Jornal do Brasil, traditional daily in Rio de Janeiro, re-launched its print edition after 8 years as digital-only newspaper

In a move contrary to global trends in journalism, the traditional newspaper Jornal do Brasil (JB) returned to the newsstands on Feb. 25 after eight years after it closed its print edition and became a purely digital media outlet.

On Sunday’s revival, the circulation of 40,000 copies was sold out by around 11 a.m., the newspaper reported. The second day of JB's print edition was "practically sold out," according to businessman Omar Resende Peres, president of the new incarnation of the print publication.

The focus of the re-launch of the newspaper will be newsstand sales, Peres told Folha de S. Paulo. Omar said that a survey indicated there is a potential of 50 to 100,000 readers per day in Rio. The cover price is R $5 (about US$1.54), the same price of competitor O Globo. In a posting on Facebook, the businessman explained that the unusual business plan makes sense because of the emotional memory the JB brand has among the Rio public.

"What dwells in the soul does not die," Peres wrote. "This is Jornal do Brasil, which still 'lives in the soul' of generations of Cariocas who miss the newspaper and will have it again in their hands daily. [...] to strengthen the brand and show that JB is back, it is vital that its thousands of readers who dream and are faithful to the newspaper, see it materially, as in the past.”

The special re-launch edition, with four sections and 52 pages, had no reports, but rather texts of memory about the history of the print newspaper and articles of opinion about its importance. Among the invited writers were politicians such as Brazil's President Michel Temer and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, as well as journalists such as Alberto Dines and Paulo Henrique Amorim.

Jornal do Brasil is one of the most traditional newspapers in the country, founded in 1891. In 1959, it underwent a graphic and editorial reformulation that would inspire a trend in Brazilian journalism, according to O Globo. One of the innovations was Caderno B, the first cultural supplement of the Brazilian press, in which reporters and collaborators had stylistic narrative freedom.

However, poor management and accumulation of debt led to crisis for the company, and in 2001, the brand was leased to businessman Nelson Tanure, according to the Center for Research and Documentation of Contemporary Brazilian History (CPDOC) of the Getúlio Vargas Foundation.

The last print edition of the newspaper circulated on Aug. 31, 2010. The CPDOC added that Alberto Dines, former newsroom director for JB, stated that the history of the newspaper could be summarized in two periods: "a century of glory and two decades of agony."

Team and costs

As JB editor-in-chief Gilberto Menezes Côrtes told Folha de S. Paulo, about 30 journalists make up the JB team and will be assigned special reports, articles and columns. Additional content will be provided by the agencies Estado, France Press and Lance. Among the team members featured in the newspaper’s first issue, there are experienced names who have been with JB before, such as columnist Hildegard Angel, politics editor Octávio Costa and special reporter Marcelo Auler.​

Infoglobo, a group of the newspapers O Globo, Extra and Expresso, was in charge of the printing and distribution of the newspaper, according to Folha de S. Paulo. In November 2017, Omar Peres told newspaper O Dia that the project has low operational costs –the calculation was R $1 million (about US $308,000) per month. "The company has to generate this revenue," he said. The businessman, sole investor of the new print product, sublicensed the brand at the end of 2017

Besides the print publication, the new Jornal do Brasil also has a YouTube channel, JB-TV – according to what Peres wrote on Facebook, part of a "revolution in electronic programming" for the brand. Still according to the businessman, the print publication will be "a bridge to the future" for the newspaper that will eventually exist only on the web. "It is clear to me that this is the future and I have no doubt that the print edition will end. Humanity will only be informed by electronic media," he wrote.

Click here to read the full version of this post in Portuguese.

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.