Jornal Nacional, a power project

Bhupen Khakhar, Gallery of the Rogues, 1993.


Comment on the recently published book by Angela Carrato, Eliara Santana and Juarez Guimarães

For 52 years, Brazilian democracy has faced one of its strongest challenges: how to relate to Jornal Nacional, from Rede Globo de Televisão. Constantly, from Monday to Saturday, Brazil and the world are cut out and offered to the public according to the interests of that company's controllers, invariably disagreeing with the real needs of the majority of the population and the defense of national sovereignty.

Not that this is new. Before TV, the conglomerate's newspapers and stations already played this role. The difference is that, from November 1, 1969, when Jornal Nacional was aired for the first time, the clippings gained movement, light, colors and voices, in a sophisticated dramaturgy aimed at winning hearts and minds. Obtained successfully.

But Jornal Nacional did not do it alone. Strategically displayed between telenovelas, the channel's most successful product, it used them to win over the audience, receiving an almost captive audience, more interested in the daily unfolding of the romantic plots offered to the public, before and after the newspaper.

By establishing itself as the main national television network, practically hegemonic, Globo shaped a national ideology, capable of making conversations about the content of soap operas or the adventures of football games common throughout the country. Themes inscribed in the areas of fun and entertainment, in which a commitment to the factual is not required.

The same scope of coverage and consequent national repercussion occurs with journalism, with the significant difference that a commitment to the fact is attributed to it and an interpretation that is as close as possible to truthfulness is expected. However, many times, the production techniques of telejournalism resemble those of teledramaturgy. All that remains to differentiate them is the aura of journalistic precision covering up the existing similarity between the production of these genres.

“I saw it on Jornal Nacional” is a common phrase, heard as a testimony of credibility that exemplifies this trust, without taking into account the forms and interests involved in the production of information. It is supported only by the aura that covers up reality, wrapping the product offered to the viewer.

It is this aura that allows Jornal Nacional, as well as other corporate media outlets, to use the idea of ​​alleged journalistic impartiality as a way of covering up their real interests. And when she receives criticism from different sectors of society, even antagonistic ones, she uses them as a way of advertising a balance that does not actually exist.

The book Jornal Nacional, a power project, by Ângela Carrato, Eliara Santana and Juarez Guimarães, when focusing on the political role of Globo’s main newscast, from 2014 until now, manages to show very competently that the impartial discourse cannot be sustained. It lifts the veil that covers appearances and reveals the routes followed by television news. Apparently changing, they actually maintain a precise course, buoyed by a project of power rooted in the company's origins.

A project that manifests itself acutely in more critical political moments and, on a daily basis, in a homeopathic way. It doesn't hurt to remember the newspaper headlines The Globe saluting the 1964 coup or condemning the institution of the 13th salary for workers across the country. Or, still, in a more recent situation, the summoning by the TV Globo of the acts against the government of President Dilma, which led to the 2016 coup, building a scenario where “a corruption never seen before” was raging, projecting “an unprecedented economic crisis”, as the book recalls. Without forgetting the pyrotechnics around the operations called Mensalão and Lava Jato.

To fix them in the population's imagination, the dramaturgical resource of rusty oil pipelines, pouring an abundance of money onto the screen, had a powerful symbolic force. There is no need to listen or read, just step in front of a device tuned to Jornal Nacional, in a bar or in a waiting room, to know that corruption is rife in the country, in a daily process of criminalization of politics. Camouflaged journalism propaganda action, documented and commented rigorously in the book.

If it shows, Jornal Nacional also hides or minimizes what is not of interest to the company. “In September 2014, Brazil left the Hunger Map, according to a survey by the United Nations (UN). Jornal Nacional did not give an opening call and dedicated 38 seconds to the article. In December 2014, the unemployment rate was 4,8%, the lowest level in the historical series. The news received 37 seconds, it was not the main headline and was limited to showing numbers, without interviews and without contextualization. The Weather Bulletin ran for more than a minute”, highlights journalist Luiz Nassif, in the book's Preface.

Data like this, presented with academic rigor, are present throughout the entire book. From them, the rectilinear conduct of the newspaper is revealed in pursuit of the interests it defends, anchored basically in the “defense of a radicalized neoliberal policy in its privatist and mercantile aspects”. Following what the authors of the book define as “progressive neoliberalism”, the dominant current in the US Democratic Party, as opposed to the “regressive neoliberalism” of Trump's Republicans. References going back to the origins of Globo, driven not only by the resources of the time-life, but also for being, since its foundation, “the main expression, in Brazilian culture, of an 'Americanism', that is, of a worldview that takes certain idealized paradigms of the USA as, at the same time, a system of values, identities and destinies”.

Jornal Nacional, a power project it is proof of the importance of academic research in revealing the real role of the media in Brazilian society, only possible in a space free of any external interference in the production of knowledge. The research presented in this book was produced through an interdisciplinary approach that brought together data collection and analysis instruments from political science, communication science and discourse analysis.

This combination of freedom to exercise criticism with the quality of the research instruments used make this book essential for understanding the role of a television newscast in the sociopolitical life of a country. A fact, apparently, unique in the whole world.

*Laurindo Lalo Leal Filho is a sociologist, journalist and professor at ECA-USP. He is a member of the Deliberative Council of the Brazilian Press Association (ABI) and the board of directors of the Barão de Itararé Independent Media Studies Center. Author, among other books, of TV under control – Society's response to the power of television (summus).

Originally published on the website Viomundo.



Angela Carrato, Eliara Santana and Juarez Guimarães. Jornal Nacional, a project of power: the narrative that legitimized the deconstruction of Brazilian democracy. Belo Horizonte, Editora Comunicação de Fato, ebook, 136 pages.

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