political assassination

Image: Nothing Ahead


No! It's not a war, because only Bolsonarism kills

Journalism is essentially discourse. Information is basically a matter of language and language is not transparent. As the media not only transmit or reflect what happens in social reality, but construct it, the way it makes facts visible and how it selects aspects of reality is usually subordinated to the interests of those who control it. This is how the mass media construct a vision of public space. The responsibility is enormous and we are in a moment to avoid euphemisms and take the place that journalism should have in a democracy: to watch over it, defend it, expand it.

This notion of discursive genre, although it can be problematized in several aspects, is an important key to accessing the understanding of the complexities of the journalistic function and operation. Charaudeau (2003) teaches us that it is necessary to help reveal the enunciative circumstances in which a discourse circulates and how this discursive circulation materializes in concrete textual products. In the 1930s, the Russian School (Bakhtin, Voloshinov, Medvedev) focused on the study of language usage in real-life situations, not just rhetoric.

What Charaudeau called the “field of social practice”, where actors constitute instances of communication around a device that determines their identity, the purpose(s) established between them and the thematic field that constitutes their base semantics. That is, in the journalism device is the purpose of information (to make known) and of demonstration (relationship of knowledge centered on truth). Objectives can be articulated and combined, but one is always predominant. When we look at journalism, there are several particularities, but it is always necessary to operate the debate on the power and role of subjects conditioned by various interests and historical scenarios. These are valuable notions for understanding journalistic activity. Concepts that professionals in the field know (or should know), understand and operate on a daily basis.

But beyond what the theoretical literature of the field tells us, we can help ourselves from practice itself. There is no journalist or writing routine that does not exhaustively discuss the words chosen to build headlines and narrate events, gentlemen. There is not. Anyone who has worked in a newsroom for a long time knows how to proceed when choosing words, selecting and ranking what they are going to tell, and consulting the sources they choose. When we redesign reality to publish what we want to tell about the world, nothing happens by chance. Never. No journalist can claim a neutral meaning for the use of a given expression or not to name crime, violence, murder, precisely crime, violence and murder.

Language is disputed all the time. It was like that when I worked in an important communication group and there was a ban on using the word occupation to characterize some MST action. The given term was invasion. Likewise, it was strictly forbidden to use the sound (interview) of trade unionists as the last line of the report in the editing of any article. That is, it is clear that the choice of certain terms matters and are decisive for building the event in the public space.

Since this last Sunday, I have been scandalized by some vehicles and public figures, leaders of parties and candidates, who dare to define the murder of the PT militant by Bolsonarism as a war, a fight or an argument. The murder of a PT militant, because he belongs to the PT, owes an end to the media cynicism that uses euphemisms, subterfuges and false symmetry in political coverage where on one side is society and democratic debris and on the other is barbarism, violence and the destruction.

O Power360, an important news blog, had the nerve to report the political assassination as “bolsonaristas and lulistas die in exchange for gunshots in Paraná”. The editor's justification is that the article explained in more detail what happened. Now, the titles must announce and summarize the information and convince the reader that the bias presented is important, in addition to attracting him to read and “selling” the importance of the text. It's no use telling the truth after the headline.

Is this not the first death authorized by a political faction that cultivates violence, that defends crime, that attacks institutions, that violates the constitution, that dismantles the Republic, that persecutes scientists, that accuses artists, that denies science and distorts information? vital, which dismantles the public functions of the State. And it is not new that the press reports without giving the name that things have: crime, fascism, sexism, misogyny, racism. It continues in its declarative journalism. A Folha de São Paulo had the nerve to print in a headline that the journalist murdered by the criminals – whose mining practices, criminal fishing and other illegal activities are defended by the government and its authorities –, Dom Phillip, was frowned upon in the region. What kind of headline is this?

Na Gaucho Radio, let us do it justice, has sought to do journalism in the face of the horror show of its competitors, I heard from a writer commentator the lament that the violence of football, the regime of bleachers had transferred to politics, which was serious because everyone now they were armed. No! It's not a war, because only Bolsonarism kills. It's no use to the microphone to complain generically and ask for peace, ask hate professionals and armed militias to be respectful of the opinion of the other and disarm.

We haven't been back to normal for years. For years, weapons have grown at the same rate as the lack of control over weapons, many of which, as is known, supply drug trafficking and militias. We already have more non-civilian weapons in the country than among police and military forces. We have known for some time that this threatens society, threatens democracy and increases violence. Not all are armed. It is not honest to pretend and lament the suffering of two families, as if the two involved were victims of polarization.

Marcelo was yet another victim of Bolsonarism. And journalism too. The nonsense about the polarization that the vehicles repeat is no worse than the nonsense about the “ideological wing of the government”, which the media created to safeguard the part that interests them in this spurious government, that of the reforms that promised to create jobs and growth and played thousands in misery, without income, without employment and without food.

Choosing between two policy options is not polarization. Polarization is between extremes. And today we have barbarism on one side and democracy on the other. It's crystal clear. Bolsonarism is outside the democratic framework. He insults the media, threatens institutions, blackmails elections. Mind, mind, mind.

I can only understand that part of the media is cornered. Also hostage to fury, afraid of reactions on social media. It's trying to deal with fading credibility, with attacks that spare no institution, with deals that are failing. They need to quibble, they need to adhere, they need to pretend. But this simulacrum does not work on scorched earth. Business doesn't either. At some point it will be imperative to act.

* Sandra Bitencourt is a journalist, PhD in communication and information from UFRGS, director of communication at Instituto Novos Paradigmas (INP).



Charaudeau, P. The information speech. The construction of the social mirror. Gedisa: Spain, 2003.


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