“Globo Has No Right To Disinform”: Rio Judge


Veja‘s Mainardi on Globo’s late-night Jô Xô repeats the unsubstantiated rumor that senior government officials have bribe-stuffed offshore bank accounts — defending the exercise in logic-chopping gibberish with a gibbering tautology.

Consultor Jurídico (Brazil) reports:

O direito de informar da imprensa só se sobrepõe ao direito à honra quando a notícia é verdadeira. O entendimento foi usado pelo juiz Álvaro Henrique Teixeira de Almeida, da 12ª Vara Cível do Rio de Janeiro, para condenar a revista Época a pagar R$ 22,8 mil de indenização por danos morais para um administrador de empresas.

The right to inform enjoyed by the press only trumps the right to “personal honor” when the news published is true. This was the argument used by Judge Teixeira de Almeida of the 12th Civil Bar of Rio de Janeiro in ordering Época magazine to pay R$22,800 in damages to a business executive.

Época is a publication of the Editora Globo.

Brazil apparently does not have the “actual malice” standard our gringo courts apply in such cases, where the burden of proving intentional disinformation, rather than mere erroneous misinformation, is on the plaintiff.

The “it is not a crime to be journalistically inept” defense. And there is some wisdom to that.

I was reading recently about a SLAPP suit here against a publication that got the name of the company it was talking about wrong — it named the holding company rather than the operating unit, or some such thing. Therefore, the argument goes, it was imputing skullduggery to the wrong business entity. Danos morais.

On the other hand, the mass media here does not tend to feel it is its duty to run corrections when it publishes nonexistent factoids.

You have to sue them to get that right. I am not exaggerating. “It is our God-given right to mis- and disinform! That is freedom of expression!”

The Gospel According to San Diogo (Mainardi). This is journalism produced directly by libel lawyers, coldly balancing the costs of litigation with the potential jump in circulation (and ad rates).

File under:

A sentença, que é fundamentada na Lei de Imprensa, acontece em um momento que o Supremo Tribunal Federal suspende 22 artigos da norma. Os processos que envolvem esses artigos devem ficar parados. No entanto, nesse caso foi aplicado o artigo 49, que pune aquele que causa prejuízo a alguém no exercício da liberdade de expressão. O ministro Carlos Ayres Britto, relator da questão, chegou a declarar que o artigo 49 sucumbe por arrastamento, mas o entendimento não foi referendado pelo plenário do STF.

The ruling, based on the Press Law of 1967, comes at a moment when the Supreme Court has suspended 22 articles of that [decree-law]. Cases involving those articles have been frozen, but this case involved Article 49, which punishes conduct that harms someone during the exercise of freedom of expression. Justice Ayres Britto, the justice in charge of the issue, has even opined that Article 49 also falls, by [“attraction”], but his opinion has not been voted on by the full court yet.

Not sure what the technical legal definition of arrastamento is, but I guess it basically means that if Article 49 depends on any of the proscribed provisions of the law, then it, too, is without force, and void.

There’s a word for that in gringo legalese, I just can’t think of it at the moment, and am in a hurry at the moment …

On the (generalíssimo-decreed) Press Law of 1967, see

Um erro na reportagem “Bandidos de Classe Média”, publicada na edição 384, de 26 de setembro de 2005, foi o motivo da condenação. A revista publicou foto e nome do administrador dizendo que ele foi preso com 10 mil comprimidos de ectasy quando voltava da Holanda. Segundo o texto, ele foi o protagonista da maior apreensão desse tipo de drogas no país.

An error in the report titled “Bandits of the Middle Class,” published in Época No. 384, dated September 26, 2005, was the object of the condemnation. The magazine ran a photo and the name of the business executive saying he was arrested with 10,000 Ecstasy pills as he was returning from Holland. According to the article, he was involved in the biggest seizure ever of this drug in Brazil.

The image “https://i0.wp.com/i113.photobucket.com/albums/n216/cbrayton/Stuff/secondlaff.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Another dubious proposition with little supporting evidence: Second Life matters a damn.

No entanto, não foi isso — segundo os autos — o que aconteceu. Na verdade, em setembro de 2003, ele foi preso pela polícia quando saia do trabalho no centro do Rio de Janeiro. Ele foi confundido com um suspeito procurado pela polícia. Apesar de não ter nada em mãos, na delegacia, o administrador admitiu que já tinha consumido drogas. O caso virou um processo criminal e foi parar na imprensa.

This, however, was not what happened. In fact, in September 2003 he was arrested by the police while leaving work in downtown Rio. He was confused with a wanted suspect. Though he had nothing on him, he admitted at the precinct that he had taken drugs before. The case was referred for indictment and became the subject of press coverage.

They did not even bother to check the court records to fact-check the accuracy of the statements they were making?

Quando a reportagem foi publicada, ele já tinha sido absolvido pelo crime de tráfico três meses antes. “Meu nome já foi para a mídia dezenas de vezes e me desgastei para eliminar coisas passadas. Isso tudo resultou em quatro anos de desemprego”, afirma.

When the report was published, he had already been found innocent of drug trafficking, three months earlier. “My name turned up in the press dozens of times and I wore myself out trying to deal with things that were in the past. The result: Four years of unemployment,” he stays.

At R$5,000 a year.

Segundo o juiz Álvaro Henrique Teixeira de Almeida, “as informações publicadas pela revista Época a respeito do autor, que se encontram nestes autos, não correspondem aos fatos que verdadeiramente ocorreram, como facilmente se depreende da análise das peças processuais relativas à ação criminal ajuizada em face do autor”.

According to Judge Teixeira, “The information published by Época about the plaintiff, which are found in the case file here, do not correspond to the facts of what actually happened, as can easily be ascertained by analyzing the files of the criminl proceedings against the plaintiff.”

Ao debater sobre a questão entre o direito de informar da imprensa e o direito à honra, o juiz entendeu que o primeiro só se sobrepõe quando a notícia é verdadeira. “Sendo falsas as afirmativas realizadas pela ré em matéria publicada em revista de circulação nacional, resta evidente a ausência de interesse público e a grave violação da honra, intimidade e privacidade do autor, decorrendo desta conduta o dano moral inegavelmente sofrido”, argumentou o juiz.

In deliberating on the issue of weighing the press’s right to inform and the right to “personal honor,” the judge ruled that that the former only trumps the latter when the reporting is accurate. “Given that the statements printed in the article published in a magazine that circulates nationally, it is obvious there is no public interest here, and a serious violation of the plaintiff’s reputation, privacy and intimacy as a result of this conduct, and thus [the charge of defamation is valid,]” the judge argued.

Como o nome e a foto do administrador foram estampadas na revista como tendo cometido um crime que não praticou, Almeida estipulou então a indenização em 60 salários mínimos.

Since the name and photo of the executive were printed in the magazine as someone who had committed a crime he did not commit, Almedia prescribed damages of 60 minimum salaries.

Which seems like a laughably small amount.

Outro réu

Another defendant

O jornalista Thomas Traumann, chefe da sucursal do Rio, também era apontado como réu na ação. No entanto, o juiz não aceitou sua condenação por entender que, pelo artigo 49 da Lei de Imprensa, só o autor do texto e o veículo podem ser responsabilizados. “Não há que se falar em responsabilidade do ‘chefe’ da sucursal da pessoa jurídica que explora a atividade, sendo imperativa a extinção do processo em relação ao segundo réu”, argumentou Almeida. Por causa do pedido para incluir o jornalista, o administrador foi condenado a pagar metades dos custos processuais e honorários advocatícios.

Thomas Traumann, head of Época‘s Rio bureau, was also named as a defendant in the case, but the judge declined to hold him responsible, reasoning that under Article 49, only the author of the article and the publication can be held responsible.

Yes, well, the New York Times did not have to hold Howell Raines (ten times the journalist of any of these people) responsible for Jayson Blair. But they did it anyway.

Não é a primeira vez que o Judiciário nega esse pedido ao administrador. Em 2006, a juíza Tânia Magalhães Avelar Moreira da Silveira, da 1ª Vara Criminal de São Paulo, entendeu que o editor não gerencia a revista e, por isso, não é ele quem deve figurar no pólo passivo de uma ação que pede direito de resposta. Por isso, ela julgou extinta a ação em que ele pedia que uma carta resposta sua fosse publicada na Época. Para a juíza Tânia, a defesa do empresário errou ao ajuizar a ação contra o diretor editorial da revista.

This is not the first time the courts have turned down this aspect of the executive’s case. In 2006, a judge of the First Criminal Bar of São Paulo ruled that the editor does not manage the magazine and thus is not liable in a lawsuit asking for the right of reply.

Editors at Época magazine do not have the power to make editorial decisions about what goes into the magazine, such as a right of reply letter?

Then who the hell does?

Ecce Globo.

For this reason, she threw out the lawsuit asking that a letter of reply be published in Época. In her view, the executive’s defense erred in bringing the suit against the magazine’s editorial director.

Who exactly is responsible for the factual accuracy of Globo journalism, anyway?

Ali Kamel? (Why does this man still have a job?)

No one, it appears.

Which, again, is why I don’t bother reading it. Nassif, in his interview with Caros Amigos this week, was actually saying that Época is not really all that bad — like Veja, the nonsense gets “scratched directly onto the vinyl” by editors, in his analysis.
But I have a very bad impression of its sister title, Época Negócios, and so find myself not very inclined to run the risk of spending my limited content budget at the newsstand on rubbish.

I really think these companies need to shake up editorial management, adopt minimum guarantees of editorial independence, and relaunch themselves as, say, Veja 2.0.

Same glossy goodness, now with 50% less hysterical twaddle!
Interesting claim by Nassif, if true: That the Vejinhas are carrying the Veja brand while the national newsweekly circles the drain, circulation-wise.

The one thing that makes you hesitate before you decide to refuse to buy anything from the company putting out this nonsense is that you will no longer have access to your local metro edition of Vejinha — the local equivalent of Time Out, you could sort of say, for Brazil’s major urban centers.

Your basic “I deserve to have a good time, so where do I go?” sort of service. It is very well done. Some of the big dailies have invested in providing usable alternatives which are not bad, but the Vejinhas still do it best.

Even so: I am not giving these people my money until they shape up and ship out the gabbling ratfink artists.

I am not, of course, Veja‘s target audience — I am something of a Martian anthropologist here (klaatu barada nikto!).

But I would idly bet you that a lot of that audience can be persuaded to feel the same way. I do drink beer with these people, you know.

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