The initiative will promote research focused on business journalism and media coverage of public policy issues. Thus, it aims to contribute to the best practices in journalism in Brazil
In 2021, Insper opens the Celso Pinto Center. It will have, among its goals, the one of contributing to the improvement of the practice of journalism in Brazil, especially in the coverage of topics on economics and public policy. The Center will act through research, knowledge generation, publications, and the promotion of debates.
With different fronts of activity, it hopes to support the best researchers in journalism. The Center will focus on applied economics. It will have a practical bias of promoting from practical experience better ways to work following the principles of evidence-based journalism, supported by data, and seeking the greatest possible impartiality.
Carlos Eduardo Lins Da Silva will be the coordinator of the Celso Pinto Center. He is a livre-docente (senior associate professor) and Doctor of Communication from USP, Master from Michigan State University (as a Fulbright scholar), and a Global Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. There, he did his post-doctoral studies. In journalism, he worked at Folha de S. Paulo newspaper, where he was deputy editorial director, correspondent in the U.S., and ombudsman. Prof. Lins Da Silva also worked at Valor Econômico newspaper, where he was deputy editorial director. He was also editor of Política Externa magazine and anchor of São Paulo TV Cultura’s talk show Roda Viva.
To mark the Center’s launch, on May 3, at 11 a.m., an online event will be held (in Portuguese). It will bring together journalists with recognized experience covering economic issues for the debate “Os desafios do jornalismo econômico nesta década (The challenges of economic journalism in this decade).” At the meeting, the experts will share their experiences working in leading Brazilian outlets and discuss the prospects for their work in the coming years. Click here to register!
In the following interview, Carlos discusses his academic career, explains the main research objects pursued by the new center, comments on the importance of Celso Pinto for business journalism, and talks about some of the study group’s projects. See it below:
– In your trajectory, how did the initiative to research communication and its relations with economic and public policy issues come about?
I am a journalist by trade, but in 1975 I won a scholarship to do a masters in the U.S. and fell in love with the academic experience. Upon returning, I did my doctorate and livre-docência (a scholarly research work aimed at a post-doctoral teaching position in Brazil) at the University of São Paulo’s School of Communications and Arts. However, I never left my profession. During all this time in academia, I also worked in newsrooms.
Business journalism is not my specialty. I followed this path because journalist Celso Pinto invited me to be the deputy director of Valor Econômico newspaper in 1999. I had already worked for several years at Folha de S. Paulo newspaper, taking on director, ombudsman, and international correspondent positions. As a correspondent, I had to cover many topics, including the economics desk, due to Brazil’s strong financial relations with the U.S. government and international banks. That gave me some knowledge in the field of economics, but I was never an expert on the subject.
– How did the idea of discussing journalism and communications come about? Did the journalism hub created at Insper in 2018 influence the new Center?
The Journalism Hub was instrumental. I joined this group in early 2019, within a full-time graduate project planned by [professors] João Gabriel de Lima and Irineu Gianesi. Even with the possibility of generous Insper scholarships, there were not enough interested people. That was so because the program was a full-time one, and people could not simultaneously have a job.
When we were trying to match our academic ambitions to reality in December 2019, we had a meeting at which we came up with the idea of a center for business journalism studies. For me, it made much sense to place this center at Insper. It is recognized as one of the best schools for economics in Latin America and a center of debate for different views on economic policies.
As it deals specifically with business journalism and public policy-related issues, the center will be a rare institution in the world. When searching for other similar examples, I found few peers in other countries. At the same time, in the journalistic landscape, the business specialty stands out, unlike most desks, for having been growing in recent years. In 2020, several titles emerged, and others, which already existed, attracted investors to make their business viable. I think it is largely due to the extensive mobilization of individuals towards the stock market.
– Why naming the center after journalist Celso Pinto?
Undoubtedly, Celso was Brazil’s most respected business journalist at the end of the last century and the beginning of this century. He was highly respected by the best economists, who read him and admired his work. Besides, he built the most important business news outlet in Brazil, which is Valor Econômico. And he did that based on the principles of journalism he followed and practiced: Evidence-based, data-based journalism, without political partisanship and ideological passion, seeking the canons of the greatest possible impartiality.
By naming the Center after Celso, Insper signals to society that this is the kind of journalism the school believes in and wants to encourage with its teaching and learning. Celso’s name associates the center and the school with the best practices of journalism made in Brazil.
– How important is academic research to improve journalism practices and help improve public debate?
The Center will focus on knowledge production and research. Research is important for any field of knowledge, including the humanities, as it raises elements and data that are more immune to ideology. For you to improve the quality of the work you do, you need a more objective knowledge of reality, and the one that provides these elements is research, above all.
I have always considered journalism as an application of academic research criteria and principles. That was something I defended, for example, at [Folha de S. Paulo’s] Projeto Folha [editorial project], in the 1980s. I see the journalistic storyline almost as a research project, a set of hypotheses to be tested and verified in the field. The outcome of using this methodology is a product that is more acceptable than one made based on just one person’s ideas.
So I think research and journalism have everything to do with each other, and for you to improve your journalism practices, you need to do research. It is crucial to have measurements and indices to compare practices and discover the number of exclusive stories, factual errors, sources used to write a story, and so on. [We have to] Try to check how a newspaper is actually made, to improve it and help us get away from mere impressionism.
– What impacts does Insper intend to generate with the new Center?
That will depend on how much we will be able to produce in research. For instance, something I intend to encourage within the Center is organizing the history of the Gazeta Mercantil. It was Brazil’s biggest and best business newspaper for most of the 20th century. That history needs to be recovered so that we can know what was done at the Gazeta exactly and how, why it was so successful, and why it failed in the end.
Another analysis we want to do is understanding how Brazilian business journalists select their sources when writing news stories. We often feel that sources repeat themselves too much, which makes the public debate in newspapers somewhat repetitive and predictable. With good research on this topic, we can know better how journalism is done and how it can improve going forward.
Those are some examples of research we hope to do. It will have some impact on the practice of journalism. We are also thinking of creating guides of sorts to good journalism on subspecialties. Some examples are guides to coverage on agribusiness, stock markets, the automobile industry, technology, among others. To this end, we need to know what is done and have a critical reading of the practices to make a valuable product for journalists who cover those topics.
Initiatives aim to train professionals for innovation and digital transformation in the public sector