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The (Big) State of Brazilian Journalism

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Pitiful, how the Estado de S. Paulo metro daily has taken to the production of quasi-fake news of late, in the form of topical coverage of conference events produced by the newspaper itself for its various clients and then reported on as if objectively newsworthy. 

A recent example is the paper’s blanket coverage of an event on the evils of smuggling — the mighty Mississipian — Amazonian, I mean — Paraguayan Marlboro trade, mainly.

The clients and speakers have every appearance of being tobacco industry lobbyists. Or did anyone else get that, too?

Conference lecturers included Jose Serra, current interim minister of foreign relations, talking about drones for the borders ….

This event yielded the production of six consecutive inside pages, all with a slightly differentiated layout and theme, and with an extremely  modest label at the foot of the page, informing you that «this section is brought to you by the Special Projects arm of our advertising and publicity departments.»

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Flacks pitching directly to readers without the nuisance of critical intermediaries.

Di Franco — an advertorial talking head with a well-heeled outside NGO sponsor himself, and no stranger to mind-bending ethical casuistry — must be very proud.

Lobbies to newspapers: No need to pay so many journalists. We have plenty of flacks on our payroll!

The topic of contraband will continue to gain attention in between now and August, when another such conference is scheduled.

In addition to reporting on its own commercial activity as objectively newsworthy, the Estadão has also taken to selling its front page on occasion.

Perhaps most grotesque symptom of the syndrome is the recent introduction of an ad for a regional winery into the header of the Economy & Business section, directly across from the section logotype.

The name of the advertiser is Casillero del Diablo: the Pigeonhole Desk of the Devil  … an Argentinian brand if I understand correctly. Call me old-fashioned but I expect my business section to be buttoned-down and Bloombergian in its approach. Irony unwanted.

I am not able to drink wine any more, by the way, but I like the Chileans a lot.

Above: How in the hell did the ESP manage to report two different figures for supporters of the Rousseff impeachment on  the same day?