postura adequada de órgão informativo ético. A revista Veja sempre postou-se pelo exercício de um jornalismo honesto, sério e imparcial, portanto, bastante contrário às acusações descabidas de Nassif.” [2/2/2008]

“Unlike what Nassif would like you to believe, the journalism practiced by Veja magazine has never colluded with interests not consistent with the appropriate posture of an ethical provider of information. Veja has always been committed to the exercise of honest, serious and impartial journalism, and thus, is quite unlike the unfounded accusations of Nassif.”

Not.

Please.

I have actually read this gabbling, viciously slanted, on many occasions either fabricated or else recklessly careless with the facts, nonsense, you know.

See, for example

The tortured wording of that statement I have a hard time getting my head around.

“… has never colluded with the interests that are inimical to the appropriate posture of an ethical information agency.”

Does that mean it has, or may have, colluded with the interests it does not consider inimical to the appropriate posture of an ethical information agency?

In other words: “We only apply the art of the anonymously sourced, uncorroborated gabbling ratfink against people and organizations who truly deserve it”?

I am translating the thing in chunks, as I have time. At some point, it might be worth polishing up the translation and publishing it to Googlepages, without all the unnecessary commentary.

It begins with the title, “Politics, business, and the neocon style.”

O maior fenômeno de antijornalismo dos últimos anos foi o que ocorreu com a revista Veja. Gradativamente, o maior semanário brasileiro foi se transformando em um pasquim sem compromisso com o jornalismo, recorrendo a ataques desqualificadores contra quem atravessasse seu caminho, envolvendo-se em guerras comerciais e aceitando que suas páginas e sites abrigassem matérias e colunas do mais puro esgoto jornalístico.

The most signficant development in the realm of antijournalism in recent years has been what has happened to Veja magazine. Gradually, the largest Brazilian newsweekly was transformed into [a pamphleteering little scandal rag] without the slightest commitment to journalism, launching personal attacks on anyone who crossed it, getting involved in commercial disputes and allowing its pages and Web sites to host articles and columns of the purest journalistic trash.

Esgoto = ‘sewage’

Para entender o que se passou com a revista nesse período, é necessário juntar um conjunto de peças.

To understand what happened to the magazine during this period, we need to put together a number of different pieces.

O primeiro, são as mudanças estruturais que a mídia vem atravessando em todo mundo.

The first are structural changes that the media has been going through all over the world.

O segundo, a maneira como esses processos se refletiram na crise política brasileira e nas grandes disputas empresariais, a partir do advento dos banqueiros de negócio que sobem à cena política e econômica na última década.

The second is the way in which these processes have been reflected in the political crisis in Brazil and in major business disputes, beginning with the advent of the commercial bankers who came on the political and economic scene in the last decade.

A terceira, as características específicas da revista Veja, e as mudanças pelas quais passou nos últimos anos.

The third involves the specific characteristics of Veja, and the changes it has undergone in recent years.

O estilo neocon

The neoconservative style

“Style.”

De um lado, há fenômenos gerais, que modificaram profundamente a imprensa mundial nos últimos anos. A linguagem ofensiva, herança dos “neocons” americanos foi adotada por parte da imprensa brasileira, como se fosse a última moda.

On one hand, there are general trends that have profoundly altered the press worldwide in recent years. Offensive language, an inheritance from the American “neocons,” has been adopted by the Brazilian press as though it were the latest fashion.

I sometimes wonder whether it was not, in fact, the American neocon wing nuts who borrowed their rhetorical stylings from the banana-republican press.

Who ultimately got their direction from the likes of Edward Bernays.

Because really, these people make Rush Limbaugh look like Walter freaking Cronkite.

I often think of that issue of Veja I bought a few years ago in which the password for Web access by purchasers of the print edition was NOVOLACERDA (“the new Lacerda.”)

It was. I swear. A more open declaration of intentions it could not have made. It even made a sort of inside joke out of it.

We should all put our heads together and try to puzzle out just exactly what this “neocon style” really consists of, in detail, and where it comes from.

(Headlines from the 1970s about Salvador Allende’s plans to ship white bourgeois babies to Soviet Russia for brainwashing come immediately to mind.)

Durante todos os anos 90, Veja havia desenvolvido um estilo jornalístico onde campeavam alusões a defeitos físicos, agressões e manipulação de declarações de fonte. Quando o estilo “neocon” ganhou espaço nos EUA, não foi difícil à revista radicalizar seu próprio estilo.

Throughout the 1990s, Veja had developed a journalistic style featuring references to the physical defects of persons, aggressive attacks, and the manipulation of statements from sources. When the “neocon” style gained space in the U.S., it was not difficult for the magazine to radicalize its own style.

Um segundo fenômeno desse período foi a identificação de uma profunda antipatia da chamada classe média mídiatica em relação ao governo Lula, fruto dos escândalos do “mensalão”, do deslumbramento inicial dos petistas que ascenderam ao poder, agravado por um forte preconceito de classe. Esse sentimento combinava com a catarse proporcionada pelo estilo “neocon”. Outros colunistas utilizaram com talento – como Arnaldo Jabor –, nenhum com a fúria grosseira com que Veja enveredou pelos novos caminhos jornalísticos.

A second phenomon during this period was the identification of a profound antipathy by the so-called media “middle class” to the Lula government, a product of the “big allowance” scandal, and the initial luster the PT enjoyed upon gaining power, aggravated by powerful class prejudice. These sentiments combined with the sort of catharsis provided by the “neocon” style. Other columnists used it was some talent — such as Arnaldo Jabor — but none with the crude fury with which Veja set out to blaze new journalistic trails.

Jabor gets a pass from a lot of people because of his history as a playwright and filmmaker, but I cannot abide the man and pretty much ignore anything he has to say.

I mean, I am a huge fan of David Mamet as a literary lion, but do I really want him occupying Eric Sevareid’s old seat at CBS?

Most of the time, art is art and life is life. Facts are facts and fiction is fun. Não brinco no serviço. That sort of thing.
Nassif’s brief remarks on the journalism of “catharsis” are interesting. More on those later. I am always glad to see Aristotle’s Poetics getting its due. Two millenia later and still an awfully good read, that.

O jornalismo e os negócios

Journalism and business

Outro fenômeno recorrente – esse ainda nos anos 90 – foi o da terceirização das denúncias e o uso de notas como ferramenta para disputas empresariais e jurídicas.

Another recurring phenomenon — still in the 1990s — was the outsourcing of [scandalous accusations] and the use of news items as [weapons] in business and legal disputes.

A marketinização da notícia, a falta de estrutura e de talento para a reportagem tornaram muitos jornalistas meros receptadores de dossiês preparados por lobistas.

The invasion of news by marketing, and the lack of infrastructure and journalistic talent, turned many journalists into mere recipients of dossiers ginned up by lobbyists.

Marketinização: ungainly New World Lusophone neologism of the week! I am going to invent a new cocktail — cachaça de alembique, a dash of licor de jaboticaba, and a touch of prosecco, serveed in a martini glass, with a twist — and call it the Marketini.

Ao longo de toda a década, esse tipo de jogo criou uma promiscuidade perigosa entre jornalistas e lobistas. Havia um círculo férreo, que afetou em muitos as revistas semanais. E um personagem que passou a cumprir, nas redações, o papel sujo antes desempenhado pelos repórteres policiais: os chamados repórteres de dossiês.

In the course of that decade, this type of game created a dangerous promiscuity between journalists and lobbyists. There was a vicious circle that affected a lot of newsweeklies. A certain figure emerged in the newsrooms to do the dirty work once performed by the police reporter: The so-called “dossier reporter.”

Consistia no seguinte:

The game went like this:

O lobista procurava o repórter com um dossiê que interessava para seus negócios.

The lobbyist went to the reporter with a dossier that was good for his business interests.

O jornalista levava a matéria à direção, e, com a repercussão da denúncia, ganhava status profissional.

The journalist took the article to his editors and, with the prominent play generated by the charges made, gained professional status.

Com esse status ele ganhava liberdade para novas denúncias. E aí passava a entrar no mundo de interesses do lobista.

With this status, the journalist earned the freedom to make new charges, and so got deeper and deeper [in bed with] the lobbyists.

O caso mais exemplar ocorreu na própria Veja, com o lobista APS (Alexandre Paes Santos).

The most exemplary case happened at Veja, with the lobbyist Alexandre Paes Santos, known as “APS.”

Durante muito tempo abasteceu a revista com escândalos. Tempos depois, a Policia Federal deu uma batida em seu escritório e apreendeu uma agenda com telefones de muitos políticos. Resultou em uma capa escandalosa na própria Veja em 24 de janeiro de 2001 (clique aqui) em que se acusavam desde assessores do Ministro da Saúde José Serra de tentar achacar o presidente da Novartis, até o banqueiro Daniel Dantas e o empresário Nelson Tanure de atuarem através do lobista.

APS supplied the magazine with scandals for a good long while. Sometime later, the federal police raided his offices and seized a datebook containing the telephone numbers of numerous politicians. It resulted in scandalous cover story in Veja on January 24, 2001 in which aides to health minister José Serra were accused of trying to attack the president of Novartis, while Daniel Dantas and businessman Nelson Tanure were denounced for operating through lobbyists.

Na edição seguinte, todos os envolvidos na capa enviaram cartas negando os episódios mencionados. As cartas foram publicadas sem que fossem contestadas.

In the following edition, all those named in the cover story sent letters denying that the episodes mentioned had ever occurred. The letters ran without being contested.

O que a matéria deixou de relatar é que, na agenda do lobista, aparecia o nome de uma editora da revista – a mesma que publicara as maiores denúncias fornecidas por ele. A informação acabou vazando através do Correio Braziliense, em matéria dos repórteres Ugo Brafa e Ricardo Leopoldo.

What the Veja article failed to mention was the lobbyist’s datebook also contained the name of a female editor at Veja itself — the same one who had published all the major scandals he had supplied. That information wound up leaking to the Correio Braziliense, in an article by Ugo Brafa and Ricardo Leopoldo.

A editora foi demitida no dia 9 de novembro, mas só após o escândalo ter se tornado público.

The woman was fired on November 9, but only after the scandal went public.

Antes disso, em 27 de junho de 2001(clique aqui) Veja produziu uma capa com a transcrição de grampos envolvendo Nelson Tanure. Um dos “grampeados” era o jornalista Ricardo Boechat. O grampo chegou à revista através de lobistas e custou o emprego de Boechat, apesar do grampo não ter revelado nenhuma irregularidade de sua parte.

Prior to this, on June 27, 2001, Veja ran a cover story with a transcript of wiretaps involving Nelson Tanure. One of the supposed wiretap subjects was journalist Ricardo Boechat. The wiretap was provided to the magazine by lobbyists and cost Boechat his job, even though the wiretap revealed no misconduct on his part.

He now anchors the evening news on Band. (Tanure lost Forbes Brasil, but still owns the Gazeta Mercantil, I think — which I now have access to a daily copy of, by the way, so I am deepening my reading of the three major biz pubs here — the Jornal do Comercio, the GZ, and Valor.)

We refer to him as boi chato, but the broadcast is not completely useless. I thought Band’s presidential debate last year was the best of the bunch.

It had the extremely audacious and innovative idea of letting a panel of journalists — rather than, say, a game-show host or ambush-interview clown (Globo’s presidential debate was quite literally a circus act) — ask serious questions of the candidates, with follow-ups.

I guess this explains why Bandeirantes has an extreme hard-on — as we say in Brooklyn — for the Editora Abril, however. See

Graças ao escândalo, o editor responsável pela matéria ganhou prestígio profissional na editora e foi nomeado diretor da revista Exame. Tempos depois foi afastado, após a Abril ter descoberto que a revista passou a ser utilizada para notas que não seguiam critérios estritamente jornalísticos.

Thanks to the scandal, the editor responsible for the piece gained prestige at Abril and was named editorial director of Exame magazine. He was later fired after Abril discovered that the magazine was publishing articles not based on strictly journalistic criteria.

Really? Say more.

Um dos boxes da matéria falava sobre as relações entre jornalismo e judiciário.

One of the sidebars to the article spoke of relations between journalism and the judiciary.

O box refletia, com exatidão, as relações que, anos depois, juntariam Dantas e a revista, sob nova direção: notas plantadas servindo como ferramenta para guerras empresariais, policiais [sic?] e disputas jurídicas.

The box reflected, with great precision, the kinds of relationships that years later would bring Veja, now under new management, together with Dantas: Planted news items serving as [weapons] in business, political [?] and legal disputes.

I am taking the Mrs. out to dinner tonight, then off to an evening of Carnaval cabaret — marchinhas at a certain dive bar known for samba de roda.

To be continued.

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