The past week was not good for Folha. An excessive response and a serious omission, with a late reaction, marked the newspaper's performance, among other faults.
On Monday (13), an article published in the late afternoon showed that investment in health in the state of São Paulo fell 23% in the first two years of the João Doria administration. The numbers do not include fixed expenses such as salaries and expenses. The tucana administration said that the offer of services increased, not always through investment, and that the pandemic increased other types of expenses that would later revert to the population.
The newspaper considered the story important, so much so that it shared the headline in print the next day. Before that, however, the press office of the Health Department sent a letter to the editor, with a copy to the ombudsman. "Folha de S.Paulo makes errors in several points...", the missive begins, which, however, fails to point out a single factual error in the report.
On Tuesday morning, the article received an amendment. One paragraph, about the secretariat sending a note, and the full text of it in sequence: more than 4,000 characters, something like half of the original article, unstating almost everything the newspaper had written in the previous paragraphs.
Without editing, the text is now composed of the article, on the other hand, and a fierce criticism of the report, which consumes space equivalent to eight messages, the maximum size allowed, on the Reader's Panel, for example. Not being enough, in the Wednesday edition an article by Secretary Jean Gorinchteyn was published in Tendências / Debates. Of eight paragraphs, four practically repeat periods of the appended letter.
In general, Folha corrects its errors in the Corrections section. It is one of the few newspapers in the world with a fixed and visible space for corrections. Serious errors sometimes result in the editing of new text. In the case at hand, none of this was triggered, which leads to the obvious conclusion that there are no repairs in the news. Now, if there were reasons for the double publication of the government's arguments, the story should have been rectified in some way.
Worse, the unusual deference sets a precedent for other complainants. If it doesn't open, it's just deference.
Both alternatives are bad for the newspaper.
On Thursday (16), Globonews aired in the morning a report about Prevent Senior. A dossier held by Covid's CPI states that the health plan aimed at the elderly used patients as guinea pigs in research on hydroxychloroquine and omitted seven deaths, among other lurid details. Over the next 24 hours, it was the subject of most websites, TV channels and social networks. Except for Folha, who only woke up to the fact at 10:27 am on Friday.
The story is very strong. In the absence of its own investigation, journalism in such cases indicates the reproduction of other people's information, with due credit and considerations. Delaying so much news that affects the public that consumes the newspaper was not an alternative.
SICKLE OR KNIFE?
Folha managed to be beaten from almost all sides in recent days. New Datafolha poll, which detects Jair Bolsonaro's record disapproval, was received with irony and contempt for the fringes of the right, the extremes and the less so. Whoever followed the social networks minimally must have come across quotes to "Datafoice" and confronting the numbers with images of clusters in the 7 de Setembro coup. The date served to give the president a photograph, as he repeated several times, of what went without even having been.
On the left, the newspaper was immolated for publishing a critical article on the documentary "Bolsonaro e Adélio, the Fake in the Heart of Brazil," launched by the website Brasil 247, in line with PT, with more than 1 million views on YouTube. The film is a compendium of theories and arguments that the 2018 attack in Juiz de Fora was forged by the then presidential candidate.
I do not enter into the merits of the issue here, although I personally find it impossible to combine silence or versions with dozens, perhaps hundreds of people. The film is there to provoke discussion, and readers demand that Folha and the press in general be asking for further investigations into the episode. There is no media willingness to enter the subject. I don't think there really is, but for practical reasons, not ideological ones.
Another complaint is about the tone of the article, starting with the title, which speaks of a "fantasy thesis." The text supports with facts that she is fanciful, you can't see a problem there. In some excerpts, however, it is possible to notice excitement with the underlining of obvious aspects not contemplated by the director. It would have been appropriate to make a more neutral wording.
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon