Folha celebrates 100 years of existence this Friday (19). Few organizations, regardless of their activity, reach this milestone. And even fewer reach this milestone in professional journalism. The current state of journalism has made the centenary club a lonely one.
The newspaper is not the same as it was in 1921, obviously, when it appeared as a modern and restless counterpoint to the elite newspapers. This trait came to define its DNA and give the paper the scrappy " immigrant spirit."
From the end of the 1970s and into the following decade, Folha gained national prominence first by opening its pages to public debate and then with the campaign for direct elections. This spirit and those practices still guide its conduct and its relationship with the public today.
Most regular readers know that the paper is committed to non-partisan, critical, and pluralist journalism. Although these principles remain unchanged, the pursuit of these objectives always requires the paper to analyze and often adapt its daily practices.
Non-partisanship implies keeping a distance from political forces so that the paper can independently scrutinize power in all its forms and instances. A media outlet driven by political and ideological preferences would not have been able to unearth hidden facts on federal governments as different as those of PSDB, PT, and the current president.
In expressing its point of view, which it does only in this editorial section, the newspaper defends ideas, never embracing candidates or associations. These opinions are subject to periodic reinforcement with new data and arguments, or even reformed with mandatory transparency.
The newspaper is known to be flawed and does not intend to impose certainty—this is what moves its diversity. Its pages will continue to be open to opinions from all sectors representing society and to different versions and interpretations of the facts, without abandoning the task of searching for the most reliable account possible, presented attractively on any platform.
The critical atmosphere and the urgency of time involved in news production require counterparts so that excesses, injustices, and unavoidable errors are corrected. Folha is the only one of the mainstream Brazilian media outlets that has an ombudsman—a professional in charge of supervising itself. The rectification of information is daily, explicit and mandatory.
In a microcosm, the newspaper reflects the most successful mechanisms of governance ever conceived by humanity: the democratic rule of law. Because individuals are driven in part by passions and interests, harmonious and independent institutions must be created, which, by their interference, prevent tyranny and facilitate the inclusive progress of the entire national community.
Folha does not believe that Brazilian society's material and spiritual development is possible outside the framework of representative democracy. Poverty and inequality will only be reduced as more sections of the population have access to opportunities, whether through economics or politics.
It is necessary to dilute power. This will not be accomplished without the supervision of the Powers instituted over the Executive, in the public sector, nor the surveillance of professional journalism, in civil society.
Through the Enlightenment consensus, the newspaper also advocates the defense of individual and minority freedoms, diversity in its most comprehensive form, and the sovereignty of science over obscurantism.
For the first time under the 1988 Constitution, media outlets like Folha face a leader of Brazil who worships autocrats and torturers.
The repeated desire for the destruction of the independent press that so often comes from the president's mouth is a manifestation of a deeper setback, against the bonds that prevent him from wearing a scepter and crown or a military uniform.
The advantage of a century-old newspaper at this time is to cast an historical gaze. The energy now spent to preserve hard-won freedoms will not have been in vain. Anxieties will be overcome and the march of civilizing conquests will sooner or later resume.
The leaders of despotism will remain along the way, extinguished by the fog of time. Folha's cause is bigger and stronger. The newspaper will continue to make its contribution to the adventure of fair, democratic, and solidary development in Brazil over the next hundred years, as long as it maintains its commitment to the right to information from His Excellency, the reader.
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon