“Naked Truth” RSF campaign to defend reliable reporting in Brazil

In Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro uses lies and attacks on the media to mask his inability to address the Covid-19 pandemic’s devastating impact, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is about to launch a communication campaign called the “Naked Truth” to highlight journalism’s vital importance in providing access to reliable information about the pandemic.

Produced by the BETC Paris advertising agency and to be launched on 22 February, the new RSF campaign will draw attention to the naked truth – the reality of the facts beyond Bolsonaro’s preposterous and manipulative claims – by means of a photomontage showing him naked* behind a sign displaying the latest figures for Covid-19 deaths and positive tests**.


The aim is to make Bolsonaro symbolically face reality, instead of blaming the media in order to shirk responsibility for his disastrous mishandling of the crisis in Brazil, which has the world’s third-highest number of confirmed Covid-19 infections. The aim is also to emphasize the importance of facts for understanding the pandemic and taking appropriate action, facts that Brazilians could not access without the work that journalists do.


This ‘shock’ campaign is meant to raise awareness and combat the Bolsonaro system’s constant attacks on the media,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “These attacks are both intolerable from the moral viewpoint and dangerous for the Brazilian population, which is deprived of vital information about the pandemic. The work of journalists is crucial for reporting the facts and informing people about the reality of the health crisis. The right to information, which is closely linked to the right to health, must be defended more than ever in  Brazil.


The work of the Brazilian media has become much more fraught since Bolsonaro was elected president in October 2018. Constantly insulting, denigrating, stigmatizing and humiliating journalists has become the president’s trademark. Any media revelation threatening his or his administration’s interests triggers a new round of violent verbal attacks.


In January, he invited journalists to “go have sex with their whore mothers” and to “ram condensed milk cans up their backsides.” These outrageous and crudely-worded comments were just the latest volley in a well-oiled strategy of attacks on the media by the president and his closest allies, as RSF noted when reporting that it had logged no fewer than 580 attacks on the media in 2020.


The “Naked Truth” is one of a long line of powerful, irreverent communication campaigns that RSF uses to draw the public’s and international community’s attention to violations of the freedom to inform. Produced by the BETC Paris advertising agency, it is available in four languages (Portuguese, Spanish, French and English).


Brazil is ranked 107th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.



**Figures as of 21 February 2021. Source: Consortium of Brazilian newspapers consisting of UOL, O Estado de S. Paulo, Folha de S. Paulo, O Globo, G1 and Extra, which decided on 8 June 2020 to create an unprecedented alliance to obtain coronavirus case numbers directly from local authorities in the country’s 26 states and the Brasilia federal district, and to issue their own bulletins.


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Updated on 11.03.2021