Degree requirements to practice journalism in Brazil could be about to make a comeback. On Tuesday, Aug. 7, the Senate approved a bill to amend the Constitution that would reestablish degree requirements for journalists after the Federal Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional in 2009, reported the website Terra.
The bill received 60 yeas and 4 nay votes in the Senate. It now moves on to the Brazilian lower house, the Chamber of Deputies. If the Chamber of Deputies modifies the bill, it will move back to the Senate for approval, according to the website Último Segundo.
Since the bill would alter the Brazilian Constitution, if it passes both chambers of the legislature the requirement would go into effect regardless of the Supreme Court’s previous opinion, explained G1.
In a press release, the National Federation of Journalists, one of the bill’s major supporters, celebrated the vote. “The Senate is absolutely in tune with public’s opinion regarding journalists, and took a step toward correcting this incomprehensible decision by the Court that eliminated requirements to practice the profession,” the statement read.
Not everyone was pleased with the Senate’s vote. Senator Aloysio Nunes argued that “the practice of journalism speaks directly to freedom of expression and thought and cannot be subject to any legal or constitutional requirement,” according to Estadão. The bill’s author, Senator Antonio Carlos Valadares, attributed criticism of the bill to media companies looking to hire reporters without a journalism degree at lower salaries.
The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas’ series of articles exploring the possible return of degree requirements showed that the debate divides professionals, educators, and students. Many states already require a specific degree to work in communications, despite the Supreme Court’s decision.
Journalism groups like the Inter American Press Association and the Brazilian Association of Journalists interpret the return of degree requirements as an attack on freedom of the press and the Constitutional guarantee to free thought.
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.