Media enters Brazil's presidential election duel

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  • October 28, 2010

By Maira Magro

In a contentious environment heading into the second round of presidential elections taking place Oct. 31, several media outlets have entered the battle.

The most recent examples come from abroad: the British paper the Financial Times published an editorial in support of opposition candidate José Serra (PSDB). A week earlier, The Economist also said “José Serra would be a better president than [governing party candidate] Dilma Rousseff” (PT).

In Brazil, two major publications have come out in direct editorial support of the candidates: the newspaper Estado de S. Paulo for Serra and the news magazine CartaCapital for Rousseff.

Other battles are taking place outside of the opinion pages. Veja magazine has published cover stories openly against Rousseff, one of which accuses her of having contradictory positions on abortion rights. The following week, IstoÉ came out in defense of the candidate by publishing a cover parodying Veja’s coverage. It included an identical layout, but focused on contradictory statements made by Serra about campaign scandals.

In the absence of distinguishing campaign platforms on major issues, political coverage at this stage of the election has focused on the competing accusations and social issues like religion and abortion.

The signs that the conversation has moved almost entirely away from a concrete policy debate are on everywhere in the papers with stories like Serra having a roll of duct tape thrown at him and Rousseff narrowly avoiding being struck with a water balloon.

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.