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Not Such an Admirable New World

06/04/2018 - 11h01



The truckers' strike stopped the country, affected Brazilians' routines and interfered in the relationship between Folha and its readers.

In the Greater São Paulo Metropolitan Capital City area, nearly 30% of the newspaper's distributors were unable to carry out their delivery functions, according to the *Folha*'s management. In the rest of the country, issues weren't delivered on 70% of ground routes (States of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Paraná and the cities of Florianópolis and Campo Grande. Distribution only got back to normal on Thursday, the 31st.

Without the newspaper on their doorstep, but seeking orientation and knowledge, many subscribers had a new reading experience, via apps and the *Folha*'s site.

One of the apps is a simple electronic facsimile reproduction of the print edition. It allows the reader to experience the newspaper as if he were turning paper pages. The other is the equivalent of the newspaper's site. It publishes texts and images that are produced during the day and goes beyond the printed news version. All subscribers have full access to both apps. Typically, these versions are accessed more on days when there is a crisis.

Regarding the digital facsimile version, there are persistent reader complaints about difficulty in downloading the pages and increasing their size (zooming in).

Many of the graphical options of the print newspaper don't work well or are difficult to visualize or otherwise compromised when exhibited on a computer, tablet or cell phone screen. The new graphical project favors a double page layout which only functions on paper.

Reader Marcelo Martin's reaction was typical: "I think it's cool when Folha tests new formats for editing material. The cover of the Illustrated section on 23/05 was a beautiful example. The cassette tape and the edited text beside it. Really great - if you have the print edition. If it's a newspaper reader on a computer, I can tell you up front that it isn't very practical to turn the notebook laterally. The journal talks so much about its digital edition, but still only thinks about readers of the print edition.

Another example criticized by readers was the fact that anyone searching for news about the strike in the digital facsimile edition app only found it after paging through the entire newspaper. The Markets section only shows up at the end after the Illustrated section.

The dimension of the stoppage and the necessity of providing lots of information constantly obligated the Folha to opt for a coverage modality known as live blogging - referred to on the site as Ao Vivo (Live). This deals with happenings in real time through short and constant updates.

According to the Folha 's Editor in Chief, Sérgio Dávila, Ao Vivo was kept online uninterrupted for eight days, between the 24th and 31st of May, with teams mobilized in Editing and on the road. "This editorial feature is designed to publish snippets, extracts from articles and columns so that the reader can navigate through them and get a panorama of what is happening and get coverage from various fronts. There were 879 posts in a 182-hour period online. The service was fed daily by Editing and was focused on digital production and providing news service in real time", he said.

Folha experienced an outstanding audience during the days of the strike, declared the Editor in Chief. "Whenever there is important, unexpected or impactful news, internauts flock to the newspaper's site. It was no different this time: these were people who wanted hotter news, but also wanted service, analysis and interpretation. We closed out the month of May with 35.9 million (unique visitors). During the month there were 243 page-views, exceeding that of April, which was the month of president Lula's arrest. Most of the accesses were to Ao Vivo, a relevant service that Folha offers in situations like last week".

If this modality has the advantage of providing more agility to news coverage through immediate publication of journalistic production, the sheer frequency and volume of text makes hierarchy and comprehension of the general panorama of happenings more difficult. It isn't unusual for the collection of real-time entries to result in the publication of a succession of disjointed reports, with no real attempt to connect the facts.

Introductory coverage by an article presenting a theme, but not necessarily highlighting what is most important, creates reading distraction for those who are used to a more classical information hierarchy.

Last Monday (the 4th), for example, the introductory text was news from Sunday night and stayed that way for a long time.

The haste in which articles are frequently rewritten shows up in the final result: mistakes, lack of a narrative line, disparities in quality of fact-finding, focus and editing.

The long-lasting trucker stoppage took the experience of live coverage to the extreme, highlighting its difficulties and launching immense challenges.

A new world has been extended to the newspaper's readers, but it is still far from being admirable.

Translated by LLOYD HARDER

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