Wednesday, January 02, 2019

News in name only

There's not a lot of real estate in the local paper these days for the world beyond southeast Michigan, and you'd have to agree that Brazil accounted for a good chunk of it on Wednesday. The problem isn't the space; it's mistaking coverage for news.

The caption certainly appears to be accurate:

The presidential convoy, led by Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro and his wife, heads to the National Congress for his swearing-in. CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

... if hardly Shakespearean in letting you know where you are right  away. But the broader takeaway point from the space devoted to Brazil seems to be more like: "Those quaint foreigners: Cavalry AND a Rolls convertible!"

On the opposite page, accounting for the bulk of N&W space, the top story is devoted to THE WALL, quoting (by my count) five tweets from the president and two from the incoming House speaker. The most interesting Trump tweet of the day -- in the narrow sense of "policy-relevant," rather than "deranged ranting with frimfram sauce and a side of batshit" -- isn't among them:
If it's the kind of "great inauguration speech" that has the president proclaiming his support, I'd really like to know more about it than what kind of expensive car Bolsonaro took to  his inaugural.

There is some thorough coverage to be found, usually including at least some pictures (because pictures). Here's the Guardian, for example:

Jair Bolsonaro has announced Brazil’s “liberation from socialism, inverted values, the bloated state and political correctness” after being sworn in as the country’s 42nd president.

His words delighted a crowd of more than 100,000 – many of whom had travelled to its modernist capital for the event, convinced the far-right populist can rescue their troubled country from virulent corruption, rising violent crime and economic doldrums.

Granted, international news doesn't pay the rent at your standard metro daily. Broadly, it never did, but the cheerful side of the bargain -- should you want to know whom your president is cuddling the country up with -- was that amid the profusion of 5x18 department store ads cropping up for returns season, there was a lot of room for words;, and by default some of those words were going to be about the outside world. You could, in other words, have formed an idea of where President Bolsonaro was headed that might have helped you put the inauguration speech into context. A big photo with horses and cool uniforms, on the other hand, is news in name only.

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