tv news and political change in brazil - Journalism...

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TV news and political change in Brazil The impact of democratization on TV Globo's journalism & Mauro Porto Tulane University, USA ABSTRACT The article analyzes the changes that since the mid-1990s have transformed journalistic practices in Brazil's most powerful media institution. More especially, the aim is to investigate the transformation of TV Globo's News Division and situate this process in relation to the democratization of Brazilian politics and society. Based on content analysis of Jornal Nacional , TV Globo's main newscast, and on in-depth interviews with four senior journalists of the network, the article stresses how the new conditions brought by political and social democratization help explain these changes. In particu- lar, the deepening of democracy in Brazil created new constraints that forced TV Globo to overcome a tradition of more explicit political biases and to minimize the initial trend toward tabloidization with an increase of hard news coverage. K E Y W O R D S & Brazilian journalism & commercialization & democratization & journalism models & media opening & political communication & political coverage & tabloidization The relationship between the news media and the political changes associated with democratic consolidation in transitional societies has not received much attention in journalism studies. This neglect is related to two main blind spots in the ®eld. First, there is normative bias toward stable political environments. Journalism studies have been largely based on stable liberal democracies of post-industrial countries. As a result, the examination of the intersections of politics and journalism is usually ®ltered through the experiences of more enduring political systems, especially the ones from the USA (Zelizer, 2004: 173). Although post-industrial countries are not static and have been facing similar political transformations in more recent times, including the decline of Journalism Copyright & 2007 SAGE Publications (Los Angeles, London, New Delhi and Singapore) Vol. 8(4): 381±402 DOI: 10.1177/1464884907078656 ARTICLE
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political parties and the rise of a more fragmented and individualized political system (Hallin and Mancini, 2004: 263±67; Swanson, 2004), it is still important to stress that their media systems have developed in quite stable political environments. The second dif®culty in understanding the relation between democratiza- tion and the media is the lack of conceptual tools in the literature on Latin American journalism that allow the investigation of media opening, de®ned as the `process by which mass media become more representative of societal viewpoints and more independent of of®cial control' (Lawson, 2002: 3). Several media institutions in the region have undergone important changes more recently, leading to more plural and independent models of journalism. Never- theless, because of very good reasons, the general tone of the analyses of journalism in Latin America is very negative. For example, although the main communication systems in the region have been privately owned and commer-
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