In recent days, more than the thousands of deaths – including civilians, women and children – in the conflict in Gaza, statements by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) about Israel’s attacks on the Palestinian people have occupied headlines and news broadcasts. Brazilian commercial press vehicles.

On a visit to Ethiopia, during the African Union summit meeting, Lula expressed concern about the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East and demanded that rich countries take a more active stance on the ceasefire, as well as more aid to Gaza.

On the occasion, the head of the Brazilian Executive stated that the country condemns the actions of Hamas – a Palestinian Islamic group –, but that it also cannot fail to condemn the actions of Israel, classifying them as “genocide” of the Palestinian people and comparing the situation in the region to the Holocaust, when Jews were killed and persecuted by the Nazis.

To better understand the reaction of the Brazilian press to the president’s speeches, as well as the stance adopted by several commercial vehicles in relation to the coverage of the conflict in Gaza, the Press Brazil spoke with the journalist, researcher and executive coordinator of Intervozes – Coletivo Brasil de Comunicação Social, Iara Moura.

In addition to analyzing the editorial options of Brazilian media, she commented on the risks of the rise of so-called “declaratory journalism” and on the role of popular and counter-hegemonic communication in humanitarian crisis scenarios.

Check out the full interview below:

Pulsar: How do you evaluate the Brazilian commercial media’s coverage of the conflict in Gaza, especially in recent days, after President Lula’s recent statements against the Israeli government’s stance? Why did the president’s statements generate such controversy here?

Again: We, at Intervozes, have assessed that Western media coverage, and specifically Brazilian media, of what is happening in Gaza is very in-depth coverage. In fact, the Brazilian commercial media has opted for an editorial line that is sensationalist, not very in-depth, Manichean and racist.

A coverage that reinforces stereotypes, that links the Palestinian population to “terrorism” and that reduces the genocide process to a process of defending the State of Israel, as if it were a legitimate and proportional defense of the borders. We see that it is coverage that does not delve into the history of violations that the State of Israel imposed on the Palestinian population. After all, it’s not today. This was a bomb about to explode and which has already been classified by Amnesty International and international organizations as a state of apartheid.

Today Gaza reached the sad milestone of 10 thousand civilian deaths in just one month of offensive. And when we see the Brazilian media’s choice, in the last week, to divert the focus from the death of civilians among the Palestinian population and turn all their attention to criticizing President Lula’s position, we prove this analysis that there is no compromise with the deepening of understanding about this conflict.

There is no commitment to recovering and disseminating the historical, political and economic roots of this scenario. There is no commitment to construct an in-depth narrative about the current situation of the Palestinian issue and how it implies disrespect for a global humanitarian issue.

When the media makes this choice – commercial TV channels, news programs such as Jornal Nacional, Jornal da Record and Estadãoto cite a few examples – of opening up enormous space for sources that criticize President Lula’s stance on the ceasefire, we see that it is an option that does not put information and life first.

I even wonder what the newsworthiness criteria are in these cases. Perhaps it has much more to do with political positions critical of the Lula government and the interest in capturing clicks than with journalistic interest and journalistic ethics itself.

Iara Moura is executive coordinator of Intervozes – Coletivo Brasil de Comunicação Social (Photo: personal archive)

How do you analyze the relationship between traditional media and social networks in this case, especially considering the way in which the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, has used official government profiles?

We have also seen a tendency towards what we call “declaratory journalism” repeated in the coverage of international conflicts and wars. Journalism anchored in official statements, including on social media, and often guided by the speed of social media. A journalism that does not allow itself to go deeper, that does not seek the contradictory. Which is restricted to sharing narratives from state leaders and government representatives through social media.

This is not just a characteristic of the coverage of what is happening in Gaza, but it is a trend that we have observed in journalism and that has to do with several factors, such as, for example, the precariousness of journalistic work and the reduction of positions of work. But it is also an editorial line that prioritizes speed, which prioritizes the “packaging” of facts to produce clicks and an audience without worrying about the quality of this information.

This issue of the use of social networks by heads of state and government spokespersons as the main means of producing information ends up giving them the power to determine which narrative will prevail.

It is important for us to be aware and understand – the press, communication professionals – that declaratory journalism is not enough. Because otherwise we will become a transmission belt for these unofficial or official narratives.

What to do, then, in this scenario? What is the role of counter-hegemonic communicators and media – especially those operating in Brazil – in a context like this?

Counter-hegemonic and popular media become fundamental when we are faced with a situation of humanitarian crisis such as the genocide of the Palestinian people. Especially when we think from the Brazilian context, where we have a very large media concentration and which has not progressed towards a communication scenario open to diversity of ideas, plurality and participatory and democratic regulation. It is in these moments of acute crisis that we open our eyes to the vital importance of popular community and counter-hegemonic means.

Just as we saw in the coverage of Covid-19, it is the community and popular media outlets – which do not have profit as the basis of their editorial line – that maintain the ethical and political commitment to the dissemination of quality information.

It is in these moments that we see their vital importance, which, despite the services provided, remain so lacking in their own public policies, financing, guarantees of sustainability and their independence and autonomy.

Editing: Jaqueline Deister


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