Nassif: “McCarthyism as a Business Tactic” In Textbook-Related Gabbing Ratfink Episode

The image “https://i2.wp.com/i113.photobucket.com/albums/n216/cbrayton/exemplary.png” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
“Exemplary reporting:” Veja on its relationship with Daniel Dantas, May 24, 2006. Source: Veja.abril.com.br. Click to zoom. See
Veja (Brazil): Behind the Scenes of an “Exemplary” Investigative Report. This apologia pro leak journalism suo was utter quacking nonsense.

The Brazilian journalist does not feel free to write. More than just having to follow the editorial line of the publications they work for, the complaints principally have to do with coercion by political or business groups. –“A Profile of the Brazilian Journalist”

In O caso COC, journalist Luis Nassif (Brazil) continues to build his portfolio of journalistic case studies of the Editora Abril’s Veja magazine.

In this case, he looks at a hit piece on a private educational publishing company and discovers that Veja had only months before written a glowing puff-piece about the company.

What gives?

Veja‘s textbook division had entered the same market in the meantime.

Veja attributed a “subversive” text to a competitor in the educational publishing market that the competitor had told it the competitor had not authored. And refused to run a correction.

Veja tends to report nonexistent facts as though they existed. Which is why I refuse to give them or their parent company my money.

On attributing statements to persons who did not actually make them, see also

Não foi a única vez que a Abril se utilizou da metralhadora da Veja para batalhas comerciais. Só que o “prego sobre vinil” era tão evidente que, à primeira leitura, se percebiam as intenções da reportagem.

This [the Esteves case] was not the only time Abril used Veja as a machine gun to fight its business battles. In this case, however, the “nail taken to the record” was so glaring that the intentions of the article are self-evident on the first reading.

“The nail taken to the record,” Nassif has explained, is slang for crude, intrusive and gratuitous editorial additions to an otherwise polished piece of journalism. It’s a nice, vivid little metaphor. See also:

No dia 13 de junho de 2007, a revista investiu contra o curso apostilado da COC – sistema privado de ensino. A matéria era sobre a mãe de um aluno que denunciava “conteúdo subversivo ” no material do COC.

On June 13, 2007, the magazine attacked a [prepackaged school curriculum published by] COC — a private education company. The article had to do with the mother of a student who denounced “subversive content” in COC’s instructional materials.

Regarding gabbling bullshit about subversive content in textbooks, see also

Globo also publishes textbooks.

O trecho de maior impacto era uma lição sobre “como conjugar um empresário”, efetivamente de baixo nível.

The passage with the highest impact was a lesson on “how to conjugate a businessman,” which really was very poorly done.

Nassif now reproduces a passage in facsimile.

It is a bad, grammar-themed joke in the general vein of “the folklore of the evil, greedy corporation.” Not especially subversive — we do live on the same planet as Andy Fastow, after all; not all businessmen are Ayn Rand’s John Galt — but basically the kind of dumm humor you circulate by e-mail when you are bored.

Quando li a matéria, percebi que o tom não era de uma reportagem convencional. Estava mais no campo das disputas comerciais. Nela, se estimulava os pais de alunos a exigirem o fim do convênio. O “prego sobre vinil” de Sabino era muito evidente para qualquer jornalista com um mínimo de experiência.

When I read the article, I saw that the tone was not that of a conventional news report. It seemed to have more to do with the area of commercial disputes. The article encouraged the parents of students to cancel their contract with the company. Sabino’s “taking a nail to the LP” was quite obvious to any minimally experienced journalist.

No dia 13 de junho publiquei uma nota no Blog estranhando o tom da matéria (clique aqui).

On June 13 I published a note on my blog in which I said I found the tone of the article odd.

“Segue-se uma longa catilinária, com uma conclamação para que colégios deixem de utilizar o material do COC. “O colégio onde estuda a filha reagiu com coragem e correção. Não renovou o contrato com o COC e mandou tirar de sua própria apostila o texto em questão”. Depois, críticas genéricas de especialistas contra a má qualidade dos livros didáticos, mas sem deixar claro se são críticas genéricas ou específicas.

“There follows long screed, [Nassif wrote,] with a call to arms for high schools not to use COC textbooks. “The high school where the daughter studies reacted courageously and correctly. It did not renew its contract with COC and had the passage in question removed from its own copy of the textbook in question,” [Veja wrote.] Then comes generic criticisms from experts on the poor quality of educational materials published in Brazil, but without making it clear whether the criticisms are generic or specific.

I was helping my wife study for a FUVEST exam and was astonished at how riddled with errors, for example, the answer keys were. (She was admitted to the library and information science program at USP, by the way. Boy, am I proud of her!)

Faltou à matéria informar que a Editora Abril, através de duas editoras que adquiriu nos últimos anos, é concorrente direta do COC no fornecimento de material didático às escolas, que a matéria favorece a Abril nessa disputa, que a defesa do COC aparece em apenas uma frase do proprietário.

What the article didn’t tell you was that Editora Abril, through two publishing houses it acquired in recent years, is a direct competitor of COC in the school textbook market; that the article favored Abril’s interests in this dispute for market share; and that in defense of COC it published only a single sentence by its owner.

Eis aí uma das facetas mais perigosas dessa concentração de poder na mídia. Pode-se utilizar a notícia como ferramenta empresarial para sufocar concorrentes, sem o risco desse tipo de posição ser questionada por outros veículos.”

Here you have one of the most dangerous aspects of concentrated media ownership. The news can be used as a weapon to beat down competitors, without risking having this sort of conduct being questioned by other news organizations.

Estimulado pela nota, um leitor sugeriu que comprasse a última edição da revista Cláudia. Nela, uma reportagem com Cláudia Costin, então vice-presidente da Fundação Victor Civita, anunciando a entrada da Abril no sistema de cursos apostilados (clique aqui):

Encouraged by my item on Veja, a reader suggested I buy the latest edition of Cláudia magazine, where an article featured Cláudia Costin, then vice-president of the Victor Civita Foundation, announced Abril’s entry into the market for [prepackaged curricula]:

“Cresce o número de escolas privadas e redes municipais que firmam convênios com grandes sistemas de ensino. De acordo com Claudia Costin, vice-presidente da Fundação Victor Civita, quem comprou um método saiu-se melhor na Prova Brasil: “Bem ou mal, essas instituições passaram a contar com um material que diz claramente o que fazer em cada aula. O plano de aula, embora pareça um pouco totalitário, garante a aprendizagem”. (…)

“A growing number of private schools and public school districts are signing contracts with big instructional companies [the Claudia article said]. According to Cláudia Costin, VP of the VCF, those who buy the self-study materials do better on the national educational exams: “For good or ill, these institutions have begun to rely on material that provides a clear lesson plan for every class meeting. The lesson plan, although it may seem a little authoritarian, guarantees that students will learn …”

O grupo Abril, que engloba as editoras Ática e Scipione, tam bém colocou no mercado o próprio sistema de ensino, o Ser, que poderá ser adotado a partir de 2008 e põe à disposição dos professores o conteúdo das publicações da editora (incluindo a revista CLAUDIA)”.

“The Grupo Abril, [the Claudia article continues,] which includes the Ática and Scipione publishing house, has positioned its own prepackaged curriculum, Ser, so well that it can be adopted starting in 2008, providing teachers with content from other Abril publications (including CLAUDIA).”

A nota provocou um comentário, colocado no meu Blog pela vereadora Soninha:

The note provoked a commentary on my blog from São Paulo city councilwoman Soninha:

“Bingo! E, como mostrou o http://www.imprensamarrom.com.br, a MESMA repórter que fez a matéria detonando o COC assinou, meses atrás, um texto que exaltava o sistema como modelo de educação que dá certo! Na própria Veja! Êta, nóis”.

“Bingo! And as the [Yellow Press] Web site showed, the VERY SAME REPORTER who wrote that article trashing COC had several months earlier written an article celebrating it as an educational model that had succeeded. In Veja, too! [D’oh!]”

Fui atrás. Era uma matéria altamente laudatória ao COC, publicada pouco tempo antes.

I went looking for that article. It was an article that praised COC highly, published not long before.

A matéria elogiava a eficiência dos cursos apostilados, oferecidos pelo setor privado. E apresentava como modelo maior o próprio COC.

The article praised the efficiency of [prepackaged lesson plans] offered by the private sector, and presented COC as a role model in this regard.

O que teria levado a uma mudança tão brusca de opinião, a ponto da segunda matéria sequer fazer menção aos elogios contidos na primeira?

What could have led to such an abrupt change of opinion, to the point that the second article does not even mention the praises contained in the first?

No dia 19 de junho, conversei com Chaim Zaher, dono do COC, que me deu o seguinte depoimento:

On June 19, I talked with Chaim Zaher, COC’s owner, who gave me the following statement:

“Pouco tempo atrás fui procurado por uma repórter de “Veja”, que resolveu fazer uma matéria sobre o material didático do COC, pelo fato de termos sido premiados pela qualidade do material. A matéria saiu com muitos elogios.

“Not long ago a Veja reporter contacted me about doing a story on COC’s curricula, given that we had gotten a prize for the quality of our materials. The article came out with lots of praise for us.”

“Pelo que me parece, a revista não estava informada sobre a entrada da Abril nesse mercado. Não sei o que aconteceu internamente, mas na edição seguinte da revista Cláudia, a Abril anunciava sua entrada no mercado, mencionava o Anglo e o Objetivo, e não fazia nenhuma menção ao COC, que, segundo a matéria da “Veja”, era o mais premiado. Aí, a denúncia da jornalista, mãe de uma aluna, caiu em seu colo e fizeram aquele carnaval.”

“It seems to me that Veja had not been informed that Abril was entering this market. I do not know what happened internally, but in the next edition of Claudia magazine, Abril announced it was entering the market, mentioned Anglo and Objectivo, and did not mention COC, which was, according to the [previous] Veja article, the winner of the most awards. So then the charges made by the journalist, who was the mother of a student, fell in their lap and [they went to town.]

“Jamais declarei à repórter que o COC errou nos trechos mencionados, como saiu publicado. O que lhe disse é que todo material didático está sujeito a erros, e isso acontece com o nosso material e com os de todos nossos concorrentes. E que nosso trabalho é ir corrigindo os erros, quando identificados. Ela colocou que eu teria admitido os erros.”

“I never told the reporter that COC had erred in the passages in questions, as they wound up publishing. What I told him was that all learning materials are subject to error, that this occurs in our materials and in our competitors’ materials as well. And that our job is to correct errors, when they are discovered. She put that I had admitted errors.”

O material “Conjugando o Empresário” não consta das apostilas do COC. Foi um professor do “Pentágono” que copiou esse texto do vestibular da UFMG e distribuiu para seus alunos, na sua classe. Tanto que nenhuma outra escola tem esse material. Expliquei para a repórter, mas colocaram na reportagem de tal maneira que ficou parecendo que o material era do COC.

“The text ‘Conjugating the Businessman’ is not part of COC’s course packages. It was a teacher from [“The Pentagon”] who copied this text from an entrance exam for the Federal University of Minas Gerais and distributed it to students in her class. That is why no other school [with a contract with COC] had this text. I explained that to the reporter, but they wrote the article in such a way that it seemed the text was authored by COC.”

I do not know what “The Pentagon” is.

Mandei uma carta para a revista, pedindo que retificassem o que me foi atribuído. Não publicaram a carta. Muitos pais de alunos do COC mandaram cartas à revista com cópia para mim. Nenhuma saiu, só as cartas contrárias, e que se basearam na matéria da “Veja”.

“I sent the magazine a letter requesting a correction of the statement attributed to me. They did not run the letter. Many parents of COC students sent letters to the magazine, with a cc: to me. None were published, only the negative letters based on the Veja article.”

Recebi muitos telefonemas de solidariedade, mas ninguém quer dar a cara para bater, temendo retaliação da revista”.

“I got many supportive phone calls, but no one wants to go to bat for us, fearing retaliation from the magazine.”

Só depois de publicado todo esse dossiê no Blog, no dia 27 de junho, a revista resolveu retificar a menção incorreta ao COC, certamente pressionanda pela direção da Abril, dado o histórico de quase nunca publicar cartas de retificação sobre seus erros.

Only after this Blog published that account of the case did the magazine decide to correct the misquote of COC, and most certainly did so under pressure from Abril management, given its history of almost never publishing corrections of its errors.

Nesses episódios, o interesse mais evidente era da Abril. Em outros episódios, o jogo se torna mais enrolado. O prego passa a arranhar cada vez mais o vinil, com uma falta de técnica jornalística, uma confiança chocante no próprio taco.

In these episodes, Abril’s business interests are obviously in play. In others, the game gets a little more complex. The nail scratches the LP more and more frequently, with a complete lack of technical competence and a shocking confidence in the magazine’s own cleverness.

This is an interesting case to consider alongside TV Globo’s “debunking” of biomagnetic water treatments — after it had previously touted biomagnetism, on the same program, as “a hot new trend among big-time American athletes,” an “Oriental practice … that is saving lives.”

See

These people are like a bad date from hell: They will do and say anything to get over on you.

You girls know the kind I mean.

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