Going to the Amazon to do journalism is one of the most challenging jobs nowadays. And it's where the exercise of the profession is under constant threat. It is not an adventure, as President Jair Bolsonaro says, whose bravado sponsors a retrograde and opportunistic vision of the most important biome on the planet.
Traffickers, prospectors, land grabbers, hunters, and, we now know, even fishermen make life there a kind of wild west in the jungle. The Bolsonaro administration exacerbated a state of affairs that was already bad.
In 2005, an American naturalized Brazilian, Dorothy Stang, was shot seven times for defending the landless in Pará. The murder of the Catholic missionary opened up to the world the conflict zone that the Amazon had become. The exposure will be much worse now. The climate crisis and the ESG economy, among others, have raised the region to the level of global concern, one that you learn in school and enter into any business equation. Bolsonaro's country still does not understand these new times and will be haunted for the rest of the days if the fate of British journalist Dom Phillips or indigenous expert Bruno Pereira is as tragic as it lies.
At the same time that it denounced the leniency of the authorities, accused of inertia even by the Justice, Folha collaborated with the government's propaganda effort. Army publicity photos, with soldiers posing, even occupied the front page. It is the cost of coverage at a distance. The newspaper only reached the region where the pair disappeared this weekend. Competitors and The Guardian, for whom Phillips often wrote, landed earlier, as did several foreign journalists.
The coverage is very complex due to the size of the scenario and all the dangers already listed. Having recently lost a regional correspondent to a news agency doesn't help either. May the episode serve to establish not only Folha, but other outlets, in this vital and inhospitable corner of the country. The Amazon is a major journalistic challenge, with or without Bolsonaro. The national media cannot be limited to special sections and sponsored debates.
That's the easy part.
Folha updated its repository of convictions in the last week. The text "O que a Folha thinks", whose original version is from 2019, was changed in the entry "Aborto." As the editorial "Abortion with clarity." published on Monday night (6) and in the following day's print, explains, the newspaper defended a public consultation before any change. Still, now it preaches that "it is up to political leaders, authorities and scholars the courageous effort to enlighten society to expand the cases in which termination of pregnancy is not considered a crime." Abortion, for Folha, was and continues to be a public health debate.
Another entry that deserves a dusting on the sensitive topics list is "Environment." The complex issue deserves an almost laconic quote: "The newspaper followed the increase in concern with the subject over the decades while being careful to resist the exaggerations of fads and fundamentalism. It criticizes the reductionist dichotomy that opposes economic development and environmental preservation, as this in many ways also represents the opening of opportunities and new jobs." Yes, it sounds like a discussion from the past decade. Where is the climate crisis, the one that "predates and overlaps with other crises, due to the impact on everyone, people and sectors," as the newspaper stated in the Planeta em Transe project at the end of May?
Where are also the questions in regards to the indigenous, human rights, the predatory exploitation of biomes and oceans, the permanent calamity of the slopes in the cities, inequality, the increasing risks of boycott and international sanctions to the Amazon country?
X OF THE QUESTION
Financial agents do not do journalism. XP Investimentos proved last week, when it suspended the IPESPE survey—which it has sponsored since January 2020—after pressure from Bolsonarist phalanges. The outcry started the week before, when survey numbers showed Lula ahead of Bolsonaro in terms of honesty. Nothing different from what Datafolha and Folha support whenever research is published in the newspaper.
However, the interruption of data collection is a scandal, and the press, not just research institutes, should be more concerned about the repeated attempts to demoralize voters' taking a pulse, part of the democratic process. September promises to be heavy, with even more aggressive reactions to lifts, when they will be at a crucial stage. The gang will have to be more Arturito than XP.
José Henrique Mariante
Trained as an engineer and journalist, Mariante has been a reporter, correspondent, editor and editorial secretary at Folha, where he has worked since 1991. He is the ombudsman.
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon