The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

“Openness and transparency can help journalism reaffirm its value with the audience, creating the conditions to leverage new business models.”

If 2016 was the post-truth year, 2017 will be the year of transparency for Brazilian journalism. More than a prediction, it’s a necessity for professionals and publications that want to reaffirm a contract of confidence with the public.

moreno-cruz-osorioThe good news is that there’s room to mend our relationships with readers, viewers, listeners, and Internet users, and the way to do that is to be honest and attentive to the public. This is one of the many lessons learned from the 13 contributors to the project O jornalismo no Brasil em 2017 (Journalism in Brazil in 2017), a series of texts inspired by Nieman Lab’s annual Predictions For Journalism series. It was a joint project of Farol Jornalismo, which is dedicated to the research of trends in journalism, and the Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo (Abraji), the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism],

O jornalismo no Brasil em 2017 provides insights into the present and the near future of the complex and exciting journalistic scene in the largest country in Latin America. For this piece, we’ve selected some highlights of the project, from seven of the 13 predictions that were published.

As in the U.S., we in Brazil are experiencing increasing polarization via social networks. If there the situation seems to have exploded with the election of Donald Trump, here it had a climax during recent developments in the political crisis that has affected the country for over two years. After the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, we went through an impeachment process for President Dilma Rousseff and municipal elections. The result: In 2016, the number of Facebook shares of fake news about Lava Jato (Car Wash) — an operation responsible for scrutinizing corrupt relationships, especially involving politicians and large corporations, often compared to the Clean Hands Italian operation of the 1990s — was larger than the number of shares of true news.

In O jornalismo no Brasil em 2017, Tai Nalon, the director of Aos Fatos, a pioneering Brazilian fact-checking initiative, draws attention to the need to verify content. For her, next year, social networks should become a place where news should be checked, not just spread. This, says Nalon, will work to prepare us for the 2018 presidential elections in the country.

Although it is essential, fact-checking has its limitations. Total objectivity is unreachable, writes Rogerio Christofoletti, professor at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina and coordinator of the Observatório da Ética Jornalística (ObjETHOS, or Journalistic Ethics Observatory). Hence the importance of transparency as an essential part of journalistic ethics. He recalls cases in which the Brazilian audience demanded that old journalistic pacts were kept when media vehicles tried to get closer to the public by mistakenly appropriating languages and attitudes that are typical of social networks.

It is necessary to leave this arrogant and paternalistic attitude behind, since readers often no longer depend on conventional journalism for information. “Nowadays, it is expected for individuals and organizations to be accountable and to give explanations. Journalism does not exist outside of the society and can not deviate from this requirement,” he writes.

Openness and transparency can help journalism reaffirm its value with the audience, creating the conditions to leverage new business models. That’s what Pedro Burgos, a Brazilian journalist who is part of The Marshall Project team, writes. Like Nalon, Burgos used the post-Trump situation to propose reflection on what we can learn from the latest developments in U.S. media. Besides the increase in subscriptions that traditional vehicles such as The New York Times have had after the election, he notes that nonprofit initiatives are receiving more investment. This creates an opportunity, he says, for journalists to develop strategies that can show the public the value of our work — something that has already been demonstrated by Stanford economist James T. Hamilton in Democracy’s Detectives.

The economist Frederic Kachar, Globo’s general director of print media, bets on reinventing the relationship with the public as a way of recovering from declining revenue. “Having impressive numbers and pageviews is not enough — it’s necessary to have a qualified audience that sees enough value in good journalism to pay for it,” he writes, mentioning the creation of a new way of working that would be capable of delivering good journalism 24/7. It is necessary to invest in the “essence of professional journalism.”

In this new way of working, sending a professional to cover a story with a camera to take a single photo is an outdated practice, predicts the documentary maker João Wainer. The definition of 4K video cameras allows the extraction of frames and their publication with excellent quality, both on paper and on the internet. “It’s the end of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s ‘decisive moment,’ but whoever confuses it with the end of photography is wrong,” writes the documentary maker, highlighting the new role to be played by the photo editor and the importance of the “specialized look that will once again make a difference.”

The question is how to put all these innovations into practice in Brazil. When writing about national investigative journalism in 2017, Folha de S.Paulo newspaper reporter Rubens Valente predicts that high-quality journalism — the type of work that can differentiate itself from the content on social networks and make a difference — will face structural challenges. Getting smaller and smaller and still steadily reducing staff, traditional newsrooms find it difficult to invest in surprising themes and approaches, as they need to focus all their efforts on the huge amount of day-to-day news.

In parallel with the situation of legacy media, Brazilian journalism has seen a considerable increase in the number of new journalistic initiatives over the last two years. While on one hand this has oxygenated Brazilian journalism with specialized coverage, often offering points of view different from the traditional media’s, it has also brought professional instability and the risk of journalists losing their credibility, their greatest asset, in favor of the causes to which they dedicate their work.

This is the prediction of the journalist Sérgio Lüdtke, author of research on Brazilian digital journalistic enterprises. He says that in order to mitigate these two threats, more planning must be on the horizon of journalistic entrepreneurship in Brazil in 2017. When creating a business plan, entrepreneurs in the journalistic market will have better chances to answer questions that are essential to the survival of their product, both financially and in relation to the transparency pact mentioned by Christofoletti.

Moreno Cruz Osório is cofounder of Farol Jornalismo.

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Earn trust by working for (and with) readers

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

Maria Bustillos   “It’s true — I saw it on Facebook”

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Mario García   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Richard Tofel   The country doesn’t trust us — but they do believe us

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Nushin Rashidian   A rise in high-price, high-value subscriptions

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

Trushar Barot   API or die

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Tressie McMillan Cottom   A path through the media’s coming legitimacy crisis

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Lam Thuy Vo   The primary source in the age of mechanical multiplication

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Errin Haines   Chaos or community?

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

Anita Zielina   The sales funnel reaches (and changes) the newsroom

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   News after advertising may look like news before advertising

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls