Brazilian radio manager shot in front of his home becomes first journalist killed in 2013

By Alejandro Martínez

A Brazilian radio station manager was gunned down in front of his home on Tuesday Jan. 9, becoming the first journalist to be killed in the continent this year, Reporters Without Borders said.

Renato Machado Gonçalves, 41, was a founder and joint owner of the eight-year-old radio station Rádio Barra FM in São João da Barra, a city in the Brazilian northern state of Rio de Janeiro. News website G1 said Gonçalves was returning home from a family gathering yesterday evening when an individual on a motorcycle called out his name and shot him at least three times. Gonçalves was taken to a local hospital, where he died of his injuries.

The motive remains unclear but local authorities are investigating the killing as a crime of passion, a political crime or retaliation for something, G1 said. Gonçalves’ brother-in-law said nearby cameras recorded the crime but no one has been arrested as of Wednesday afternoon.

RSF said the manner the crime was carried out “clearly indicates that it was a targeted murder.” One of Gonçalves’ colleagues agreed but told the organization he did not believe the killing was politically-motivated since the journalist had not received any threats or been covering any controversial stories recently. However, he said, Gonçalves was physically attacked during a political meeting during last October’s local elections.

"The victim’s profession as a journalist will have to be taken into account in the coming investigation. While paying tribute to Gonçalves and sending our condolences to his family, we reiterate our concern from the safety of journalists in Brazil after a particularly lethal 2012,” RSF said in a statement. The organization said it will publish a report on media freedom in Brazil later this month.

RSF recently named Brazil the fifth most dangerous country for journalists in 2012. Last year five journalists were killed in Brazil related to their work, while other journalists, like veteran investigative reporter Mauro König and Folha de São Paulo reporter André Caramante, had to leave the country because of threats.

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.