Report: Brazil Is Deadlier for Journalists Than Afghanistan

How It Works
June 9 2014 5:04 PM

The Dangerous World of Brazilian Journalism

107190634-photojournalists-and-a-cameraman-work-as-brazilian-army
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.

Advertisement

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.

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

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 23 2014 6:00 AM Naked and Afraid Prudie offers advice on whether a young boy should sleep in the same room with his nude grandfather.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Books
Sept. 23 2014 7:14 AM Fighting the Sophomore Slump, Five Novels at a Time Announcing the Slate/Whiting Second Novel List.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 7:00 AM I Stand with Emma Watson
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.