Journalism and Memory: 40 Years of Political Covers in Veja Magazine

Renné Oliveira França


This paper describes and analyzes the political covers of Veja magazine, the best-selling weekly magazine in Brazil. The objective is to understand the meanings embedded in images and texts over 40 years of the magazine and characterize the memory measured from their covers from the way the events were represented there between 1968 and 2008. Realizing that crucial issues of contemporary culture are currently located at the threshold between the memory and the media, this work (which seeks collective memory formed by a set of discourses and representations) realizes memory as a result of a constant struggle and dispute, using the concept of social memory once it is a more flexible conception of memory as something able to change according to the values and ideas in the society. The representations of events in Veja covers produce memory because they are open to the creation of concepts that are formed in a constant struggle made from different sources with communicative interaction between the subjects to establish a proper sense. This constant struggle of different representations that is updated over time is exactly the social memory produced by the magazine. Taking into account the aspects of the visual elements of the covers - graphics, photos, colors, typefaces - we seek to understand how those social representations can built a memory. The Veja magazine presents a repertoire of events on their covers that contributes to a dynamic memory that is built in this interface, in the confrontation and mixture of statements that extend its meaning beyond the place where it is exposed and can be an overview of what was the Brazil - and the world - to its reader. The social representations of the events in the magazine covers are presented following the norms, values and rules of the media institution. To understand how these models guide this social memory built over 40 years, we chose here a specific case study related to Veja political covers. To think of their social memory, it is important to understand the discursive exchanges over the years, in which a speech of one decade, when confronted with another, reveals a discursive system of Veja in its entirety, formed by the relationship between the different representations promoted over the years. We used the semiotic and the discursive analysis to relate image and text in an attempt to realize the symbolic representation built by the magazine. From the context of the event represented, we sought to understand this representation from texts, images and symbols found from the following forms of analysis: Positioning Place: the institutional voice of the magazine and Expression plan x Content plan: the event represented. The initial cut of the survey was 2,107 Veja editions released between 1968 and 2008. The covers selected were pointed by the magazine itself as the best-selling ones and those that it considers its greatest stories. Random covers were also selected over the years following the method “calendar built”: starting from its first edition, we went to the edition published in the following week of the following month of the following year. They were also inserted all retrospective covers of the magazine. So we came up to an empirical cut of 114 covers. Of these, 26 cases were on Politics, which are discussed here.Journalism seems not interested in the production of a memory.  Attentive to the present, it builds representations that are ephemeral by nature in its constant replacement by newer representations. These representations, however, are constantly repeated in a communicative exchange with society in order to build, over time, a symbolic reality. As an informative magazine, Veja works with these representations created in its discursive space and programmed to last one week. Nevertheless, the repetitions eventually lead to discursive models that are from the institution. From this emerges Veja’s memory that, as the covers of the same magazine, presents a stable form, thanks to its institutional strength, revealing essentially liberal and male.

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