The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent
Note from BW of Brazil: Well as we can see, some things change extremely slowly if not at all. Journalism is one of those fields, of the many in Brazil, in which Afro-Brazilians are a rarity, particularly in the role of host or anchor of news programs. While it is not as rare to see black Brazilians as street reporters, sports reporters or reporting the weather, the role of host of news journals is considered a coveted position and it is still very rare to see them given the opportunity to shine in this position (see here and here for a few examples). An Afro-Brazilian hosting a top news program is a considered a big deal and as such, when Maju Coutinho debuted on Brazil’s top network (Globo) as host of the media’s top news program (Jornal Nacional), it made headlines.
So what’s the big deal?
Well, it goes deeper than what I wrote in the previous sentence. For those of you who haven’t followed this blog for very long, I must revert to a highly publicized incident a few years ago in which Coutinho became Jornal Nacional’s first black weathergirl and became the target of a slew of racist comments online. So imagine that if Brazilians reacted in such a manner when she became the regular weathergirl, what were people really thinking she assumed the anchor chair a few weeks ago?
Her debut apparently went over well with no reports of racist sentiments, which is good, but at the same time, just because people didn’t actually verbalize anything doesn’t mean such sentiments don’t exist. Coutinho’s debut as anchor was good news as just six months previously, the number of black anchors on a nationally-televised news program dropped by one back in January when 12-year veteran and highly celebrated journalist Joyce Ribeiro was fired by SBT-TV (see note one). This is just a brief look at the experiences of being a black journalist in Brazil. It’s not impossible to reach at the higher posts, but according to a recent report, the chances are pretty slim.
Popular, but without the face of the people: On Brazilian television, only 3.7% of the hosts are black, says research
By Silvia Nascimento
Yes. Gringos (foreigners) who visit our country are still astonished with how our television, actors, journalists, and hosts are mostly white, while the demographic data and the images of Brazil abroad show that we are a nation of black people in the majority, including those of mixed race, the children of interracial couples.
In 2014 I wrote an article about the absence of blacks as columnists in the main newspapers of São Paulo. And it was not on top of achism (see note two), no, my text was based on a survey conducted by Gemaa (Group of Multidisciplinary Studies of Affirmative Actions) of UERJ that showed that only 10% of the columnists of the three largest newspapers in the country, O Globo, Folha de S. Paulo and Estadão were black. Little has changed since then. Folha had no black columnists, now has Preta, Preto, Pretinhos (meaning black woman, black man, little blacks) dedicated to the comunidade negra (black community), written by journalist Denise Mota. However, it’s nothing to be celebrated, because the news column, very interesting by the way, does not get any prominence on the homepage of the portal.
Source and Art: Vaidapé
Television is the vehicle chosen by 61% of Brazilians as the main source of information, but the news is delivered by almost all white hosts, at least in São Paulo. The ones bringing this fresh data, collected between 2016 and 2017, is the Coletivo Vaidapé (Vaidapé Collective), which addresses issues of human rights and institutional violence.
As some media vehicles such as Rede Globo, which said they did not separate their employees by race (!), didn’t provide data for the study, those responsible then decided to organize the survey to obtain those numbers otherwise. They then analyzed seven broadcasters of the free TV networks: Cultura, SBT, Rede Globo, Rede Record, RedeTV, Gazeta and Bandeirantes. The numbers are worse than I imagined. Whites are 97% of the show hosts on free TV.
“We checked 204 programs from the seven mentioned stations that were broadcast between the second half of 2016 and the first of 2017. The result was a survey of 272 hosts that make up the programming grids. Although the majority of the programs are shown on a national network, for the cases that vary from region to region was adopted as standard the programming of São Paulo. Even so, the research gives a good overview of Brazilian television,” explained the people responsible for the research on the Vaidapé website.
Source and Art: Vaidapé
Record and SBT don’t have a single black host. The network that has the most diversity is RedeTV!, with almost 9% of hosts being black.
Another interesting piece of research is that blacks, when they manage to be hosts, lead entertainment-related projects, once again connecting black faces to fun, as if we do not have the credibility to talk about politics and economics, for example.
“Ah Silvia, but there’s a lot of black reporters!” Perhaps, but within the hierarchy of a TV show, they are behind some functions and most of the hosts nowadays, are also editors, that is, they rate, they decide what the reporter has to talk about.
Would the agendas, approach to themes, editing of texts and reporting would be different if the host were black? If he’s an editor too, for sure. How many reports that show black faces but that are not linked to poverty, racism and crime do you see in the news? How many black economists have you seen on TV talking about reforms, or nutritionists, teachers, parents and students talking about everyday affairs?
Although still far from being the main source of news for the average Brazilian, the Internet, especially YouTube, is the space where blacks host their own programs. They film, edit, find black characters with other narratives as a source for their productions and are closer to what free TV should be.
SBT-TV fired journalists Joyce Ribeiro and Patricia Rocha, who hosted the journal Primeiro Impacto. The broadcaster issued a statement early Friday afternoon (January 20) stating that the professionals had been dismissed.
“The network’s spokesperson revealed that Joyce Ribeiro and Patricia Rocha are leaving the station. SBT highlights and appreciates the dedication and professionalism during the period they were part of the journalism team,” said the note sent by press officials of the channel. SBT, its colleagues and the board of directors, wish them the best in their new paths and professional challenges,” read the statement sent by the station’s press office.
Joyce and Patricia hosted the Primeiro Impacto along with Karyn Bravo, who should remain on the station. In October last year, Silvio Santos replaced the hosts with Dudu Camargo, 18. The decision of the owner of the SBT to put the young man in front of a television news program was very controversial. The Union of Professional Journalists of the State of São Paulo even released a note of repudiation.
The journalists were redirected to other projects. Shortly thereafter, the extinction of Primeiro Impacto was announced and Dudu followed as bag man on the show Fofocando.
Joyce and Patricia published farewell messages on Instagram. “After 12 years of a harmonious working relationship that has paid off, I leave SBT to follow new paths. Here is my gratitude to the great icon of TV, Silvio Santos (owner of SBT), for the welcome and opportunities I received over the years. I am also grateful for the partnership of the journalism department, directors and colleagues of the station. I am now focused on new projects for journalism and entertainment that have been maturing for some time,” wrote Joyce.
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