Not Now

Folha ends Agora São Paulo and a press era ends in São Paulo

A short note in the column "Painel S.A.", published on Wednesday (24), announced the end of the Agora São Paulo newspaper. Its last printed issue circulates this Sunday (28). The website, which only reproduced the content of the paper, is frozen. Daily readers will be offered the possibility of transferring their subscription to Folha. To the journalists in the house, the idea of moving to the elder sister's newsroom. "The decision of Grupo Folha followed economic criteria based on circulation and advertising data."

Such numbers and additional information were later provided by the newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo. Agora had 32,517 subscribers in October, 36% less than two years ago, according to the IVC, as the competitor wrote. It was created in 1999 to replace Folha da Tarde, which had been circulating since 1924, continues the text. "Therefore, the end of the publication closes a story that began almost a century ago," he concludes, in a tone appropriate to the decision.

It is also the end of a long trajectory of working-class periodicals in São Paulo. Popular News, Jornal da Tarde, Diário Popular, then Diário de São Paulo, Folha da Tarde, then Agora. It would not be inappropriate to include the sports Lance! on the list. Anyone who has passed a newsstand in recent decades has certainly cranked an eye out for some curious headline, creative cover, football taunts and female bodies. Times are different and certain things no longer fit.

They were competing titles, but on different tracks. They were alternatives, serious or not, to the newspapers in the city, Folha and Estadão. They fell, each in turn, for different reasons, but mainly due to lack of revenue or investment, depending on who measures the water in the glass.

Agora's end was delayed, but not exactly because of its renewal in the late 1990s. Its great merit was that it aged along with its audience, directing efforts towards the subject that mattered most and sold copies: retirement. In recent years, it was very rare for a newspaper's headline not to deal with the subject, either in the form of news or in the form of a service. Monotonous option only for those who do not live in a country with permanent discussion about Social Security and economic policies that fluctuate. If you don't understand, ask anyone over 50 years old.

Agora, however, ends before its audience. The easy explanation is the internet. The printed newspaper model does not hold up, and Folha looks to be next It is a worldwide phenomenon, dramatic in countries with a large readership. The number of small diaries, some centenarians, that closed in the US is great, causing the so-called news deserts. The consequences for these regions are serious, ranging from less control over the actions of local public agents to greater dissemination of false news. Studies on the problem have been carried out. Even social networks are concerned, supporting mitigation projects.

Something similar occurs at the regional level in Brazil. Many newspapers in the interior have already closed their activities. Becoming a website is not an option for many. With the end of Agora, São Paulo sees its semiarid range widened, which includes some of Folha's neighborhoods.

In addition to taking advantage of the adjacent newsroom's expertise in retirement and popular economy, Folha absorbed from its partner various types of content, from prosaic titles about Mega Sena contests to relevant police, sports and local political news, the result of synergy or lack of resources, again depending on who looks at the cup. The newspaper will need discipline to keep the wheels turning, at least the ones that bring audiences to its website.

None of this would be a problem if the transition from print to electronic was a smooth path, a change of culture to be grasped by the newsroom and arranged in stages for the public. But it's more like a bloody revolution, with different challenges around every corner. Content sprouts on screens from people without journalistic qualifications, as well as from well-prepared personnel paid by advertising agencies, companies, investment banks and others. Social networks change the rules of the game constantly. IT departments, critical in these new environments, consume budgets that are already limited. The list only grows.

In this great mess, one of the few advantages of newspapers like Folha is having a recognized brand, based on a professional way of doing journalism. The risk is to see all this lost along with the obligatory discarding of the superfluous, as one day the printed material will be treated. Extending the aquatic metaphor, when we throw the baby out with the water in the basin. It doesn't come back.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon