Fists fly as Brazilian journalists face attacks while covering municipal elections

By Isabela Fraga

Hostilities against journalists and bloggers in Brazil leading up to municipal elections do not stop at censorship; media professionals also face a rise in attacks by candidate supporters. A news team from the magazine Época was threatened and forced to delete the pictures taken on their camera in the state of Minas Gerais, the publication announced Saturday, Sept. 15. In the northeastern state of Ceará, a television reporter was attacked while filming a package on Sunday, Sept. 16, reported the newspaper Tribuna Hoje.

The attack on the magazine journalists took place during an investigation into allegations of vote buying. Journalist Marcelo Rocha and photographer Emmanuel Pinheiro were in the city of Betim, Minas Gerais, interviewing a group of teamsters caught on tape receiving money in exchange for supporting mayoral candidate Carlaile Pedrosa.

Rocha told the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas in an e-mail that during the interviews another teamster approached, asking why the journalists were there and soon after the two were threatened. "Another wanted to come at the reporting team with a piece of wood but his colleagues held him back," he said. The union members also demanded that Pinheiro delete any photos he took in the city.

In Ceará, a supporter of candidate Ilário Marques punched Monólitos TV reporter Wal Alencar in the city of Quixadá, reported the newspaper Diário de Pernambuco.

According to the website G1, the pugilist could have been the politician's campaign coordinator. Alencar reported on camera that Marques supposedly held a political meeting in a public school building, a practice that is illegal during elections. After the attack, Alencar showed moxie and finished filming the report with a bloody face.

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.