Report: Brazil Is Deadlier for Journalists Than Afghanistan

The World
How It Works
June 9 2014 5:04 PM

The Dangerous World of Brazilian Journalism

Photojournalists during a Brazilian army raid on the Morro de Alemao favela in Rio de Janeiro on Nov. 27, 2010.

Photo by Jefferson Bernardes/AFP/Getty Images

Sports commentary is not generally considered one of the more dangerous beats for journalists, but dig a little too deeply into Brazilian soccer and it can be deadly.

Joshua Keating Joshua Keating

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

On July 5, 2012, Valério Luiz de Oliveira, host of a sports radio program in Goiânia, Brazil, was gunned down outside his station’s offices. Luiz was known for his unsparing criticism of the management of the local soccer team, Atlético Goianiense, and had been banned from the team’s facilities.


The team’s vice president was charged with helping to orchestrate the murder, along with other men. Luiz’s father, also a well-known sports commentator, said he had “lost his son because of football.”

Luiz’s case is highlighted in a recent report from the Committee to Protect Journalists on the culture of violence and impunity that journalists often face in Brazil. The report notes that “Brazil is the 11th-deadliest country in the world for journalists since 1992, ranking one spot worse than war-torn Afghanistan, according to CPJ research.”

According to CPJ, least 10 journalists have been killed as a direct result of their work since President Dilma Rousseff was elected in 2011 and five others were killed under unclear circumstances.

It’s common for these crimes to go unpunished, or for only the triggermen rather than those suspected of orchestrating the attacks to be put on trial. The suspects in Luiz’s murder are currently free awaiting trial. The report does note that a number of convictions in journalists’ murders have been obtained this year, perhaps part of an effort to improve relations with the press in the runup to the World Cup.

In addition to violence, the reports also notes that it’s common for politicians and business to use the country’s privacy laws to stifle unflattering coverage, keeping newspapers and bloggers bogged down in court and on the hook for legal fees and fines.

The report also notes Brazil’s recent efforts to centralize control over the country’s Internet. Though they are an understandable reaction to the NSA spying revelations, there are also concerns that “internet sovereignty” restrictions could lead to more domestic censorships. Brazil already leads the world in Google takedown requests.

Brazil is a large, dynamic country where wealth is often expanding faster than the rule of law. That can make things dangerous for journalists and civil society activists who challenge powerful and wealthy interests. On the other hand, the strength Brazil has over the countries these reports unflatteringly compare it to is that it has a vibrant media and civil society. If nothing else, the World Cup should provide an opportunity to take note of the work they’re doing and risks they are taking.



The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?


Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 11:40 AM The U.S. Has Spent $7 Billion Fighting the War on Drugs in Afghanistan. It Hasn’t Worked. 
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Right of Free Speech
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Oct. 21 2014 12:05 PM Same-Sex Couples at Home With Themselves in 1980s America
Future Tense
Oct. 21 2014 4:14 PM Planet Money Uncovers One Surprising Reason the Internet Is Sexist
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.