LASICS .::. Open Conference Systems, IAMCR 2010: Communication and Citizenship

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“Building political audiences during censorship times. A study about the Portuguese National Assembly during 1968-1974”

Carla Maria Baptista

Last modified: 2010-07-05


This paper focuses on the last years of Estado Novo (1968-1974) in Portugal, after Salazar’s death and under the government headed by his follower, Marcelo Caetano. Although the political field remained a dictatorship based in the lack of freedom of the press, newspapers divided, in a very expressive way, into liberals and conservatives, reflecting the high level of politization of the civil society and a progressive demand of political journalism from a larger public.
One of the strategies used by journalist to enlarge their political influence was a radical change in the coverage of the National Assembly (Parliament) activities. Due to the existence of a small group of deputes, know as the Liberal Wing, that forum become a theatrical arena, where young liberal politicians and future leaders searched visibility and power. Journalists helped them in that purpose, assuring large publicity to their legislative initiatives toward liberalization and democratization.
Due to the existence of censorship to the press, most of the street protests made by workers and students during the late 60’s and throughout the decade of the 70’s couldn’t be covered by the newspapers. The same silence surrounded the colonial war, started at 1961 and only ended in 1974.
But it was much harder to prevent circulation of the speeches of the liberal deputes, along with their interviews and opinion articles. In that measure, we argue that the spectacularization of political confrontations inside governmental institutions was a powerful resource do arise attention, spread dissentient and build a political progressive audience.

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