A classic among "click-baiting" ads is the promise, never fulfilled, of an enticing revelation, such as "secrets to transforming fat into muscle in a very short time." It's clicking and going through a long maze of phrases to frustration.
In the case of Folha's story about candidates for mayor of the capitals who did not declare their bank accounts to the Electoral Court, it was not necessary to go through a long labyrinth to achieve frustration.
"Confronted, Boulos corrects assets after omitting a bank account in a declaration of assets," the title said.
The combination of the verbs "confront" and "omit" with the word "patrimony" in a sentence about a candidate who, growing in the polls, has as one of his strategies to show that a popular car is the only good that has attracted huge attention.
It happens that, when clicking on the link of the article, the reader soon learns that Boulos, without any impact, had corrected the data shortly after being questioned - a bank account with a balance of R $ 579.53.
The text's content is true and, when exposing the finding (an account with a little more than half a minimum wage), it offers almost a kind of endorsement to the candidate, who comes out of the "denunciation" under the halo of moral suitability.
The problem is that the title is misleading and promises much more than it delivers.
According to a reader, this type of attitude arouses suspicion about the newspaper. "I don't say that the story is not important, but the title is biased. The disappointment was great," she says.
"The 'professionalism' of the newspaper seems to be based on the search for clicks and on defending undeclared interests," said another reader.
Folha has produced relevant material involving both the now runner-up in the polls, Celso Russomanno (Republicans), and Bruno Covas's deputy (PSDB), Ricardo Nunes (MDB).
In the midst of it all, it is as if, in order to reinforce its credentials for non-partisanship, the newspaper turned to Boulos, proving itself capable of treating all candidates with the same investigative impetus. In theory, it looks great.
The point is that this cannot be done by selling a pig in a poke. Perhaps it was a precarious display of impartiality, but even this underestimates the readers' ability to judge what is relevant.
The proof that Folha understands what to do is the title of a recent article that also addressed problems in declaring assets to the Justice: "Filipe Sabará, from Novo, rectifies declaration of assets and goes from R$ 15 thousand to R$ 5 million".
I have already spoken of the importance of having clear titles, as they are the main, if not the only, point of contact with the news. This is even more important during an election period.
Folha tried to repair the damage, including in the title the information that the "candidate says he has R $ 579.53 in the bank".
Once again, the readers themselves suggested other options: "Boulos declares R$ 579 that he had omitted from the electoral court"; "Boulos corrects declaration of assets to include a balance of R$ 579.53 in account"; "Confronted, Boulos corrects equity after omitting a bank account with R$ 579 reais."
As one reader recalled, quality journalism requires resources. If Folha wants to be impartial, invest in research, not in dubious or specious titles.
According to the Editorial Manual, selecting the most relevant events, ordering them according to their relative importance, facilitating their understanding, guaranteeing the quality of the content, and establishing links beyond the obvious are crucial procedures.
In addition to being disappointing in some of these aspects, the newspaper seemed to treat the reader as someone with reduced capacity to evaluate the information given to him and for whom the mere suggestion of equivalence of treatment among the candidates would be sufficient. It is the reader who suggests that it is time to mature this relationship.
In last week's column, I spoke of the newspaper's "certain delay" to capture the appeal of the story of André Oliveira de Macedo, André do Rap.
Regarding the statement, says the editor of Cotidiano, Luciana Coelho: "It is incorrect to say that Folha took a long time to capture the relevance of the case. We were the publication that first reported the release's decision, with the report on the morning of Friday (9) signed by Rogério Pagnan. The text was highlighted on the homepage and in the daily section.
On the weekend of release, we produced journalistic material, with the participation of teams from São Paulo and Brasília and the Editorial Department".
The publisher is right. As for the delay, I referred to the prominence on the first page of the form, proof that the ills of imprecision can also affect the ombudsman.
Reporter specializing in economics, she graduated in social sciences from USP and in law from Mackenzie. She has been the ombudsman for Folha since May 2019.
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon