Ombudsman says Brazilian paper hurt itself by taking down parody blog

  • By
  • January 10, 2011

By Maira Magro

In a Jan. 9 column, the ombudsman for the Brazilian daily Folha de S. Paulo said the paper’s case against the Falha de S. Paulo (São Paulo Failure) parody blog was more harmful than the blog itself.

“Falha” was taken offline in October, after a court order obtained by Folha. The newspaper argued that the suit was not to meant to censor the blog’s content, but rather to put an end to the use of a logo and domain name "virtually identical" to that of the newspaper. However, the creators of Falha – brothers Lino and Mário Bocchini – accused the newspaper of censorship. The court order generated a storm of online criticism, and journalists worldwide expressed their support for the bloggers.

Folha’s ombudsman said she does not agree that case involved freedom of expression, but was simply an attempt by the paper to protect its brand. However, Singer said “it is not good for a progressive media outlet – and one that considers itself the ‘newspaper of the future’ – to restrict a blog.” The column concludes that “in this battle of David against Golliath, the role of the the evil giant fell on Folha, which has had its image hurt much more that if it had simply ignored the little rocks thrown by the blogging brothers.”

On the site “Apologies for our Falha,” the Bocchini brothers criticized the column – which called their content “course” and “insulting” – sarcastically saying: “Suzana Singer’s column opened our eyes. We hadn’t realized how cruel we were.”

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.