Unacceptable hatred for the press unites protesters and police in Brazil
Posted by Mauricio Savarese
As if the massive lay-offs, the lack of regulations, the excessive work, the concentration of the media, the low salaries, the scarce number of readers, and the difficulties in getting what Brazil is about weren’t enough, Brazilian journalists now have to deal with aggression coming from protesters and police. Reporters, cameramen and photographers have been targeted in the last two weeks for doing their job. About 30 have been attacked, intimidated or forced to leave their work unfinished.
At first that was done basically by police. Now protesters have their share.
Marcelo Parreira, a Brazilian journalist who works for one of the main media companies there, wrote a rant about the situation there. Journalists have had to hide their identities from protesters. They have had to be extra cautious with the police so they don’t get rubber bullets to their faces. He went to three of the protests in Brasilia and was brave enough to break the silence — which is something very few Brazilian journalists have done lately. Police violence is surely unacceptable in any case, yet more when it comes to targeting those who protect freedom of speech.
But the protesters deserve no distinction in that case either.
“I’m impressed with the detachment of people for free press. During the protests, the most echoed cry was fascist ‘sensationalist media.’ There was never rebuke or counter-charge. That annoyed so much me I can only believe my common sense and self-preservation instinct protected me from answering to them.
Media makes mistakes. Journalists are human beings, and media companies are made of journalists. We all have convictions, ideologies, idiosyncrasies that we’d love to leave home, but we just can’t. We try day and night to cap its side effects on what we do, so the information we broadcast can be as thorough as possible and we can accomplish our final social mission: to help voters decide. That’s what we do, that’s what we are here for. When mistakes happen, they begin with the intention to get it right. Believe me, I’ve committed mistakes, and it was never on purpose.
How about when we do get it right? For those who cry against corruption: how many charges made public by media can you remember? How many historic cases of thieves were acknowledged by our pens? How many awful politicians are gone because of our footage? I ask those who defend more education: how much effort did we make for more resources? How many studies did we publish, how many allegations did we make? How many hospitals in terrible conditions did we show for a better public healthcare system? How many stories for better public transport system, for more security, more respect for human rights?
Nobody suffers more from fascism than media. How many other walks of life have their professionals intimidated by authoritarian governments? Do not get confused: pro-government media isn’t press, it is propaganda. To call fascists those in our free press is as senseless as calling a doctor an executioner.
Nobody suffers more from sensationalism than good press. Our daily craft goes through dilemmas ranging from surviving in a competitive market to feeding a vicious circle for those who prefer footage drenched in blood to relevant political news. When the public chooses a mere report of another crime above knowing more politics and the economy, they make a clear choice: they opt for ignorance, for the abdication of precious resources to control their destiny and their country’s destiny.
I’m not a part of fascist sensationalist media. I’m part of a free press which has to hide the pride for doing its job to try to assure that protesters do not get abused by incompetent police. I’m part of a free press which fears for it’s own safety when we hear thousands of people calling us fascists. People that, ironically, would shut us up by force if they could. I’m part of a free press which does all this with pride and doesn’t regret it, because we know that we are trying to push a fairer society. That is even if some people don’t want it.”