Hunger Live and in Color

Hunger Live and in Color

    With Lula, the Brazilian media will have to face the country.
    The Brazil of statistics and infographics will finally be transformed
    into actual images, not necessarily depressing and negative.
    The media
    will move. Pushed, as always.

    Alberto Dines

    The new "itinerant action" program of the Lula administration is a simple idea that confirms the saying "a good
    solution is the solution that solves at least two problems". Besides its political, social and administrative benefits, it will give the
    media a very healthy jerk. Or, if you wish, a huge lesson on Brazil to those who have gotten used to the easy road—covering
    the country without leaving home (or their newsrooms).

    From now on, all TV newscasts, radio stations, newspapers and magazines will have to forget the nice life of the
    Rio-São Paulo-Brasília triangle and start showing Brazil to Brazilians. Somehow the television media will have to find the time, the
    resources and, most of all, the conviction to forget botox, clones, the petty little world of `summer muses’ and current girlfriends
    of favorite playboys. Now they will have to hit the road and eat dust, tracking behind the new heads of federal departments.

    Somehow, newspapers will have to learn to get ahead of the facts. Just like the other day, when they found out that
    the itinerary of the first presidential trip would include Guaribas, interior of the state of Piauí. Even if they changed the
    itinerary back, the fact is that Guaribas is now in the Brazilian journalistic map.

    From now on, national news editors cannot be confused with political editors—they will all have to diversify, each
    one on its own, following the inspired suggestion of "Globo" reporter Márcio Moreira Alves—in Brasília, you have to cover
    the Praça dos Três Poderes [Square of the Three Government Branches] without forgetting the Esplanada dos Ministérios
    [Esplanade of the Ministries].

    Brazil will change, the media will change and the readers will feel the difference. And on the second or third trip, we
    will notice a snap: where are the local correspondents and the regional branches? Where have all the newspapers who
    introduce themselves to advertisers as `national papers’ gone? Must weekly journalism restrict itself to self-help and
    pharmacology miracles? Is the Nordeste (Northeast) only beaches and coconut milk? The Brazil of statistics and infographics will
    finally be transformed into actual images, not necessarily depressing and negative. The media will move. Pushed, as always.

    Gruesome numbers

    We are going to lose the fear, recover hope, feel proud, ignite solidarity—it’s a country-wide consensus. A few
    details get in the way though. On Saturday (Jan
    4th), all the major newspapers in São Paulo, in unison and inadvertently, gave
    us a picture of the long way we still have to go.

    In its Cidades (Cities) section, Estadão
    [Estado de S. Paulo] reports that during the three first days of the year, an
    extended holiday, 42 people were murdered in São Paulo, 25 of those in the capital city alone and the rest in the nearby towns.
    One of the dead was a military policeman, victim of armed robbery. And that’s not all—in Diadema, there were 3 slaughters in
    3 days, with 3 dead. Total: 45.

    In the Cotidiano (Day to Day) section of
    Folha de S. Paulo, we learn that during the New Year’s holiday alone, 109
    people were killed in federal highways, victims of accidents. On the same date last year, 106 were killed. One accident in Santa
    Catarina left six dead, but it’s not clear if those are included in that total. Adding two more deaths reported after the survey by
    Folha (early morning Friday and reported by
    Estadão, p. C-3), we have 111 fatal victims (or 116, if we include the

    Adding murders and highway crashes, we had 161 people dead on New Year’s, the day of Universal Fraternity.
    Christmas numbers were not computed.

    The brutality of the numbers is only paralleled by the insensitivity of the editors: the
    Folha story was featured as a small note in the "Panorâmica" column, thrown in the confines of the paper (p. C-4), ahead of Sports. The
    Estadão story was published with some prominence (headline on page C-5). Estadão managed to insert a catch on the bottom of the front page
    ("Violence on the Eve of the New Year in SP). Folha didn’t even do that.

    It is worth adding up this gruesome balance of the almost two weeks of celebrations and joy during this happiest
    season of the year. It is also worth asking the question of what is the role of this press that walks away from tragedy with such indifference.

    Alberto Dines, the author, is a journalist, founder and researcher at LABJOR—Laboratório de Estudos Avançados
    em Jornalismo (Laboratory for Advanced Studies in Journalism) at UNICAMP (University of Campinas) and editor of
    the Observatório da Imprensa. He also writes a column on cultural issues for the Rio daily
    Jornal do Brasil. You can reach him by email at  

    Translated by Tereza Braga, email:

    This article was originally published in the
    Observatório da Imprensa (The Press Observatory)—  of January 8, 2003.

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