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Ombudsmanliness | Suzana Singer


In today’s print edition, Suzana Singer of the Folha de S. Paulo chides her reporters and editors for their “chronic” lack of impartiality. The brief note follows, in translation.

The top headline in Tuesday’s edition announced: “Insufficient care marks the management of SUS according to World Bank.”

The story is based wholly on the negative, critical findings in the World Bank report, which has studied the last 20 years of SUS as a national healthcare service.

The congratulatory portions of the report, such as praise for making the system more accessible, was ignored by the Folha.

One comes away with the impression  that the World Bank condemned SUS.

The story was one more example of the paper’s chronic pessimism.


In a column last week, Suzana also addressed the constant pressure on journalists to take the official story and run with at any cost. An example: Coverage of the Mandela funeral.

A senior Folha editor is quoted as saying,

The major dailies did not send photographers to South Africa. We saw no need for it. We knew we had access to ample photographic coverage at our disposal.

Content sharing is no doubt prolonging the death of the newspaper as branded merchandise produced and consumed daily. It is a tricky process, grafting a venerable brand onto a very new set of information production and distribution processes.

On the other hand, if the Brazilian papers hope to build a global news agency as El Pais is, it needs boots on the ground. The Spanish metrosexual daily, a leading client of Innovation-Media Consulting, a powerful strategy group incubated at the University of Navarra.

At first glance, it seems the news agency will provide regional and local coverage that it shrewdly observes to be there for the taking. Brazilian news inhabits “Planet Brazil” and has very little to say even on relevant topics such as the political climate of Uruguay and Paraguay. It leads today with the victory of Bachelet in Chile — which is bombarding Brazilian TV with tourism invitations, as is Peru.

That is all very well, but look at me: I jusst sit around studying local media from a social networking point of view. I should be getting off my ass and interviewing somebody, if only by e-mail. I fail to do so, in part, because I am deathly afraid of the cops. I matured into a professional in the genre of business journalism, where you get handed a huge volume of publicity material and get a few fleeting questions in during Q&A time. It was a rhythm I can live with.