The Brazilian press isn’t mentioning Zika

Brazil is in the international media for various reasons. The most important current events attracting the media are President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment, corruption scandals involving high authorities, the Olympics and zika virus. But, there is a not subtle difference between the domestic and the international press coverage, for the Brazilian press, zika virus nearly doesn’t exist.

The Brazilian press is fairly independent, but quality and competition are questionable. Globo is by far the biggest media network in Brazi. But apparently that doesn’t translate into quality and recently The New York Times released an interesting story about the lack of quality of Globo’s journalism on TV (read the NYT story). But the weird fact is the world press and authorities are intensely talking about the Zika virus, it reached a point where some Olympic athletes such as Michael Phelps were openly talking about not attending the games, not to mention airlines are reorganizing the roster if members of their crew decline traveling to the country.

There aren’t official numbers to rely on. But any viewer can attest the prevailing subject in the Brazilian press today is corruption in politics and the Olympics come second. Brazil has a long story of corruption, impunity for the wealthiest and for the first time in history politicians are actually afraid of law enforcement, historically it’s the other way around. This is relevant especially when you take into perspective the culture of the country where voting is mandatory and people show up mainly because they have to instead of being conscious about the importance of voting. Besides, law enforcement is doing a good job feeding the press by arresting big political figures every so often. So, to an extent is understandable that zika isn’t the main subject in the media.

The virus doesn’t have any visual symptoms. Consequently the lack of images with lots of sick people in a hospital certainly helps to keep it low profile. But especially with the Olympics around the corner, athletes of the caliber of Michael Phelps were openly talking about not attending the games and important world health scholars are stepping up against the Olympics at this moment or in Brazil as time passes and games approach. With all this facts, it has reached a point where it’s hard to understand the reasons the Brazilian press isn’t talking about zika.


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