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Mutatis, Mutantes | Is Civita The Tropical Murdoch?

Civita is our homegrown Murdoch: The Observatório da Imprensa (Brazil) reprints this editorial response from CartaCapital magazine.

The little newsweekly that could — brainchild of Veja founder Mino Carta and like-minded friends —  deconstructs a recent O Globo editorial alleging that the argument «Roberto Civita is our homegrown Murdoch» fails to mutante the mutatis properly, and allegedly stems from Carta’s pro-government bias. The author is Mino’s son, Gianni, who often reports from New York and Rome.

It is always interesting in cases like this to observe how the extremely, in hard numbers, modest circulation and dimensions of CartaCapital are overlooked in making it out to be a demonic organ of totalitarian state control of the media.

I think that if I were in charge of strategy I would do my utmost to appear coolly dismissive of a mere gaggle of the so-called «progressive blogosphere». SEO profiling of this kitchen cabinet shadow media suggests a very limited modestly growing readership for  political blogging along Huffingtonian lines.

I would also not counsel going after critics like Luis Nassif with vicious libel and SLAPP suits.

When Nassif prevails, as he did recently in winning the right to response to a Veja attack dog, he assumes the mystique — well deserved — of a noble tilter at windmills.

Abril, in the meantime, seems cynical for complaining (1) that government advertising is being used to attempt to influence public opinion and (2) that it is not receiving its fair share of government advertising.

A blogger went through the print editions over the past several years and found that Veja receives more federal and state government advertising than any of its peers. Veja’s own circulation numbers are a little foggy, and there are troubling developments with regard to its monopoly over print distribution in the São Paulo and other major markets.

We have seen with our own eyes, in rural São Paulo, newsstands 100% dedicated to Abril print product, even as an anonymous  group was observed removing CartaCapital from newsstands in Goiânia and the Federal District to prevent the spread of accusations against Abril.

A selection, in translation:

Policarpo Jr., editorial director of Veja’s Brasília office, exchanged  200 phone calls with Charley Waterfall. The numbers racketeer alleges that he was the real author of “all the magazine’s scoops», and says he is ready to detail the stories he pitched to Policarpo to the congressional commission.  

Did the CEO of Abril,Roberto Civita, 75, know the identity of the source of all those «scoops» of his company’s most successful publication? If subpoenaed to appear, will he admit that Veja committed ethical breaches? Making journalistic use of a known criminal with ties to senators, congressmen, governors and a public works contractor violates the first rule of journalism, that of taking into account the various points of view on a given subject.

Civita will most likely not provide the commission with satisfaction. This, for two reasons: First,  because the major dailies and TV Globo are acting in concert to make sure this does not happen. The racketeer, currently behind bars, had a predilection for «scoops» involving the PSDB-linked major media, generally members of the leftist PT and government ministers. Secondly, because journalists from other publications also obtained their scoops from Waterfall. For this reason, the story of Policarpo Jr. and the need to subpoena Civita have been left out of news coverage. .

Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch, 81, Britain’s most powerful media mogul, has been cross-examined for hours on end by the Leveson Inquiry, beginning in November 2011. The U.S. Senate has even been in touch with British investigators to determine whether News Corporation has broken any domestic laws. …

[ … ]

«The Big House and its Defenders» — Mino Carta responds to Globo and says Civita is the Murdoch of Brazil-zil-zil! …

The casa grande is the big house of the plantation owner, contrasted with the senzala, or slave quarters.

It remains a potent metaphor.