The Brazilian protests that began in June and took the country by storm have laid bare the lack of democratic media in Brazil. Disappointing coverage of the protesters as "vandals" and the belittling of the peaceful, nationwide demonstrations illustrated Brazilian media outlets' tendency to serve the interests of the powerful families that own them, not those of the general public.
Brazilian media conglomerates are owned by a small group of elite families. The sordid history of conservative news outlets includes their support of the Brazilian military dictatorship during its two-decade reign.
Laurindo Leal Filho, a media specialist at the University of Sao Paulo, told the Los Angeles Times: "Brazilian society was based on slavery for over 300 years, and has almost always been run by the same social strata. Some parts of the upper class have learned to live with other parts of society that were previously excluded … but the media still reflect the values of the old-school elite, with very, very few exceptions."
In the same article, Vincent Bevins explains the dire media landscape: "Reporters Without Borders recently issued a report criticizing media concentration in Brazil and recommending an overhaul of laws pertaining to the media...The Reporters Without Borders report details close ties between parts of the media and members of Congress, some of whom even vote to grant licenses to outlets they own, especially outside the bigger cities."
On the evening of July 11, Brazilians from all walks of life took to the streets, and peaceably and creatively demanded the end of the one-sided mainstream media.
Projecting messages on the São Paulo Globo building: "Globo withholds"
Lasers aimed at Globo anchor forced him to report on the protests happening outside the station:
A bridge that was named after a media giant was renamed to honor Vladimir Herzog, a journalist tortured and killed under Brazil's dictatorship. At the time, the media covered up his death. Photo: Acampa Sampa Ocupa Sampa
Protesters create a human chain across a major expressway in front of the Globo building.
In São Paulo, I spoke with a few Paulistanos, and asked them why they were protesting. Here is what they had to say:
Brazilian media is very monopolized. Historically, it is controlled by a few families, who impose an agenda defined by their commercial and political interests. New legislation is needed to put an end on these monopolies and give people access to a truly democratic media.
The demonstration that asked for an open media July 11th in São Paulo is related to global discussions about democratic media, versus the concentration of media organizations in the capitalist system. In this context, the issue is intrinsically related to some historical problems we have here, like coronelismo, which concentrates power in the hands of the few, from the right to land, to political and media powers who articulate their own privileged interests, perpetuating the misery and ignorance that Brazil has faced since its beginning.
Brazilians really know how to protest.
More photos and videos here.
A similar version of this article was originally published on Bustle.
For more on Brazil and Latin America, follow me on Twitter: @adefillo