The journalist Alec Duarte, 41, 20 years of profession, also post-graduation professor at Faap.
(click here to see the original article)
Secret Diaries: A salute to good convergent journalism
Posted on November 25, 2010
It is unforgivable not to mention the Grand Prix of the 55th edition of the Esso Award, a prize that journalists value most, deservedly won by fellow Katia Brembatti, Karlos Kohlbach, James Alberti and Gabriel Tabatcheik, from Gazeta do Povo, Curitiba.
For two years, and off-assignment (ie, working only on that), they searched the official record of the Assembly of Paraná (a bundle of 724 volumes published between 1998 and 2009), hitherto kept secret _ there are, we must mention , secret acts that not even the report failed to solve.
The work, called Secret Diaries, not only revealed a scheme of hiring ghost employees and misuse of money estimated at R$100 million (roughly US$62.5 million) as was the fuse of a civil society movement, Paraná We Want, which mobilized thousands of people in June this year in 13 public events in major cities of the state.
Not only that: besides the contents of the diaries available for public consultation, the reader might (actually, still can ) help reporters giving clues about what they knew.
Great convergence between paper journalism and the online platform, with a pinch of crowdsourcing. All very modern and at the same time, absolutely oldschool: journalism, today, is like that.
CARLOS ALBERTO DI FRANCO
Director of the Master in Journalism (www.masteremjornalismo.org.br), professor of ethics and Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Navarra, is director of the Di Franco – Strategy Consulting Media (www.consultoradifranco.com).
Politicians, “legality” versus ethics
Published on 31/05/2010 | Carlos Alberto Di Franco
(click here to see the original article)
The press of Parana is writing a beautiful chapter in the history of quality journalism, an example to be followed by us all. Research ethics is always the best ally of citizenship. That was what we saw in the series of features the newspaper Gazeta do Povo and the RPC TV presented in mid-March. Reporters Katia Brembatti, Karlos Kohlbach, and James Alberti and Gabriel Tabatcheik penetrated a powerful engine of corruption that has been dominating the Legislature of Parana for years.
The Legislative Assembly of Paraná has hidden 56.7% of its actions in loose diaries inaccessible to the public, many with no numbers and published in random dates, unconnected with the timing of the events published. The practice covered up an impressive mob management. Reporters had access to more than 700 journals published from 1998 to 2009 and for two years cross-referenced the contents of publications. No dossier was forwarded to the editor. It was a tremendous investment in investigative journalism.
That bet on well-founded complaint revealed situations like the farmer Jermina Leal and his daughter Vanilda Leal, living in poor houses in the rural area of Cerro Azul, 100 km from Curitiba. They survive thanks to food stamps. But in the documentation of the Legislative Assembly of Paraná they appeared as beneficiaries of R$ 1.6 million over five years, monies they never saw. The example is just a nutshell in a sea of decay, corruption and cynicism.
The promoters of the Special Action Group to Combat Organized Crime (Gaeco) have demonstrated that the corruption scheme built into the Legislature diverted at least R$ 26 million from state coffers.This amount is equivalent to the deposits made by the House on the bank account of 17 ghost workers. The estimate of the promoters, however, is that the total deviation reaches R$ 100 million. So far, 18 people were arrested for connection to the criminal scheme.
Facing the situation raised by the series of articles, the Parana section of OAB (Brazillian Bar Association), launched the movement “Paraná we want” three weeks ago , that in an open letter calling on the Paraná society to ask transparency in the Legislative and punishment of those involved in the complaints. The outcry worked. The movement has come so far to the mark of 256 adherences from entities – Federal University of Parana (UFPR), Federation of Industries of Parana (FIEP), the Trade Federation of Parana (Fecomercio), Parana Association of Federal Judges (Apajufe ), Syndicate of Private Schools of Parana (SINEPE) Ocepar, Fetaep and ACP – 383 of 5,348 companies and individuals. The movement, a genuine cry of citizenship, shows that society reacts positively to complaints from the press.
The Legislative Assembly of Parana, in a recurrent reaction in similar situations, classified “Parana We Want” as an illegal and undemocratic campaign. In a letter titled “For a fair, legal and orderly Parana”, delivered to the OAB-PR, the prosecutor Marco Antonio Marconcin states that the anouncements of adherences published by the OAB-PR in Gazeta do Povo and aired on RPC TV hurt “the principle of legality and respect for institutions within the framework of constitutional democracy. ” The letter from the Assembly says the campaign encourages the disorder and “constitutes a reckless call of breach of the respect due to legal institutions; being an incitement to social upheaval.” It is the behavior of all time.”Legality” versus ethics. Presumption of innocence versus transparency in public affairs. As if it were possible to build the rule of law against the ethical values.
An enthusiastic record, a good example of journalists in Parana: a solid and irrefutable denunciation. Complements the duty of the complaint with what I call Bulldog journalism. We must all be a memory of citizenship. It would be nice, at election time, to remember the names of members and staff who actively participated in criminal misdeeds.
CARLOS EDUARDO LINS DA SILVA
Doctor and senior professor, is author of ten books, was Washington correspondent of the most important Brazilian newspaper and the chief judge of journalism in the country.
The Brazilian newspaper “Gazeta do Povo” and TV “RPC TV”, from Curitiba, gave an example of how engaged and responsible investigative journalism can be an effective tool for citizenship in search of political and institutional reform.
During two years, four reporters worked full time investigating a series of allegations of embezzlement and other crimes committed by State legislators in the state of Paraná.
In the best tradition of investigative journalism they went through public documents that were conveniently hidden from most of the public by Legislative officials.
When they finished, the series was published by print and electronic newspaper and by the TV station that belongs to the same group of media.
The series mobilized the audience. More than 90,000 citizens engaged in a movement demanding reform. Public attorneys constituted a task force to investigate all the allegations in a deeper way.
Arrests have been made, many people illegally hired have been fired, several public officers lost positions of power that the were holding for decades.
Most of all, thousands of people who were either ignorant of such ill practices of indifferent to them are now working to eliminate them.
The work deserves being acknowledged and its example shall be disseminated to other countries that, like Brazil, suffer with this kind of problems.
President of the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism – Abraji
The Secret Diaries series of reports is relevant to good journalism in Brazil by several aspects. I quote the following:
First, it was an exemplary job in which journalists used the CAR techniques to interpret the data.
Secondly, because it was an incentive to free access to public information, a right that is not fully established in Brazil.
Thirdly, the article was published by prestigous, but regional, media. Nonetheless, it had national impact and this aspect helps to strengthen the good Journalism also in media that had not previously appeared in the headlines of news of general interest in the country.
As the Communications Coordinator of Brazilian Bar Association in Parana State (OAB Parana), I’ve been following closely the work of the journalists involved in the production of the series “Secret Diaries” (“Diários Secretos”), by Gazeta do Povo newspaper. Besides giving the team support to investigate Parana State House of Representatives and interview lawyers as sources for the reports, the Brazilian Bar Association led a major campaign against the excesses committed in the State Legislature. The social movement was sparked by allegations published in Gazeta do Povo series of reports.
We are pleased to learn that Secret Diares team was preselected to the 2011 Knight International Journalism Awards. The information the reports revealed and the important results they brought up for the society surely deserve to be recognized. The journalists who have worked in the series are highly qualified and have done a very good job, not only working as a team, but also individually, in many other reports.
For all these reasons I endorse with enthusiasm their application to the Knight International Journalism Awards. If necessary, I’m available to clear any doubts you might have.
MÁRCIO RODRIGUES DE OLIVEIRA
President of the Sindijor – Journalists Union in the State of Paraná
The SINDIJOR-PR (Sindicato dos Jornalistas Profissionais do Parana), the journalists Union in the state of Parana, in defense of the material and moral values of the class in this state, recommends to the organizers of this award, the recognition of the examination board (or jury) to the series Secret Diaries, published in the newspaper Gazeta do Povo and broadcast on Grupo Paranaense de Comunicação television stations.
The reason why our organization recommends that article is the public reaction generated by press coverage in favor of citizenship for our citizens. The texts published in the newspaper and broadcasted on TV generated a reflection break in Parana´s society about local Legislature, where there was (and perhaps still is) a kind of endemic corruption. The result can be observed even today, when we observe and see a transformation in power.
The change, though slow, have been observed by changes in the management of public affairs and also improvement of transparency on the state Legislature.
Such examples should be followed by all the media in terms of coverage, as well as deepening and continuation of coverage would be very welcome to the evolution of our society in terms of responsibility.
No more for the moment, we renew our high esteem and consideration for this renowned Center for the development of journalism worldwide.
MARIA LUCIA FIGUEIREDO MOREIRA and PAULO OVIDIO DOS SANTOS LIMA
Prosecutors of the Public Ministry of the State of Paraná
As Prosecutors of the Public Ministry of the State of Parana and acting based upon the request made by Press Office of this Institution concerning the series of articles and reports “Secret Assembly Daily Files”, which was produced by the group of journalists from RPC, we would like to declare that the referred series was decisive for the investigations conducted by the Public Ministry of the State of Parana. The investigative procedure was undertaken satisfactorily, and generated five public administration improbity lawsuits and one comminatory nature lawsuit, all of them determining the single page daily files – documents through which the so called “secret” acts about nominations and dismissals of the employees of the Legislature were “publicized”- to cease.
It is also important to emphasize that the series of articles and reports “Secret Assembly Daily Files” caused great popular outcry and indignation due to the shameless corruption installed in that organ. The reports motivated the even fiercer quite smother conduction of the investigations by this parquet. All the effort made it possible to unveil, besides the publication of secret files, the existence of countless ghost employees, whose names were in the House’s payroll in complete disregard to the proper administrative procedure; records of salaries paid “mistakenly” twice, and leaves for holiday in consecutive months, and also bonuses with no legal basis were brought to light.
Finally, it is impossible to omit that the repercussion caused by the publication of the “Secret Assembly Daily Files” was so intense, it motivated several changes in the Legislative Assembly of the State of Parana. Among them, innumerable comissioned employees admitted were exonerated; it also ceased the misuse of public funds to pay “ghost” servers as well as the outrage committed by the executive board of the House. The inexistence of the slightest form of control regarding the admission of commissioned employees, nominated with no qualification whatsoever to perform duties not compliant with what is commanded by the Federal Constitution, became crystal clear.
For the reasons aforementioned, we, the Prosecutors acting in the Public Patrimony Protection area signing the document herein, insist that the series of articles and reports “Secret Assembly Daily Files” has performed a decisive role for the change, not only of the political culture, but of the own history of the Legislative Power and of the State of Parana.
Winner of 22 journalism awards and director of the Investigative Journalism Brazilian Association
I am glad to recommend the magnificent “Secret Diaries” reportage. The work performed by Gazeta do Povo and RPC-TV team is one of the finest examples of the journalistic excellence. After two years of investigations using a high level of professionalism, the journalists managed to unveil one of the most harmful corruption scheme ever known in the State of Paraná.
The positive results of this work can be measured not only by the changes that led to more transparency in the Legislative Assembly of the State of Paraná, but also for the capacity to mobilize the society for searching more ethics in politics. The society can, once again, reinforce their trust in the press as instrument to achieve justice and democracy.
RICARDO COSTA DE OLIVEIRA
PhD Professor, Chief of the Social Sciences Department of the Federal University of the State of Paraná.
In March 2010, RPC (Rede Paranaense de Comunicação, the largest media group in the State of Parana and parent company of TV Paranaense and the newspaper Gazeta do Povo) deflagrated the campaign named “Secret Diarie,” unveiling scandals and the political crisis generated by the publishing of the files of the Legislative Assembly of the State of Paraná (ALEP). The reporters responsible for the campaign were young professionals with Gazeta do Povo/RPC TV: Karlos Kohlbach, Katia Brembatti, James Alberti and Gabriel Tabatcheik. The denunciations went on for months and provided an x-ray picture of the political practices behind the legislative power in the State of Paraná. The Public Ministry, the Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil (Brazilian Lawyer’s Association) and law experts calculate that more than BRL 1 bi was siphoned from the Public Treasury. As a consequence of the “Secret Assembly Daily Files” journalistic series, prosecutors accused three former directors of the House. The accused have been sent to jail: Abib Miguel (general director), José Ary Nassiff (administrative director) and Cláudio Marques da Silva (HR director). Besides being accused of siphoning public funds, they were also facing charges for conspiracy, forgery and money laundering. The Assembly Daily Files were manipulated and never publicized. Information was concealed so that secret nominations could be made. The House former general director, Abib Miguel, nominated decades ago and kept in the job by State Representative Aníbal Khury, acquired several assets, including huge farms. A whole corruption network has been dismantled, even though some lawmakers continue to benefit from their acts remain unpunished.
The impact of “Secret Assembly Daily Files” journalistic series to the society and politics in the State of Parana was huge. It made it public a political culture of nepotism, “familism”, corruption and embezzlement happening at the political core of the State of Paraná. For the first time in history, the local press and television were able to unveil an illegal and complex political activities network. Due to the series, there was great civil society mobilization that generated several social activities including marches, rallies, and civic and political acts demanding a more transparent, modern and efficient ALEP. We can say this was a landmark for the Legislative Power of the State of Paraná’s history. Regarding political communications, it made possible to create a new paradigm for investigations and critical research. The series is also a landmark for the press and TV in the State of Parana and in Brazil, with positive consequences that allow improvements for the human rights, the citizenship, the legislative institutions and the democracy in our state and in our country.