Cases of aggression to communication professionals in a political, partisan and electoral context already reach 137 in 2018, according to the Associação Brasileira Jornalismo Investigativo (Abraji) survey. There were 82 digital media attacks (affecting 69 professionals) and another 71 physical attacks (affecting 66).
Most of the physical incidences are related to the coverage of rallies or events of great repercussion related to elections. A bus carrying 28 journalists covering former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's caravan in southern Brazil was hit by gunshots coming from opponents. During the coverage of the enprisonment of the former worker’s party ex-president, 19 other professionals were harassed or beaten.
The most recent case occurred in Mato Grosso do Sul, in 27.Oct.2018. The reporter Renata Volpe Haddad (Correio do Estado) was harassed by Bolsonaro voters who celebrated the election result. Some pulled out her professional badge, identifying her last name (same as that of the defeated candidate, Fernando Haddad). The journalist turned her badge to hide the name. On leaving the place, her hair was pulled.
Among the digital media cases, the majority (65%) are of undue exposure of communicators, when the perpetrators share photos and / or profiles indicating that the professional would follow an ideology and thus encouraging mass offenses. Such aggressions occur especially on Facebook and on Twitter.
Public people and politicians, such as economist Rodrigo Constantino, humorist Danilo Gentili, journalist (and now federal representative PSL-SP) Joice Hasselmann, federal representative Eduardo Bolsonaro (PSL-SP) and prosecutors Marcelo Rocha Monteiro (MP -RJ) and Ailton Benedito (MPF-GO) are among the perpetrators of the violations.
Profiles in social networks linked to conservative and far-reaching themes such as Movimento Brasil Livre (MBL) are also on the list of digital media cases. In May, the group produced a "dossier" accusing journalists of partisan bias and acting as "censors." The survey was made after the disclosure of a partnership of fact checking agencies with Facebook. In the document, circulated via WhatsApp and Facebook, there are photos of journalists classified as "left" and "far left", removed from social networks, and the reproduction of posts that would "prove" the political inclination of these professionals.
One of the most recent cases was the journalist Patrícia Campos Mello (Folha de S.Paulo). The reporter was victim of targeted harassment and mass offenses in social networks. The actions began after the publication of the story "Businessmen Fund WhatsApp Campaign Against PT". The reporter also had her WhatsApp account hacked and pro-Bolsonaro messages were sent to some of her contacts.
As expressed in notes on the cases mentioned, Abraji is solidary with the reporters and repudiates the aggressions. Offenses, harassment and threats to journalists aimed at silencing them are symptoms of contempt for democracy. The right to information, essential for society as a whole, is compromised when media professionals are prevented from plying their trade freely.