Brazilian journalists launch campaign against harassment in the profession

Last week, Brazilian journalists released the campaign Journalists against Harassment in order to denounce cases of harassment against media professionals and to raise public awareness about the issue. The campaign was created after the firing of a reporter who had reported having suffered sexual harassment during an interview with a Brazilian musician.

"The pillar of this campaign is to try to deconstruct a discourse of harassment that has existed for decades and is very ingrained," said Janaina Garcia, one of the organizers of the campaign, to the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. "When a compliment constrains, or when a source puts the journalist in some embarrassing situation to provide public information, this is not a compliment anymore, it is not in jest. The reports are common, but they are not normal."

On Twitter, professionals used the hashtag #jornalistascontraoassédio (#journalistsagainstharassment) to share stories involving sources and co-workers.

On Saturday, the group released a video during the closing of the 11th International Congress of Investigative Journalism, organized by the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji for its acronym in Portuguese), to give greater visibility to the campaign.​

The organizers also released a manifesto emphasizing the importance of publicizing cases of sexual harassment in the profession. ​

"Harassment is one of the remainders of our everyday machismo," the statement said. "To expunge this through complaints and information is a task not only of women but of any journalist who wishes to, in fact, see a society less unequal in terms of opportunities, concepts, rights and duties.”

For Garcia, the impact of the campaign shows the urgent need to discuss the issue: the movement brought together 5,000 women around the topic in just one weekend. Currently, the group has more than 15,000 followers on Facebook. The group also hopes to bring men into the discussion.

One of the initiatives of the movement will be to debate the issue in Brazilian universities. The first event will take place on June 30 at the School of Communications and Arts of the University of São Paulo (ECA / USP).

"I hope that my generation can look at these ‘jests’ in another way," Garcia said to the Knight Center. "This work needs to be done with the next generation of journalists, so that future professionals will be aware that this is an issue that needs to be part of our day-to-day. We have to make it a constant debate. "

About the case

On June 3, news portal iG published an article in which a reporter from the outlet denounced the singer Biel for sexual harassment. During an interview to publicize the musician’s new album, the singer called the journalist "gostosinha" (“juicy”) and other offensive names, and made comments with a sexual connotation to the reporter: "Girl, if I catch you, I’ll break you in half."

Audio excerpts from the interview were made available by portal iG.

In a statement to the publication Delas, of portal iG, the journalist reported the embarrassment she faced during the interview. ​

"It comes the moment he wants to offer me a kiss, or test his sexuality, and again crosses the professional barrier. He was there talking, asking for a kiss or flirting. I was there because it's my job,” she explained.​

She also described the emotional upheaval she suffered after the interview.​

"I got into the taxi and was shaking. Then, I started crying. I remembered the people in the room who were laughing, everything I heard once, twice, four times. When I left, I realized everything that happened, so many things that I have heard in ten minutes, and that's when you realize the absurdity of the situation," she said.​

The identity of the 21-year-old journalist is being preserved. The news article about the interaction between the singer and journalist was authored by the executive editor of behavior and entertainment of Portal iG, Patricia Moraes. ​

After the news broke, Biel commented on social networks characterizing the interaction as "banter" and saying that "it was all a misunderstanding." Later, the singer released an apology for offending the reporter.

The case is being investigated by the Women’s Police Station of São Paulo. ​

Fourteen days after the publication of the news article, the journalist who reported the case was dismissed. A week later, the editor who signed the report was also fired. According to Portal Imprensa, she was forbidden by the company iG to publish news stories about the case, and her resignation was attributed to "cost cutting".​

Portal iG has not commented publicly about the dismissals. ​

Janaina Garcia criticized the stance adopted by portal iG to not comment publicly on the resignation of reporter. ​

"This is symbolic of how harassment is still a taboo. The woman reports a case that needs to serve as an example, then come the layoffs. This leaves a very negative message to other victims of this problem, not only among journalists but among victims of harassment in general,” she said.​

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.

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