By Eduardo Ribeiro | Publisher, Jornalistas Editora| São Paulo
February 10, 2021
It has been 10 years since we, at Jornalistas publishing house – which recently launched MediaTalks – began the process to rank the most awarded Brazilian journalists and media brands under a system that consolidates local and global awards. These are classified by relevance – even those that no longer exist but used to be relevant in the past.
The result is + Premiados (Most Awarded), which provides an ‘x-ray’ of the media ecosystem in Brazil, a country usually included in the list of nations surveyed by leading global studies. These include, amongst others, those of the Reuters Institute and the Edelman Trust Barometer. Moreover, Brazil is also recognised as one of the countries that has been recently threatened by unacceptable attacks on selected media.
Despite the sinister nature of these threats, Brazilian journalism has several reasons to be proud. One of them is the growing role of women in our newsrooms. This undoubtedly poses a challenge for many countries where men still dominate the news media.
Indeed, the Most Awarded ranking reveals that the journalists who won the most awards in 2020 were women. And going back further, the journalists who won the two most coveted awards over the last 10 years are courageous and brilliant women. Furthermore, the media brand that has won the most awards is headed by a woman!
Special reporter and Folha de S.Paulo columnist, Patrícia Campos Mello, whose story has long transcended Brazil’s borders, was the top Brazilian media professional, receiving the most awards in both 2019 and in 2020.
Historically, journalists Eliane Brum, from El País (Portuguese language edition), and Miriam Leitão, from Grupo Globo, have shared the most number of awards since the creation of + Premiados. Moreover, Metropoles, the digital newspaper created five years ago, was the media outlet that garnered most awards in 2020. And that too, is headed up by a woman – Lilian Tahan.
We do have great male journalists in Brazil, of course. However, it is significant that the most important awards are currently being won by female professionals.
The brave Brazilians journalists holding the most powerful to account.
The recognition of Patricia Campos Mello for her courage is more than deserved. Since 2018, after publishing the report “Entrepreneurs have supported a campaign against Workers’ Party” via WhatsApp, in which she denounced undeclared investments of R$ 12 million by supporters of the then candidate Jair Bolsonaro as ‘unlawful’, she has come under serious attack from various social media outlets.
This despite the fact that Campos Mello has received international recognition for her work and is the recipient of the prestigious Maria Moors Cabot Award, the oldest journalism award in the world granted by Columbia University.
None of this has guaranteed her protection from these social media attacks perpetrated by individuals and public authorities aligned with the current Government.
Fortunately, the legal system in Brazil is independent and committed to democracy. On 21 January, one of President Jair Bolsonaro’s sons, Eduardo Bolsonaro, was convicted for having suggested in a live interview aired by a news channel sympathetic to the current Government, that Campos Mello must have offered sexual favours in exchange for privileged information.
She is not the only one to challenge the status quo. Eliane Brum is one of the most recognised Brazilian journalists locally and abroad. In addition to El País, she often writes for other international publications such as The Guardian.
In one excellent article, Brum plainly explains to a global readership how Brazilians truly felt in the worst days of the pandemic when confronted by the bizarre statements and actions of President Jair Bolsonaro.
“Obtained exclusively by EL PAÍS, the analysis of the production of ordinances, provisional measures, resolutions, normative instructions, laws, decisions and decrees by the federal government, as well as a survey of the president’s public speeches, draws the map that has turned Brazil into one of the countries most affected by Covid-19 and that, contrary to other nations, still lacks a vaccination program with a reliable timetable.
There is no way of telling how many of the more than 212,000 Covid deaths in Brazil might have been avoided if the government led by Bolsonaro had not executed a project with a view to spreading the virus. But it can reasonably be said that many people would still have their mothers, fathers, siblings or children alive today were it not for the existence of an institutional project by the Brazilian government to spread Covid-19.”
In reading the above extract, it is easy to understand why she is the recipient of so many awards. Brum has twice been awarded the IAPA/SIP and also received the ‘Ibero-American King of Spain’Award. In Brazil, she won the legendary Esso Award and astonishingly, has received the Vladimir Herzog Award five times; the Mulher Imprensa six times and the Comunique-sefive times!
Another Brazilian journalist Miriam Leitão,who together with Eliane Brum, has shared the most number of Awards over the past 10 years, also has a personal and brutal struggle history. Leitao was arrested and tortured during the military dictatorship that governed Brazil between 1964 and 1985.
Since those days, Leitão has become one of the most respected commentators on economics and politics, with a prominent presence on TV Globo, GloboNews, Globo newspaper and CBN radio. Her work transcends the cold numbers contained in corporate financial balance sheets. Leitão speaks and writes from a social perspective, engaging in causes such as climate change and racism.
In 2013, she travelled through the Amazon forest with the renowned Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado to tell the story of the dispossessed Awa tribe.
Her long list of awards includes both international (Maria Moors Cabot and Economic Ibero-American) and national (Esso, Vladimir Herzog and Ayrton Senna). Leitão is also a lauded book writer, having won two Jabuti awards.
In 2020, HBO launched the series “Em Nome dos Pais”, produced by Matheus Leitão. The series explores the backstory behind the criminals who reported on, and tortured his parents, journalist Miriam Leitão and Marcelo Netto, during the dark days of the military dictatorship.
Metropoles, a digital native – born to make history.
Lilian Tahan, head of Metropoles digital newspaper, has similarly been recognized. Her recognitions include the prestigious Esso Award, but the + Awarded granted to Metropoles in 2020 is perhaps the most significant achievement in her career.
It is not easy to compete with giants such as Globo and Folha de S.Paulo, respectively in second and third places, but Lilian and her team did exactly that! Metropoles’ achievement is a welcome sign of renewal in the Brazilian media landscape.
Layoffs and a campaign against quality journalism.
Nevertheless, awards and recognition cannot hide a sad reality. Despite the ongoing invaluable public service provided by quality journalism during the pandemic, the industry continues to struggle.
At least three leading newspapers in terms of circulation announced layoffs at the end of last year. Jornal do Commercio, O Globo and O Estado de S. Paulo cut around 60 editorial jobs altogether. Correio Braziliense, the first newspaper in the capital city Brasilia, has been forced to postpone payment to staff, which has inevitably led to strikes.
Unfortunately, this is not the worst of it. While media organisations face immense challenges to survive in this unprecedented economic crisis much aggravated by the pandemic, the Government’s campaign against quality journalism is of much greater concern.
The Brazilian President discredits, discriminates, cuts funds and even instigates attacks by sectors of the population against those media organisations critical of his administration. Conversely, he opens doors for those channels that toe the line and supports the Government on its policies and controversial handling of the coronavirus crisis.
It has not been easy. Nevertheless, we trust that the many courageous women and men who have been determined to keep the public informed, will continue on their often perilous path of sustaining Brazilian quality journalism. With confidence and hope we can look forward to better times.
Proofreading: Ian Hughes (journalist, writer)
Eduardo Ribeiro is the founder of Jornalistas Editora, which publishes the weekly newsletter Jornalistas & Cia, reaching 75,000 professionals across all Brazilian newsrooms, agencies and corporate communication departments; and Portal dos Jornalistas, which covers news from newsrooms and the communications sector, with more than 100,000 unique visitors per month.