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Partisanship versus professionalism: the role of the journalist in the democratization process

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Journalism in Brazil in the last two decades has been immersed in the contradictions of the consolidation of political representative democracy since 1985 and the effect of the entry of the country into the global free market. Many South American countries which left authoritarian regimes in the 1980’s struggled in the 1990’s to endorse fully the tradition of US classic liberal journalism with its values of objectivity and professionalism. Waisbord (2000) has argued that the print press during this period maintained its close-knit ties to the state in a reality which saw the continuity of the highly politicised nature of many of Brazil’s institutions. This chapter will argue that journalists did make contributions to the democratisation process through the use of multiple journalism identities. In the contemporary years, however, these contributions were mainly made possible through journalists’ commitment to progressive readings of professionalism and social responsibility. The limits imposed on these contributions were less related to issues of the use or not of liberal journalism values of objectivity, and were more a consequence of political and economic (market) pressures. This chapter will argue that the professional model and objective regime are not flawed, and that they actually did contribute to a more mature and advanced discussion of Brazilian politics and representation of its multiple interests in the last two decades. If the dictatorship period saw the functioning of wider political constraints, the contemporary phase was perhaps more dominated by economic limits although, as we have seen, political interests did and still do pose a series of threats on journalism practice.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/19801/

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