Last week, hundreds of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets and millions more stayed home in a general strike. Airports, factories, schools, public services were all shut down.

Last year, a different set of protests brought down a different government - that of former President Dilma Rousseff. But last year's demonstrations got wall-to-wall coverage in Brazil's privately-owned news outlets - including Globo, which is as dominant a TV presence as you will find in any country.

The Temer government is buying editorial support.

Joao Filho, journalist, The Intercept Brasil

The subsequent impeachment of Rousseff paved the way for the current president, Michel Temer, whose austerity-based response to an economic recession led to the general strike last week.

But this time around Globo and other media outlets don't seem to find the protest story quite so compelling.

"The gulf in coverage is vast. The protests calling for impeachment against the Dilma government had huge visibility, with Globo's helicopter capturing the protest from the air and covering it all day long. With protests against Michel Temer, this doesn't exist," says journalist Joao Filho of The Intercept Brasil.

"When it came to the general strike the word 'strike' was avoided - they talk only about demonstrations, protests and vandalism," Filho says.

So why did the media treat the two strikes differently?

Critics suggest that's because right-wing media outlets prefer Temer and his austerity programme to Rousseff and her leftist predecessor Lula da Silva - and the social programmes that they brought in.

Another factor might be that Temer's government has been using taxpayers' money to persuade the news media to support his conservative agenda.

Like Globo, Brazil's other major networks, SBT and Record are family-owned or controlled - and their proprietors tend to tilt to the right politically, which is reflected in the coverage their platforms provide.

"The Temer government is buying editorial support. It's not simply increasing advertising funds, no - it's exchanging advertising funds for editorial support," says Filho. 

Interestingly, "strikers and demonstrators were never interviewed; our arguments for the general strike were never heard. The mainstream media clearly had an editorial tendency to discredit the strike," says Adriana Magalhaes, a press officer representing the United Workers' Central.

With multiple investigations into corruption, economic reforms affecting future pension cheques, state spending on advertising and where that money goes, the Brazilian political story is a complicated one. The story of the media reporting on it, really isn't.

Contributors:
Vladimir Goitia, financial journalist
Joao Filho, journalist, The Intercept Brasil
Adriana Magalhaes, press officer, United Workers' Central
Joao Feres, media analyst

Source: Al Jazeera