By Daniela Vianna
Faced by the environmental crisis, which is imposing itself on contemporary society and is bringing in its wake a sense of urgency for changes in the course and in the views of the world, the media is having an important role in mediating senses in the process for building up social awareness of environmental problems. The research presents results of a diagnosis on how two major newspapers in Brazil Folha de S. Paulo and O Estado de S. Paulo covered the issue of soil pollution by residues during 15 years, between the Rio-92 and 2007. Many questions were raised to guide this work. Is the press prepared to accomplish its function and contribute towards having the several different social players prepared to position themselves to face such great challenges? Are the diversity of sources and the systemic and transversal vision – foreseen by environmental journalism taken into account by the newsrooms? Whose are the predominant voices in the environmental coverage? How do they appear? These are some of the discussions which are being proposed by this study. Among the findings, it was verified for example that environmental coverage is still mostly based on official sources – present in 93.4% of the texts analyzed. The greater part of them even bring approaches that are disconnected, limited and alarmist about the matter, tied up by a reductionist vision of the actuality, seeking to embellish the stories and make them fit into the roles of villains and heroes; sheriff and victims. Although the volume of texts on environment is currently greater than in the past and that there is a greater amount of contextualized reporting, this is still an exception and not the rule at the newsrooms. Quality is closely associated to the individual initiatives of the professionals, rather than to institutional decisions. Having in view the complexities and uncertainties of the risk society, the scientists and journalists who were interviewed for this study made reflections on the possible ways for journalistic coverage of environmental issues. They pointed out, for instance, the narrowing of the gap and the better understanding between journalists and scientists as being important factors for the quality of the environmental debate that is mediated by the press in Brazil.
See at Universidade de São Paulo website (in Portuguese).