"Lula promises to tackle crime in the Amazon if he returns to power." "Lula wants to lead the fight against climate change." Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's interview, on Monday (22), took place in São Paulo, but these headlines were not published in Brazil. Perhaps because the country has countless other issues to discuss, but not only that. Environment, climate, Amazon, everyone thinks that's important. In theory, that is.
"Lula defends alternation of power in Venezuela" was Folha's headline for the candidate's meeting with international correspondents. It is difficult to dispute the choice made. The newspaper article shows the former president commenting on various aspects of international politics, from South America to Taiwan, including Ukraine and the Palestinian state. As reported by The Guardian and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Folha also registers that the candidate spoke about the pariah Brazil has become as a result of the environmental disaster of Jair Bolsonaro, in just two paragraphs of the text, the last ones.
It is not an isolated case or an exclusive problem of this newspaper. The environment is a priority, but in a country full of problems to solve, everything becomes a priority. Owner of an important project in the area, Planeta em Transe, which promises to give relevance and continuity to the theme on its platforms, Folha until last week had not paid too much attention to the (little amount of) environmental discussion taking place in these elections. With the Rule of Law, coup-mongering businessmen, evangelicals, hunger, fake news, and the military, there was no shortage of subjects for the electoral headlines. The environment was left aside for the time being.
"Candidates aren't talking about it, and the media isn't asking about it either," says Claudio Angelo, a former colleague at Folha, who is now the communications coordinator for the Observatório do Clima (Climate Observatory). "This year's election is not a programmatic discussion, but almost a referendum on dictatorship and democracy. Amazonia has become a detail."
The fiscal issue at the beginning of the next term is anticipated, but Angelo recalls that the Amazonian detail will be a monumental tangle at the start of the new government. "Deforestation is going to skyrocket. There are tons of armed and powerful people, organized crime, and a reluctant army. The solution has become very complex, and the international pressure will be very strong. The next president will have to make choices."
The newspapers need to make some too. Angelo suggests looking at good examples in the British and American press. To get the best of them, the Guardian's environmental coverage is, in effect, an affirmative action. Readers need to be confronted with the effects of the climate crisis constantly because this is the "biggest problem currently facing humanity", wrote the newspaper as early as 2015.
Folha does the same with matters it considers relevant. The coverage of the Letters for Democracy is a recent example. The newspaper determined that the movement was in the public interest, period. You don't do this every day or with any subject, obviously. Reasons and arguments are needed.
There is a whole Amazon of them.
Alexandre de Moraes forced the newspapers to revisit the Metrópoles article by authorizing the operation on Tuesday (23) against the businessmen who exchanged coup-mongering messages in a WhatsApp group. The first version of the news in Folha had more space for the other side than for the fact itself. After the shock subsided and some days had passed, the press cannons were turned towards the Justice. More incisive in its attack, the newspaper on Thursday (25) published that "Moraes had the article as the sole basis for a decision against the Bolsonarista businessmen". President and allies shouted slogans of order and fury for the 7th of September.
In messages to the ombudsman, readers compare the current situation with that of the peak days of Lava Jato ( Operation Car Wash), with the difference that judicial activism, now criticized as a threat to democracy, went unnoticed at the time, notably by the media.
Folha published a video of Bolsonaro praying with ministers before his interview in Jornal Nacional. He took a picture of the palm of his hand all scrawled with topics he wanted to see discussed on the networks. Even a "know who it is" about the money-changer whose name appears on the cheat note. The president ripples the water, the press dives into it for the audience. It is a nefarious system for journalism.
Ruy Castro felt the need to explain how to do an interview. Flávia Boggio, how to spoil one. And the G1 website, to prove that Renata Vasconcellos did not wear red shoes to talk to Lula.
Folha, on the other hand, felt the need to use the conjunction "but" in three headlines with a positive bias towards the PT candidate. Only one title in the newspaper stated without further delay that Lula did well in his 40-minute interview in Jornal Nacional. The newspaper Estado de São Paulo did not dare. O Globo and Valor, did.
Translated by Cassy Dias