Who's in Charge Here?
Elite and Alternative Roles in the Brazilian Press
WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
ELITE AND ALTERNATIVE ROLES IN THE BRAZILIAN PRESS
By: Vicki Mayer
Department of Communication, University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive, Mail Code 0503
La Jolla, California 92093
[log in to unmask]
Who's in Charge Here?
Elite and Alternative Roles in the Brazilian Press
Since Brazil's redemocratization in the 1980s, the numbers of print
media owners have diminished due to new economic and political constraints.
However, this is not to say that mainstream journalists work solely in the
interests of their elite management. Both mainstream and alternative
journalists occupy spaces within and outside of the elite classes. Based on
interviews, these journalists and their editors demonstrate how elite and
alternative views intersect in news production.
Who's in Charge Here?
Elite and Alternative Roles in the Brazilian Press
Many academics today question whether the largest democracy in
Latin America today has one of the least democratic media systems on the
continent. Brazil, for all of its political and social diversity, fosters a
winnowing oligopoly in the area of news production. Beginning with the
abertura, or "opening" of democracy in 1982, free market economics has
bankrupted many small and alternative publications and driven their journalists
to the five large newspapers and two news magazines that compose the "Grande
Imprensa," or national press. For most academics, this distilling process in
the media has guided analyses that depict Brazil's news media as highly
instrumental tools of their ideological owners. Yet, these analyses ignore
important insights into the roles that Brazilian journalists occupy in an
ongoing struggle between elites in mainstream and alternative presses. In
reality, members of the mainstream and alternative presses can make claims to
both elite and alternative perspectives in their aims to define Brazilian
journalism as their own terrain.
In 1991, I spent a number of months in Rio de Janeiro and Sao
Paulo, Brazil talking with members of the Grande Imprensa and the alternative
media. Although the journalists spoke euphorically of their country in light of
the 1988 presidential election, the first in forty years D they also realized
the economic and social problems their media was incurring. The new president,
Ferdinand Collor de Melo, was first the governor of the state of Alagoas, where
his family formed most of the entrenched aristocracy that still ruled most of
the state. Collor's campaign to "decentralize" the Brazilian government via
privatization began almost immediately to the delight of the majority of
Brazilian and international elites. However, these measures, along with strict
economic austerity programs, further divided an already hyper-stratified
society. Within months of Collor's inauguration, inflation rates soared,
putting a monetary crunch on the state and financial crisis on the people who
could least afford to earn less and pay more for basic necessities.
In 1991, the printed news reflected the elite issues in this
crisis: foreign debt negotiations (especially an attempt by the International
Monetary Fund to restructure the Constitution to facilitate debt payments,) the
rise in crime (especially a rash of kidnappings that were directed at upper
class,) land and property invasions by the poor, and the breakdown of state
social services, such as health and education (which encouraged the spread of
cholera towards Rio and Sao Paulo). In this atmosphere, Brazilian journalists,
both mainstream and alternative responded in interviews to the question, "How do
you represent Brazil?" in a way that is not adequately addressed by previous
inquiries into elites' hegmonic stranglehold over Brazilian media.
I. The Grande Imprensa
The role of the elites in mass communication is key to
understanding how the media functions and reflects Brazilian culture to the
general public. According to Barbosa Lima Sobrinho of the Jornal do Brasil, a
national culture ought to reflect the totality of actions, standards and beliefs
of a nation's population. If that is correct, though, then the role of who
controls informational media for the exchange of culture is vital to
contextualizing Sobrinho's vague description of culture. For example, the
Grande Imprensa is considered a "national" press, hence one would suspect that
it transmits "national" culture. However, an examination of the role of elites
in Brazilian media in comparison to the roles of marginalized peoples might
demonstrate that the Brazilian media and the culture it transmits is far from
representative of the majority of Brazilian people. Brazilian journalism and
journalists operate within a social context that gives meaning to debates over
"professionalization" and "modernization."
The media's owner is one place to begin this inquiry, because the
owners exert some control on their publications, its style, themes, and other
productive forces. Censorship is the owners' primary power over their
publication. They can decide what articles are newsworthy for their papers as
well as the opiniative angle from which the article will be presented. Dines
states simply, "Who makes the editorial line is the owner." Ant nio Carlos
Fon, a journalist, believes that:
In the function of their own economic
interests, the businessmen [of the media] use their own
mediums of mass communication to defend ideas and
postures of the groups that best identify with those
Those economic interests, above all, are to defend free economic
markets for their industries to thrive upon. For that reason, Roberto Pompeu de
Toledo, the Specials Editor at the national news magazine, Veja, suggests that
Brazilian media owners, such as Vitor Civita of Veja or Julio Mesquita of Estado
de Sao Paulo, would not be in favor of articles that support communism or
state-controlled markets. He adds, "Of course Civita and Mesquita would be
against coverage that would advocate reducing their power." Antonio Callado,
a journalist and writer, continues this line of inquiry, linking the Grande
Imprensa to the "establishment." "The Grande Imprensa will not threaten what
it needs in order to live," he said.
Perhaps Roberto Marinho used his ownership power over his newspaper
more extensively than any other media owner in Brazil. Many Brazilian and
foreign journalists noted that Marinho has used the power of direct censorship
over undesireable political reportage both on TV Globo and in national Globo
newspapers. "Marinho conducted a secret campaign during the dictatorship
against direct elections," Toledo said. Many journalists also knew that even
before the military regime, Marinho personally disliked Worker's Party leader
Ign cio Lula da Silva and populist Governor Lionel Brizola, and he had no qualms
with manipulating press coverage to reflect that. Yet even Marinho's power is
not unlimited over press coverage in his publications. Toledo explained that
"Globo was tied to the military leaders until the hostile masses protested in
front of it. Globo had to change and publish the news that was censored before
this time." Marinho's power though is probably the most externally observed
by journalists, because he has intervened directly to slant coverage and
political opinions propagated in his papers in almost every election since
abertura. In 1988, Globo's role in supporting Ferdinand Collor de Melo in the
presidential elections was widely known. After Collor won, Marinho ceased to
manipulate the news so directly (but, like other owners, did not cease to use
manipulative power.) Even Toledo admits, "Globo and Marinho are distant today.
The paper criticizes the government now like it never has before."
In this way, Brazilian journalists and academics see the question
of the role of the elite in the media as the question of usually the direct
control of owners over the the newspaper. Censorship, however, can can take a
direct or indirect form. Of course, no one thinks that the owners are
completely omnipotent, but many journalists believe that newspapers can be
"free" of controls and and "independent" of limits. Few journalists interviewed
analyzed the economic restrictions of their publications, perhaps because their
personal wages are sufficient to provide editors with a comfortable living
standard, or maybe perhaps journalists are unconscious of how economic,
political and ideological constraints, like the high cost of newsprint, could
affect their coverage of the news. Alberto Dines clarifies that owners' power
are also limited by the basic formation of large industries in Brazil. The
capitalistic system in Brazil mandates that the media has to sell their products
in order to survive. Owners, editors and journalists are limited from doing
anything they want by participating in the capitalist system. Journalism
professor, Veronika Paulics clarifies the point that journalism is an occupation
that fulfills certain necessities of the capitalist system:
Capitalism has discrete forms of buying
journalists. As the owners did in the past, today the
and its press accessories pay well. Only those who truly
journalism do not work onyl for the money.
Capitalism is efficient at restricting journalists' desires to work
for any altruistic opening of communication to the general public. Furthermore,
many journalists do not see self-censorship as an issue, nor do they see
themselves as part of an elite class in Brazil, like the Marinhos and the
Owners work under economic constraints. Zuenir Ventura, the
Special Editor at Jornal do Brasil, and Mino Carta, the creator and director of
Isto /Senhor D two other media members of the Grande Imprensa D also noted that
owners have been hard pressed in the past decade by strict austerity measures
from the state. Ventura said, "The newspaper is an industry, like a factory,
that needs publicity and advertising from the elites and their readership."
For example, Carta implied a economic relationship between the government and
Veja, their competitor. He said, "Officially, Veja is favored over Isto ,
because the people at Veja have a $130 million contract with the Brazilian
government to publish the Brazilian yellow pages." Carta also implied that
Veja has lost its autonomous stance in relation to the government. "Veja
twists the facts to reflect a pro-government position.... [because] Editora
Abril wants to keep their contracts with the State intact," he said.
Reading audiences also enforce limits on the newspaper's editorial
line. Most newspapers aim for upper and middle class readers, so that "the
power of the dominant class is reflected in what is considered news," according
to Callado. The very language used in the newspapers even address the
dominant classes. Articles from the Grande Imprensa use erudite Portuguese.
Reflects the linguistic experiences of a
group of superiors in Brazilian culture. And [these
experiences], for this reason, are inaccessible to the
citizen, who did not even pass elementary school.
Language, is this case, has two effects on the presentation of the
Grande Imprensa. First, the language signifies that journalists are part of an
elite that has to learn to write in this manner. Second, the language signifies
that newspapers want a audience that has been schooled in formal Portuguese (and
has the purchasing power to attract advertisers): the upper class.
This linguistic elitism is not present in all newspapers. In fact,
"popular" newspapers papers in 1991 sold as many papers as the national press on
certain days, but they do not belong to the Grande Imprensa. The popular press
distinguishes itself in part by adapting more informal language to their papers.
Recently, though, many members of the Grande Imprensa have fled to work at
popular papers, considering them more reflective of the Brazilian masses. For
example, Ruy Xavier, the executive editor of the popular daily O Dia, in Rio,
left the Jornal do Brasil because he felt the former paper was too elitist.
The Jornal do Brasil selects stories to
attract the upper class.... Our objective [at O Dia] is
the popular public's interest, by selling the majority of
papers to the lower middle class, and a minority of our
to the upper middle and lower classes.... [Thus] the
parts of the paper deal with the economics of the popular
ector, their unions, the police and the city in
For Xavier, the popular newspaper is not elitist because it sells
primarily to the middle class. He also cited that popular papers cost less than
papers in the Grande Imprensa. For example, in October 1991, O Dia cost Cr$100
while Globo cost Cr$250 and the Jornal do Brasil cost Cr$300. The low price,
approximately 25-cents in the United States, attracts many readers who otherwise
could not afford to read the newspaper.
Yet, while popular papers may attract a wider and more diverse
reading audience, the popular papers are far from addressing the masses of
Brazilians. Historically, these papers were political instruments in order to
manipulate voting workers. Marcos S Corr a, the editor-in-chief of O Dia,
explained that his publication was originally a tool of Chagas Freitas, a member
of the political elite in Rio. "In 1985, Freitas used the paper to teach people
how to cast their ballot on the eve of the elections," he said. C rrea said
that until recently readers of popular papers "were maltreated. Newspapers
didn't formally admit that their was a link between the readers and power."
However, the decline of Freitas's political power over the O Dia coincided with
the editorial entrance of a new set of editors and journalists, mostly from
Jornal do Brasil. O Dia's new editorial staff now comes from the elite
classes, and exercises power over the readers.
It would be unjust, though, to say that all journalists and editors
in Brazil are totally or equally elitist. Some editors specifically target an
elite audience, such as Matias Molina, who defines the reading audience of
Gazeta Mercantil, specifically as "part of the upper class and the elite. Our
readers form their opinions along with the professionals that make important
economic decisions in this country." In this sense, the readership of the
Gazeta Mercantil overlaps with the readerships of other elite newspapers, but
only among economic elites. 1991 statistics for the Estado de Sao Paulo show
some of the characteristics of their readership:
59% are men
77% are from the upper or upper middle
63% are older than 25 years of age
40% have finished college
14% are executives or professionals
40% have a total family salary between
19% have a total family salary higher
than $1900 monthly
Some journalists believe, though, that all consumers of the print
media are part of the elite. Ventura explained that all readers of a newspaper
in Brazil must satisfy three prequisites: (1) the ability to read, (2) the
desire to read regularly, and (3) access to a salary with some disposable
income. "In Brazil, this already signifies an elite class," Ventura said.
For him, the television and radio are more accessible to the masses of
Brazilians than newspapers ever could be:
Primarily, the newspapers need an
educational system to create readers. Television watchers
the radio listeners are not dependent on public education,
for that reason, perhaps, they are the only mediums that
reach the general public.
The lack of money and public education, then, make access to the
Grande Imprensa difficult, but most journalists would not speculate as to why
the Grande Imprensa does not adjust to what the public wants. If the sole
purpose of the paper is to satisfy consumers and attract more consumers, why
doesn't the Grande Imprensa attempt to satisfy a wider range of people?
To put it bluntly, the Grande Imprensa is not interested in
reaching the general public. The Grande Imprensa represents elite interests in
maintaining a highly stratified society, one in which, the lower and
lower-middle classes are considered less important than elites because they do
not have access to national political and economic decision-making, nor do they
have the money to buy advertising. Alternative journalist and cartoonist Mill r
Fernandes (who is known in the press simply as "Mill r") supports the idea that
the Grande Imprensa represents solely the divergent positions and tensions
within the dominant class, while working for the Jornal do Brasil. For Mill r,
journalists exploit the majority of Brazilians in their coverage as an
unconscious reaffirmation of their power over the gernal public. Callado
asserted that, in Brazil, the power of the dominant classes has gone
unchallenged in the past, leaving the majority of Brazilians in a virtual state
of "slavery" where "the people have no power to care for their interests."
Though both interviewees felt that the dominant classes have extraordinary
amounts of power over the working class, neither Mill r nor Callado could
explain how working class Brazilians can sometimes become elites, even though it
is against the will of the dominant class.
In some regards, the expansion of the Grande Imprensa has led to
certain advantages for typically marginalized peoples in Brazil. For example,
women are numerous in the field of Brazilian journalism, more numerous than in
the United States at both at the reporting and the editorial level. The numbers
of Afro-Brazilians in the media have also increased, though definitely not in
proportion with national racial ratios of blacks to whites. In this way, many
Brazilians have gained access to media systems that alternative writers, such as
Sueli Carneiro of the Gelede's Institute of the Black Woman, insisted are
governed by and exist only for "the rich, the white and the machos."
Thus, to generalize an absolute power of elites over the Brazilian
media (and culture in general) is an oversimplification of how power and control
are maintained within the media itself.
II. The Alternative Press
Although Brazilian communications systems support elite power in
the national political and economic arena, none of these journalistic roles are
monolithic. Indeed there are spaces at all levels for people working in the
Brazilian or the foreign press to break from the hegemonic norm, regardless of
their publication's ideology. During the 1970's, many writers and journalists,
in response to Brazil's military governments, created and began working for
publications that opposed state authoritarian measures, such as the issuance of
censorship in the Fifth Institutional Act. The economy took its worst toll on
small media industries first, especially against many alternative sources of
media. Pasquim and other nationally-distributed alternatives during the 1970's
have either folded or are on the verge of bankruptcy. Inclusionary politics
have tried to co-opt social movements with some measure of success. Political
party publications have taken the place of alternative publications directed
towards specific issues. Political parties, such as the Workers' Party (PT),
also have the financial resources to sustain the production costs of an
alternative publication. Neighborhood groups, such as the Rio de Janeiro State
Residents' Association (FAMERJ), have tried to conserve their resources by
trying to force openings for alternative discourses in the mainstream media.
Unfortunately, the mainstream media have not been very receptive to their
demands. Less than a decade later, these publications, known institutionally
as the "alternative press," disappeared with the relaxation of authoritarian
rules. In 1991, the alternative press of the 1970's has either gone defunct or
operates at a minute portion of its old rates of production.
Many journalists and editors of the former alternative press now
work in the Grande Imprensa, and almost every one of them believes that there is
no alternative press in Brazil anymore. According to the ombudsman of the Folha
de Sao Paulo, Caio Tunio Costa:
The alternative press was co-opted by
the Grande Imprensa. Folha benefitted the most from the
alternatives' ranks by attracting people like Cardoso,
Senador and J nio Freitas. Freitas reformed Folha and
Grande Imprensa as a whole.... Today most of the
press is diluted, because the most important papers
Indeed, the most popular journalistic critics of the military
regimes did go to work for the Grande Imprensa after "abertura." Most of these
writers were from the liberal elite classes that regained powerful positions in
business and the government after the military left power. Most alternative
journalists of the anti-military era seemed to assume that their cause (or
their political and class interests) was the only form of "alternative press,"
so that "when the dictator left, [alternative journalists] had nothing left to
unify against." Luciana Villasboas, at the Jornal do Brasil, said, "After
the dictatorship, there was no political reason to have alternative papers."
Other journalists also assumed that since they do not see alternative
publications (in libraries, newsstands, etc.), the publications must be the
propaganda of a few ideologues and thus must not have any importance in the
The Special Editor for Veja magazine, Roberto Pompeu de Toledo,
thought that Brazil differed from other Latin American countries in the way that
Brazil conformed to the American tendency to push alternative press out of the
Mexico has many alternative papers, but
Brazil doesn't. That's because Brazil's Grande Imprensa
follows the American model for its Grande Imprensa. There
a Grande Imprensa in the United States too, which is
in New York, Washington D.C. and other parts of the
Their tendency [like ours] is to eliminate all newspapers
outside of their Grande Imprensa.
Toledo sees the marginalization of Brazil's alternative press as
another sign of Brazilian media's tendency to replicate the history of the U.S.
All of these statements revolve around the question of what is
"alternative." If we are to define the term as the property of only those
journalists who opposed the military governments in the 1970's, then certainly
there can be no "alternatives" because all Brazilians are content now that
multi-party representation and direct elections have been restored. In fact,
though, this is not the case. "Citizenship" carries a far more diverse range of
personal and group identifications which are either unconsciously or consciously
suppressed by those who have ruling power in the society. During the
dictatorship period, these identifications took a secondary role to securing
democratic rights, such as party representation and voting. Yet, according to
an alternative writer, Lelia M!ccolis:
after abertura, people weren't all
fighting for the same cause anymore. Silence grew in its
place. Blacks, women and gays went their separate ways.
reality, activists' interests became fragmented.
Money also plays a strong role in the disappearance of many
alternative publications. Many elites (nationally and internationally), who
were formerly active in the alternative press, either by writing, reading or
sponsoring, did not want alternative publications after abertura. At the same
time, elites' had more than doubled their wealth over the past two decades, so
that by refusing to sponsor an alternative press, many publications were
monumentally reduced in production size. In addition, new publications started
with meager funding, lacking both the resources to produce on any sort of large
scale because of paper, printing, distribution and labor costs, and the lack of
readers who could afford to be regular subscribers.
Yet, the alternative press still exists in Brazil. Rarely on a
newsstand or in a bookstore, alternative press is found in different channels
than mainstream publications or even former alternative publications. People
read the alternative press in Brazil -- through their political party,
neighborhood association, feminist group, environment group, Afro-Brazilian
group, or labor union. M!ccolis claimed that over 200 alternative publications
circulated in Brazil in 1991. Florestan Fernandes also said that in Sao
Paulo alone, there are at least 35 alternative newspapers linked to the Workers'
Party (PT), as well as other papers linked to the Communist Party (PCdoB) and
the Socialist Party (PSB). Like other forms of alternative press, one PT
newspaper is sold only on two or three streets, but still manages to sell about
1000 copies an issue. Almost all of these papers remain within the lower-middle
and lower classes from production to circulation, but some even include writers
such as M!ccolis and Fernandes, whom are now part of the elite class, even
though both were originally from working class backgrounds. In summation:
To say that alternative publications
have no power would be absurd; to say that they don't
a prejudice. It is simply easier for the establishment
recognize [the alternative press] than to combat against
Depending on the messages' content, the mere existence of an
alternative press can create a sufficient threat to the Grande Imprensa.
However, not every "alternative" message always voices itself in
direct opposition to the Grande Imprensa. Often times, the alternative press
just acts to provide an open space for opinions that have been restricted from
the Grande Imprensa either directly by editors or the institution itself. For
example, the editor and creator of Cadernos do Terceiro Mundo and Ecologia,
Beatriz Bissio, described her publications as "complementary" to the Grande
Imprensa, not "oppositional." Although both magazines present topics that are
rarely introduced in the Grande Imprensa, Bissio said that the magazines merely
give more information on a targeted "liberal" segment of the population. A
journalist who writes for Ecologia explains why the publication is still an
alternative, without being an oppositional medium in the Brazilian press:
The difference between Ecologia and the
Grande Imprensa is that Ecologia can do specials on people
like Osmarino Am ncio, who was the right hand man of Chico
Mendes, and is as important as Chico ever was.... The
Imprensa treats the environment just as our underdeveloped
areas.... Ecologia gives a wider space to something that
absent before,... like eco-feminism, favelas and
but it doesn't make denouncements because it has political
agreements.... In this respect Folha is better at
the status quo.
There are also alternative spaces opened on occasion in the Grande
Imprensa for journalists to address issues in a variety of ways. Oswaldo
Carmargo, the Opinions Editor for the Jornal da Tarde, a Sao Paulo paper owned
by the Mesquita family, did not feel that the his publication was completely
closed to discourses of racial relations and inequalities in Brazil. However,
he also felt that these discourses could only be voiced as "appropriate"
moments, such as on the Day of Abolition. Carmargo explained:
I can open a small space for these
issues but I can't make noise every day because officially
there is no "Black question" in this country. If I
articles in race issues every day the public would think
I'm a racist.
Other journalists, such as Thais Corral and Florestan Fernandes,
also write on a regular basis for publications in the Grande Imprensa, which
they also criticize for not allowing more articles on alternative subjects, such
as women, labor and the environment. Both journalists, however, realized that
more readers would see their articles by publishing in the Grande Imprensa,
instead of solely in alternative publications. "I'm interested in the newspaper
for the access I get to the public.... I want to start discussions among people
in the general public," said Fernandes. Further, by publishing in the
Grande Imprensa, Fernandes and Corral are starting discussions, not just among
any people, but among people in high positions of authority in the government,
business and social institutions.
Some alternative writers, though, deny that any work published in
the Grande Imprensa can be "alternative." M!ccolis even denies that any form of
commercial publication can be "alternative." She explained:
A magazine's subject matter alone cannot
make it an "alternative" alone. Ecologia and Cadernos de
Terceiro Mundo are not alternatives because they are
by advertising.... Ideally, advertisers would want to sell
their product with no strings attached, but this never
This view seems correct in critiquing the oppositional power of a
magazine like Ecologia and Cadernos de Terceiro Mundo, but to move towards this
ideal medium for alternative journalism is probably impossible in reality. In a
capitalistic society, monetary capital is necessary for any type of printed
material, whether through a group of sponsors or through group of advertisers.
Both options have economic/political aims attached, either for a profit, for
recognition of ideas, etc. If a publication is to continue to operate, the
publication must gain at least enough profit to pay for future publishing
expenses or else be the project of someone who is willing to absorb the
continual losses. Since, most individuals or groups cannot afford profitless
publications, advertising is a sort of necessary evil. Logically, all
advertising directors and owners impose certain restrictions on a publication,
either directly or indirectly. The challenge, then, should be to examine the
limits or restrictions imposed on alternative forms of discourse, and not
discard all articles in the commercial press as equally "un-alternative."
Even in the noncommercial alternative press, a certain essentialism
abounds with regard to alternative discourses. T nia Gabrielli, a writer,
creator and producer of the alternative literary magazines, tended to lump all
alternative publications together in the same essentialistic categories:
There is and isn't a kind of union of
alternative interests among writers for alternative
publications. There is a union in the sense that that are
many groups that have defined radical aims.... [On the
hand, though,] some alternative publications specialize in
issues, or race issues, but these publications share
with all the other publications.
Gabrielli's assumes that regardless of the specialization of the
alternative publication's issues, all alternative publications share the same
goals and attitudes in some respects. Later, these views lead her to generalize
that "Black alternative groups are like all other alternative groups" and that
"all women worldwide are repressed in literature and in all areas."
Importantly, though, Gabrielli also separates these alternative agents from the
majority of people, who "do not know their language and grammar" or understand
This type of essentialism runs through the women's movement, the
environmental movement, and the Afro-Brazilian movement. Essentialist notions
affect the alternative press produced by members within these movements by
leading them to believe that all Brazilian problems are based on a singular
problem of race, gender or class. Thais Corral writes for a number of
alternative women's publications on feminism and the environment. She also
writes for Interpress, a specialized newsservice that sells articles on women's
issues to mainstream papers and magazines throughout Latin America. Her
position as an alternative journalist gives her authority to speak for poor
women and environmental concerns in Brazil as if the two were innate and
The environment is a universal concern
for both middle class and poor women are affected by the
environment. In order to improve the quality of life for
women, things have to improve for poor women with the
environment, favelas, trash collection, and sanitation....
Women are more interested in the private world than men,
includes the environment. Women are direct consumers of
environment because they are in charge of their...
health. Women's culture is closer to the environment than
n's. Before, the fight for women's equality was just
in terms of the men's world, like equal jobs and equal
Today equality means rights for the environment too.
Within the alternative press, Corral's voice becomes representative
for other women who are not permitted to dispute her views within the
alternative press, or do not have access to the alternative press in their
Consequently, the production of alternative press is not
necessarily open to a plurality of views. Generally one or perhaps a few people
write, edit, print and distribute the publication. Like publications during the
colonial era, the editor is generally an artisan who does everything necessary
to the production of the publication. This role is inherently elitist. If some
forms of alternative press are free to the public, that means that the people
producing the publication also must have steady jobs or steady incomes that
allow the editors enough free time to work on the publication for no monetary
compensation. As a result, M!ccolis also writes telenovelas for TV Globo and
Gabrielli also is a university researcher. The majority of working Brazilians
could secure jobs such as these, which afford these women the luxury of
producing a noncommercial publication.
Hence, it is important to recognize the advantages and
disadvantages of publishing relative to the particular publication or medium
used for an alternative expression.
III. Concluding Thoughts
Since 1991, both alternative and mainstream news sources continue
to co-exist. Many small, local alternative publications have taken the place of
the traditional alternative press. Between 1981 and 1986, at least a thousand
new periodicals published by labor unions, neighborhood associations and
liberation theology groups.  Most of these publications take the form of
handmade fliers or phamplets, and are so limited in distribution, that people
from the elite classes do not even know that there still is an alternative press
in Brazil. "Popular videos" are another recent alternative source for news and
information. The Sindicato dos Metal#rgicos and the Catholic Church have
sponsored the taping and distribution of these videos nationally to unions,
women's groups, indigenous groups and Church groups.
Large media industries, on the other hand, have continued to
enlarge their base. In 1987, TV Globo was the fourth largest television in the
world, ranking right after NBC, ABC and CBS in the United States. In all,
Marinho's media industry, Rede Globo, owns 40 multinational companies, including
enough television, radio and newspaper companies to transmit information in
virtually all of Brazil's 3991 municipalities. TV TV Globo reaches 95 percent
of Brazilians with television sets, and Rede Globo controls about 20 percent of
all programming in Latin America. Every night an estimated 50 million
Brazilians watch Globo's evening news program, Jornal Nacional, which shows in
the time slot between their two most popular soap operas, also called
"telenovelas." Globo's horizontal integration also ensures that all aspects of
television production, research and marketing are controlled by Globo.
Globo's hegemony in the television market has allowed it much more freedom to
criticize contemporary Brazilian politics than in past years. Recent popular
telenovelas, such as "O Bem Amado" and "Roque Santeiro," were written by Dias
Gomes, a former member of the Communist Party (PCB).
In talking with Brazilian journalists and their editors, it seemed
obvious that members of both mainstream and alternative groups form an elite
class in Brazil, mostly because these groups are literate and buy print media.
Print media does not even come into contact with the vast majority of Brazilians
today. Editora Abril produces more than half of the magazines sold on
newsstands in Brazil, but the majority of its revenue comes from comic
books. Publications directed towards the elite classes are experiencing
economic troubles. Estado de Sao Paulo and Isto /Senhor have serious financial
woes, and Jornal do Brasi is on the verge of bankruptcy from an outstanding
debt with Citibank. In addition, 41 percent of all Brazilian newspapers and
73 percent of all magazines are produced in either Rio or Sao Paulo, creating a
centralized vortex for media production. Some states, such as Piau!, do not
even support a local publication.
This drop in readership can be reasoned in three ways. First, the
continuous fall in literacy rates obviously implies a fall in readership. In
1980 alone, 35 million Brazilians were illiterate, 8 million children did not go
to school and only 28 percent of attending schoolchildren finished the first
grade. These numbers have been rising over the last two decades. Second,
the tight economy means that less people in the middle and lower-middle class
have expendable cash to buy printed media. Printed information has become a
luxury that oftentimes is shared between many families. Yet most
importantly, the printed media's increasingly inability to communicate
effectively with Brazilians is an important consideration in a drop in
readerships. For example, the recent expansion of O Dia, a daily newspaper in
Rio de Janiero, is interesting in this respect. Geared towards a working class
readership, the paper's popularity has far surpassed the Jornal do Brasil,
making it the second largest selling paper in Rio during the week. This
suggests that perhaps the working class market would read a newspaper, so long
as it addressed issues that are important to them, such as the politics, crime,
or cultural events in the neighborhoods were they live. In this sense, neither
alternative nor mainstream journalists' voices are addressed to or received by
the majority of Brazilians.
Lima Sobrinho, Barbosa, 1984, p. 182.
 "Jornalismo Brasileiro: Perfis de Jornalismo," p. 7.
 "Em fun_ao de seus pr prios interesses econ"micos, os empres
rios levam os meios de comunica_ao de sua propriedade a defenderam id_ias e
posturas pol-ticas do grupos que melhor se identificam com esses interesses."
From Ibid., p. 11.
 Toledo, Roberto Pompeu de, Personal Interview, Veja, October
 Callado, Antonio, Personal Interview, professor of literary
criticism and writer, December 17, 1991.
 Toledo, 1991.
 "Jornalismo Brasileiro: Perfis de Jornalismo," 1988, p. 8.
 "O capitalismo tem formas bem discretas de comprar os
jornalistas. Como fazia no passado com os jetons, hoje h as estatais e suas
assessorias de imprensa que pagam bem. S nao faz isto quem gosta realmente de
jornalismo e nao trabalha s pelo dinheiro. From: Ibid., p. 24.
 Ventura, Zuenir, Personal Interview, Veja, November 6,
 Carta, Mino, Personal Interview, Isto E, October 24, 1991.
 Callado, 1991.
 "Reflete as experi_ncias de fala dos grupos superiores da
cultura brasileira. E torna-se, por isso mesmo, de compreensao inacess-vel ao
ciudadao-m_dio, so cidadao que nao ultrapassou sequer o curso prim rio." From:
Marques de Melo, 1985, p. 23.
 Xavier, Ruy, Personal Interview, O Dia, October 8, 1991.
 S_ C"rrea, Marcos, Personal Interview, O Dia, September 26,
 Molina,, Matias, Personal Interview, Gazeta Mercantil,
September 24, 1991.
 These are the demographic statistics that the paper uses to
attract advertising money. Statistics from: Setti, Ricardo, Personal Interview,
Estado de Sao Paulo, September 23, 1991.
 Ventura, 1991.
 Fernandes, Mill"r, Personal Interview, Jornal do Brasil,
November 12, 1991.
 Callado, 1991.
 Carneiro, Sueli, Personal Interview, Gelede's, November 18,
 Gonzaga Motta, 1987, p. 49.
 The Folha de Sao Paulo has been the only newspaper or
magazine during the 1980's to open up a "community space" in their publication
to allow readers to write their political opinions with minimal editorial
interference. From Marques de Melo, 1985, p. 73.
 Costa, Caio Tunio, Personal Interview, Folha de Sao Paulo,
September 23, 1991.
 Toledo, 1991.
 Villasboas, Luciana, Personal Interview, Jornal do Brasil,
September 2, 1991.
 Toledo, 1991.
 M-ccolis, Lelia, Personal Interview, Blocos, October 10,
 Fernandes, Florestan, Personal Interview, researcher,
politician and journalist, October 26, 1991.
 M-ccolis, 1991.
 Bissio, Beatriz, Personal Interview, Ecologia and Cadernos
de Terceiro Mundo, November 13, 1991.
 Personal interview with Oswaldo Carmargo, Jornal da Tarde,
November 19, 1991.
 Fernandes, 1991.
 M-ccolis, 1991.
 Gabrielli, T nia, Personal Interview, alternative
journalist, October 25, 1991.
 Corral, Thais, Personal Interview, alternative journalist,
October 18, 1991.
 "Liberation theology groups" are church-sponsored teaching
groups, which are based on liberation theology and the teachings of Paulo
Freire. The statistic is from Straubhaar, 1989, p. 151.
 Straubhaar, p. 151.
 1987 statistics from an article in Variety magazine and
reprinted by Moreira Alves, 1988, p. 52.
 Straubhaar, p. 142.
 Ibid., p. 149.
 Gonzaga Motta, 1987, p. 39.
 Silverstein, Ken, Personal Interview, AP News, 1991.
 Gonzaga Motta, 1987, p. 39.
 Chilcote, 1985, p. 116.
 Readership statistics in Brazil are based on the idea that
at least four, if not six people will share the same newspaper or magazine
Bissio, Beatriz. Personal Interview. Ecologia and Cadernos de
Terceiro Mundo. November 13, 1991.
Callado, Antonio. Personal Interview. At home. December 17, 1991.
Carmargo, Oswaldo. Personal Interview. Jornal da Tarde. November
Carneiro, Sueli. Personal Interview. Gelede's Institute of the Black
Woman. November 18, 1991
Carta, Mino. Personal Interview. Isto E/ Senhor. October 24, 1991.
Chilcote, Ronald. (1985). "Reflections on Brazilian Political
Thought and the Crisis of the Intellectual." Luso-Brazilian Review. Volume 22
(2): pp. 111-122.
Corral, Thais. Personal Interview. At home. October 18, 1991.
Costa, Caio Tunio. Personal Interview. Folha de Sao Paulo.
September 23, 1991.
Fernandes, Florestan. Personal Interview. At home. October 26,
Fernandes, Mill r. Personal Interview. Jornal do Brasil. November
Gabrielli, T nia. Personal Interview. At home. October 25, 1991.
Gonzaga Motta. (1987). "Brasil; Alternativa popular." A Comunica ao
Alternativa na America Latina. Petrop"lis: Editora Vozes.
Lima Sobrinho, Barbosa. (1984). Imprensa e desenvolvimento. Sao
Paulo: Escola de Comunica oes e Artes.
"Jornalismo Brasileiro: Perfis de Jornalismo." (1988). S rie
Profissao: Comunicaao Jornalistica e Editorial. Sao Paulo: Escola de
Comunica oes e Artes.
Marques de Melo. (1985). A Opiniao no jornalismo brasileiro.
Petrop"lis: Editora Vozes.
M!ccolis, Lelia. Personal Interview. Blocos. October 10, 1991.
Molina, Matias. Personal Interview. Gazeta Mercantil. September 24,
Moreira Alves. 1988). "Dilemmas of Consolidation of Democracy from
the Top in Brazil." Latin American Perspectives. Volume 15 (3): pp. 47-63.
S C rrea, Marcos. Personal Interview. O Dia. September 26, 1991.
Setti, Ricardo. Personal Interview. Estado de Sao Paulo. September
Silverstein, Ken. Personal Interview. AP News. 1991.
Straubhaar, Joseph. (1989). "Television and Video in the Transition
from Military to Civilian Rule." Latin American Perspectives. Volume 24 (1):
Toledo, Roberto Pompeu de. Personal Interview. Veja. October 28,
Ventura, Zuenir. Personal Interview. Veja. November 6, 1991.
Villasboas, Luciana. Personal Interview. Jornal do Brasil.
September 2, 1991.
Xavier, Ruy. Personal Interview. O Dia. October 8, 1991.