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Ich Bin Berliner | The Impartiality of Zero Hora


Source: Comunique-se

Commissioned by the state Secretary of Communication and Digital Inclusion in Rio Grande do Sul, a market research survey has caught the attention of the state accounting watchdog, the MPR, which has petitioned the state accounting tribunal (TCE) to investigate the case.

The study asked 2,400 subjects about the  “impartiality” of the daily Zero Hora, of the RBS group.

The survey was conducted in April 2013 by the company Foco Opinião e Mercado Ltda. of Santa Catarina, and was commisioned by governor Tarso Genro (PT). According to the Estado de S. Paulo, the survey cost the state some R$400,000.

Regarding the principal question posted by the survey —  “Does Zero Hora cover the state government with impartiality?” — prosecutor Geraldo Da Camino of the MPC, author of the challenge to the study, said that “the purpose and public interest of the study are hard to understand, and the survey itself may be an unc0nstitutional  abuse of the power of the purse. ”

He also says that “among the topics discussed, the inclusion of some is questionable, ” such as, for example, “a question that asks the respondent to compare the Genro administration with that of his predecessor, Yeda Crusius (PSDB).”

At the moment, a technical team at the TCE is studying the case.

Journalism director of the RBS group, Marcelo Rech says the situation is a strange one.  “The use of public funds to compare the coverage of private news organizations is strange, to say the least, especially because the government is seeking to deepen its understanding of a single news organization: Zero Hora.

It comes as no surprise, however, that the survey, conducted in April, indicated that the majority of the public do consider Zero Hora impartial.

A number of commentators asked whether it really matters whether Zero Hora is impartial or not. Which is a good question, were it not that there exists no free and open marketplace of ideas, just the oligopoly of the Sirotsky clan.

Side note: Zero Hora was one of the first newspapers in Brazil to adopt the Berliner model — tabloid-like in construction and quality, but less quantity, in content.  Le Monde pioneered the format in France, and was imitated by Les Echos; The Guardian and The Observer are other examples.