Movement for degree requirement to practice journalism gains steam across Brazil

Nearly two years after the requirement to hold a media-related degree to practice journalism was declared unconstitutional by the Brazilian Supreme Court, bills supporting the reinstatement of the requirement are advancing in legislatures nationwide.

Deputies in Alagoas state decided that only those with journalism degrees can be hired by the state’s executive branch, overcoming a veto attempt, Gazeta Web reports. Similar bills have passed in the states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul.

The city of Curitiba, Paraná is holding a town hall meeting to debate whether municipal media workers should be required to have a degree. The Rio de Janeiro state journalism union is looking to pass a similar bill for the state government.

Even though Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes said that any attempt to reinstate the requirement would be declared unconstitutional, a similar law has already passed the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies and will be voted on by the Senate in the next several days.

Organizations like the National Journalists’ Federation (FENAJ) and journalism unions nationwide have campaigned in favor of the degree requirement and are lobbying federal lawmakers to reinstate it. In March 2011, FENAJ organized a caravan to Brasilia to gather support for a constitutional amendment. The group also says it has enough votes to pass the amendment in the Senate.

The degree requirement is opposed by the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) and the Brazilian Journalists’ Association (ABJ), who argue that the laws are a step backwards and represent an assault on the freedom of expression and the press guarantees in the Brazilian constitution.

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.