• March 2010
    M T W T F S S
    « Feb   Apr »
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    293031  
  • Pages

  • Marginalia

  • Accumulations

  • Advertisements

Hacks x Flacks: Globo and the GIGO Fallacy Fallacy

The Fundamental Attribution Error is to explain one’s own behavior and opinions as rational reactions to external circumstances and to the available data, while attributing the behavior and opinions of others to their emotional state and psychological biases. — SkepticWiki

Comunique-se, a trade mag for the Brazilian journalism and PR rackets — under Brazil’s odd industrial classification scheme, the two are considered one and the same racket — reports.

A few years ago, the presiding magistrate of the Labor Tribunal of São Paulo — where my late father-in-law used to practice — was found guilty of involvement in a scheme to inflate the costs of putting up a fancy new building for the court, then skim money off the top.

The federal court hearing the case issued a press release at the time the judge and accomplices were arrested and charged.

The Globo nework’s version of the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, the Jornal Nacional, got the story wrong.

In a follow-up, the JN — its Dan Rather is a guy whose name is pronounced “boner” — attributed its own error to the press release prepared by the federal court’s PR guy.

The flack sued Globo, and won, pointing out that all the other news organizations that received the release managed to Ctl-C, Ctl-V the facts accurately.

Technically, this is a case of the “fallacy fallacy” — fallaciously attributing fallacy or error to another.

Here, the fallacy falsely attributed is the GIGO — “garbage in, garbage out” — fallacy.

A news organization evoking the GIGO fallacy is problematic in the first place, however — as the judge in the libel case points out.

It would seem to imply that the reproduction of facts stated in press releases, with no independent corroboration, constitutes the practice of journalism.

Personally, I prefer to read the original press release on PR Newswire. After all, some very talented and high-paid English majors worked hard to write these things, and write them well. I have written some myself.

And unfortunately, sometimes journalists do garble them in translation — which is why they call us “hacks.” Talk slow and use short words. I majored in journalism.

Na ocasião, a Globo noticiou, no Jornal Nacional, que além do ex-juiz Nicolau do Santos Neto, condenado por desvio da verba destinada à construção da sede do Tribunal Regional do Trabalho em São Paulo, e de Monteiro de Barros e José Eduardo Corrêa Teixeira Ferraz, a mulher de Nicolau, Maria da Glória Beirão dos Santos, também estaria envolvida no esquema e que sua prisão teria sido decretada. Após perceber o erro e ser informada do equívoco, a emissora atribuiu a “barriga” ao então assessor de imprensa da Justiça Federal de São Paulo, no noticiário do dia seguinte.

At the time, the JN reported that in addition to the the ex-judge, later convicted along with two others of embezzling money destined for the construction of the court building, the judge’s wife was also involved in the scheme and that a warrant had been issued for her arrest. After perceiving the error and being informed of the mistake, Globo attributed the error to the public relations director of the São Paulo federal courts in a report aired the following day.

O jornalista questionou a atitude da Globo e entrou com uma ação por dano moral. No processo, Novaes alegou não ter relação com o erro, já que outros veículos como a Record, Folha de S. Paulo e Estadão receberam a mesma informação e divulgaram de forma correta.

The journalist [public relations professional] questioned Globo’s action and filed suit for damage done to his reputation. Novaes alleged that he had nothing to with the error, noting that news organizations such as the Record network, the Folha de S. Paulo and the Estado de S. Paulo had received the same release and published the correct information.

O relator, desembargador José Joaquim dos Santos, que preside a 6ª Câmara, disse que o texto do assessor foi claro e não mencionava nenhuma denúncia contra a mulher do juiz aposentado. O desembargador enfatizou que a emissora deveria ter apurado o caso e não ter anunciado que a informação incorreta foi transmitida pelo assessor de imprensa.

The president of the Sixth Chamber, assigned to report on the case, said the release written by the professional was clear and contained no mention of charges against the judge’s wife. He emphasized that the broadcaster should have independently confirmed the facts rather than blaming the public relations director.

The “flack,” who now works as a “hack” for Globo’s bitter rival, the Record network, received 200 minimum salaries, or about R$100,000, in damages.

The judge wrote

Não se vê como, ademais, reduzir o valor estipulado. Leva-se em conta a grande repercussão que tem a matéria ofensiva à reputação profissional do autor, considerando que a divulgação dá-se no âmbito do Jornal Nacional, sabidamente de grande audiência, como, aliás, por ela é apregoado”

No reason for reducing the award was found. Taken into account was the ample distribution of the report offensive to the professional reputation of the plaintiff, given that it appeared on the JN, which is known to have, and indeed itself boasts of having, a vast audience.

I wanted at this point to take a look at the famous Globo Standard of Quality for its news products, but the document is hard to google up.

In 2006, Globo reportedly set to work expanding the internal document:

A TV Globo fará a ampliação de seus “Princípios de Qualidade”, documento de 2001 que define os valores éticos, as responsabilidades e missões da emissora. Uma comissão, encabeçada por Octavio Florisbal, diretor-geral da Globo, deve elaborar também as normas de produção para novelas e telejornais, algo inédito na TV brasileira. A informação é da coluna “Outro Canal”, da Folha de S. Paulo.

TV Globo will expand is Principles of Quality, a 2001 document that defines the ethical values, responsibilities and missions of the broadcaster. A commission headed by Octavio Florisbal, CEO of TV Globo, will also elaborate production values for soap operas and news programs, a step unprecedented in the history of Brazilan TV. The information is from the TV column of the Folha de S. Paulo.

The presence of this “unprecedented in history” meme — a key indicator of the “rhetoric of the technological sublime” suggests the Folha might also have been merely rewriting the press release.

O manual de telejornalismo, inclusive, deve ser incorporado por este novo documento – mas pode ser lançado antes, sozinho, em livro, assim como este novo documento. O manual atualizado servirá como auto-regulamentador da TV Globo, batendo de frente com o Manual de Classificação Indicativa do Ministério da Justiça que, para os executivos da emissora, engessa a programação e limita a criação.

The manual of TV journalism will also be incorporated into the new document, but could be launched earlier as a book. The updated manual will serve as a self-regulatory mechanism for TV Globo that clashes directly with the Manual of Program Ratings published by the Ministry of Justice, which Globo executives say places undue restraints on programming and stifles creativity.

If Globo ever made public a document with that title, the Google bot does not seem to know about it.

It is referred to, however, in reference to certain controversies that have arisen about Globo programming.

For example, it was originally reported that the Principles of Quality would veto a gay kiss in the soap opera Duas Caras (Two guys/two faces).

Later, however:

A TV Globo recuou da decisão de nem sequer gravar uma cena em que dois homens se beijariam no último capítulo de “Duas Caras”. Ontem de manhã, a produção da novela foi informada de que a emissora decidiu gravar a cena.

Globo has retreated from its decision not to film a scene in which two men kiss in the final chapter of Duas Caras. Yesterday morning [26 March 2008] the production team was informed that the broadcaster had decided to go ahead and film the scene.

O diretor Wolf Maya pretende gravar a cena de uma maneira que ela possa ser mostrada. O material só irá ao ar se for aprovado pela cúpula da Globo. Tanto a direção da Globo quanto o próprio Aguinaldo Silva têm sido pressionados, principalmente pela Igreja Católica, a não mostrarem o beijo.

Director Wolf Maya intends to film the scene in such a way that it can be aired. Globo management and script writer Aguinaldo Silva have been pressured, mainly by the Catholic Church, not to show the kiss.

Globo has standards, but you are not allowed to see them.

Under these standards, gay kisses during the family hour are okay but then also not okay.

The main takeaway here is that TV Globo has a unified set of rules governing the production of both fact and fiction.

The host of Big Brother Brasil is the same “journalist-actor” who anchors the Sunday evening “news” magazine, Fantástico.

Which just about says it all.

Source: TV Globo, Fantástico (my subtitles)

What this particular hate crime against the reality-based community might have to do with the fundamental attribution error, in the psychological sense — “the tendency to over-value dispositional or personality-based explanations for the observed behaviors of others while under-valuing situational explanations for those behaviors” — I will have to ponder.

The GIGO fallacy as employed by climate change skeptics. Source: ClimateProgress.org

Advertisements