In Brazil, in 2019, the debate over press freedom is accompanied by the intensification of the political polarization that has taken place in the country since 2014, as well as the risks of this polarization for the exercise of journalism and, consequently, for democracy.
This is the main issue on the agenda at the 11th Press Freedom and Democracy Forum, which will take place in Brasilia this Thursday, May 2, with the theme "Era de Radicalismos" (Age of Radicalisms). The event has been promoted annually since 2008 by Revista and Portal Imprensa on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, celebrated globally every May 3rd.
Sinval de Itacarambi Leão, director of the Imprensa Editorial, told the Knight Center that the event aims "to refine the political debate," which he says has been marked by extremism since the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff in 2016.
"Brazilian democracy, since the impeachment of President Dilma, has been affected by currents so polarized that it has led to hatred and the issue of eliminating the opinion of others, of competitors. This climate has worsened with the 2018 elections,” Leão said.
The 2018 election, marked by aggression against journalists who covered the race, led to the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro, notorious for hostility to the press critical of him and his allies. The president even used false information to attack a reporter investigating suspected corruption by his son Flávio Bolsonaro, a senator for the Social Liberal Party (PSL for its acronym in Portuguese) in Rio de Janeiro.
"The press has as one of its obligations this educational dimension in favor of both democracy and the great causes that are generated within civil society,” Leão said. “A forum that places the issue of press freedom at the center of the debate draws attention to what is fundamental, to what is the root” of democracy, he said.
The event, which will be held in the auditorium of the Brazilian Bar Association of the Federal District (OAB-DF), begins at 2 p.m. with the table "Press freedom in times of radicalism in the history of Brazil." The conversation will be between Leão and Murillo de Aragão, president of the Council of Social Communication of the National Congress, auxiliary organ of the Congress provided by the Federal Constitution of 1988.
Next there will be two panels for debate; the first on "the challenges of fear, hatred and generalization" in journalistic coverage, mediated by Pedro Burgos, journalist and professor of journalism at Insper, with Ricardo Noblat, journalist from O Globo and columnist at Blog do Noblat, Tiago Mali, head of newsroom for the site Poder360 and André Marsiglia Santos, partner-director of the office Lourival J. Santos Advogados. Santos is the representative of Crusoé magazine, center of a recent case of censorship on the part of the Federal Supreme Court (STF), which was criticized nationally and internationally.
The second debate will address the "security of journalists: the balance between freedom, security and responsibility." It will be mediated by Cristiana Lôbo, journalist from GloboNews, in conversation with Emmanuel Colombié, Latin American director of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Juvenal Araújo, undersecretary for Human Rights of Sejus/DF, Manuel Martinez, a correspondent in Brazil for the agency Xinhua (China) and El Espectador radio (Uruguay), and Thiago Tavares, president of the organization SaferNet Brasil and advisor to the Comitê Gestor da Internet in Brazil (CGI.br).
A speech by Adauto Candido Soares, coordinator of Communication and Information of UNESCO in Brazil, on the work of the agency to strengthen the security of journalists in the country is also scheduled.
The closing lecture of the forum has the theme "Divergences and Consensus" and will be delivered by Ana Amélia Lemos, former senator and former candidate for vice president in 2018 with Geraldo Alckmin, and current president of the Milton Campos Foundation and Secretary of Federal and International Relations of Rio Grande do Sul. Angela Rehem, founding partner of Libertas - Strategies in Governmental and Institutional Relations, will be the moderator.
The forum will not be streamed live. Registration is free