Attacks on Journalism Put Democracy under Stress, Says Folha Editor

Sérgio Dávila said that it is up to the newspaper to inspect power with a critical spirit

São Paulo

Attacks on professional journalism are subjecting Brazil's democratic institutions to one of the harshest stress tests in its history, said journalist Sérgio Dávila, Folha's editorial director, on Wednesday.

Dávila made the opening speech at an event that celebrated the newspaper's 99th birthday.

Dávila called the attacks on journalist Patrícia Campos Mello, a Folha reporter, a "cowardly campaign." On Tuesday (18), President Jair Bolsonaro insulted the reporter, by reproducing hints of a sexual nature originating from a lying testimony to a Joint Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry created by Congress to investigate fake news.

Sergio Davila, Folha Editor Foto Reinaldo Canato / Folhapress - Reinaldo Canato / Folhapress

"Professional journalists, such as Patrícia, the women who make journalism this vibrant force for the defense of democracy and the surveillance of institutions, yes, they exchange information," said Dávila. "They spend exhausting hours of investigation when they could be with family or friends; for trips that risk your life; for physical and mental health."

"This attack is amplified as never before by the echo chamber of social media and messaging applications, where hate offices and digital militias dominate, and there are no rules or accountability for the content disseminated there," he said.

Dávila recalled a phrase by journalist Otavio Frias Filho, who directed Folha's Newsroom until his death in 2018, for whom the newspaper should represent "a beacon to illuminate the boundaries, always fluid, between the false and the true," and added: "This lighthouse outshines and irritates the powerful."

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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