reparation Codified promises

Redaction manuals omit reparation of innocents

None foresee actions to put in relief the news about the absolution

The section Codified Promises, which lists and comments the terms of the redaction manuals of major Brazilian newspapers now faces a theme where there are no promises of good intentions, but omissions. The theme is the reparation of an innocent accused of crimes or irregularities, an important and habitual question in journalism, however, it is ignored by the manuals. The manuals of Estado, Folha, Zero Hora, and Globo neglect this subject - rather than emphasizing and even regulating a procedure which is necessary to the media.

The omission is obvious because the long manuals of Folha and Estado, for example, deal with details, such as the correct insertion of semicolons, but forget about such an important daily challenge of journalism. The Redaction Manual of "O Globo" is the one which deals better with the theme, in the entry Right to Reply : "Whenever the news contradicts previous news, the reader has the right to receive a clear and complete explanation, disregarding any dementi".

News recovering accusations should be considered mandatory by the media. No matter whether the accusation is supported by the police or by the public prosecution service, in other words, even by playing its role by informing the public, the media has the obligation of publishing any new information if, after a simple inquiry or action at law, the defendant be declared innocent.

Throughout thousands of pages of redaction manuals which rule everyday activities in the redaction, no one contains a single and direct rule like the following: After publishing any news discrediting someone, even within ethical and technical rules of journalism, if the person is declared innocent, we shall give the same emphasis to such fact.

The formal logic is simple: if the accusation is of public interest (or interesting to the newspaper...), in case of non-existence of crime, even if there is less journalistic interest, the its divulgation shall be equivalent to the original news. This question refers to the technic and honesty of journalism. It has no relation with corrections of false news or the right to reply, as in this case, the accusation is a fact and the news is correct.

This hypothesis can be tested very regularly in printed matters or radio and TV broadcasts: someone, or some institution (Police, Public Agency, Treasury Department, or any other agency responsible for inspections) charges a person, company or institution, of committing something irregular, either a hideous crime - as those which agitate defenders of capital punishment, or tax dodging - which, considering the soft patterns of fiscal agencies and mediaís lack of interest about the subject, is not considered a serious crime in Brazil.

The person being charged, either famous or obscure, will have a crime "stamped" in his curriculum. In this hypothesis, the media played its role by informing the public, including the point of view of the person being charged. Thatís real journalism.

That is not the case when the media omits or reduces the impact of the news. It is very common news about accusations being published in the first page or emphasized in the radio/TV broadcasts, and the reparation being published in internal pages.