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Media : Brazil's Press Simply Globo Over Summit : No detail of the environment sessions was too small to cover. Three new dailies sprang up just to track the event.

June 16, 1992|WILLIAM R. LONG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

RIO DE JANEIRO — The U.N. Conference on Environment and Development that ended here Sunday was a media mega-event, and nowhere did it get more ink and air time than in Brazil. In fact, three new dailies sprang up just to cover the 12-day conference.

No claim about the conference was too grandiose to report in Brazilian newspapers and television, no detail too small or frivolous.

"Rio Is the Center of the World for Three Days," boasted a headline in the daily Folha de Sao Paulo.

"Chiefs of the World Arrive for the Greatest Encounter in History," said the main headline Friday in Rio's Jornal do Brasil.

"For the first time, more than 100 government leaders discuss together the future of the Earth," said the introduction to Saturday's midday news program on TV Globo, Brazil's biggest network.

Everything from the Secret Service's dog to plastic surgery to shopping habits of the rich and famous was fair game for press commentary.

An item in the "Swann" column in the Rio daily O Globo: "The security team that will accompany President Bush to Rio includes a dog. Belgian shepherd, called 'Arnold,' it arrived in the city yesterday and it loves to bite ecologists."

"Swann" also said French President Francois Mitterrand was arriving from Paris in "the biggest aerial procession of the season," a Concorde trailed by a Lear jet, a DC-8, a 747 and a cargo plane carrying his armored limousine. "It is a bigger fleet than Bush's--with whom Mitterrand loves to compete in peacockery," the column said.

On the eve of the arrival of President Carlos Saul Menem of neighboring Argentina, an article in Jornal do Brasil detailed how Menem, 61, allegedly uses plastic surgery, makeup and hair-styling to keep a youthful look.

"Before any press interview, Menem undergoes 30 minutes of makeup," said the article, by the newspaper's correspondent in Buenos Aires.

"Informe JB," a column in Jornal do Brasil, revealed a gaffe in a luncheon invitation from Barbara Bush to the wife of Brazilian President Fernando Collor de Mello. The invitation referred to the Brazilian first lady by her maiden name, which is customary in some Latin American countries but not in Brazil.

"Dona Barbara Bush is not going to lunch with Dona Rosane Collor, but with Dona Rosane Malta," the column said. "It's the same as calling the First Lady of the USA Dona Barbara Pierce."

On another day, "Informe JB" told on Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol of Thailand for playing hooky from the conference to shop. "The princess practically doesn't leave a jewelry store in Ipanema. The day before yesterday, she spent all day there. It even seems that, instead of buying, she is selling the crown jewels."

There was flattering coverage of Cuban Fidel Castro, which contrasted with critical coverage of President Bush--who seemingly asked for it by refusing to sign the summit's biological diversity treaty.

"Fidel Demands Less Waste by the Rich," said a headline across the top of a page in Jornal do Brasil. "USA Does Not Accept Criticism," said a headline about Bush's speech on the next page.

O Globo reported that when Mrs. Bush visited a Rio orphanage, she was all smiles until someone asked whether her husband would sign the biodiversity treaty." 'No,' she responded flatly, closing the short interview," O Globo said.

A column called "The Restless Summit Elf" noted that Castro said Cuba barely pollutes the atmosphere but neglected "to mention that the island emits less and less CO2 (carbon dioxide) because it receives less and less oil" since petroleum shipments from the former Soviet Union stopped. "And as we all know, bicycles don't cause pollution," said "The Elf."

The column was a feature of Terra Viva, a temporary daily newspaper published here in English and in Spanish during the summit. Edited by IPS, an international news service that concentrates on developing countries, Terra Viva was especially critical of Bush.

"U.S. President Snubs His Nose at Rest of the World," said one of its headlines. "Greenpeace: Bush Is an 'Environmental Degenerate,' " said another.

Two other temporary dailies were published in English during the summit, one as a trimmed-down edition of Jornal do Brasil, and another, Earth Summit Times, as "The Official Newspaper of Record for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development."

Nearly 9,000 journalists from around the world registered to cover the summit, and although not all of them came, thousands did.

So, the Brazilian media were well aware of international media attention.

Some Brazilian newspapers printed reviews of summit coverage by foreign papers. "Biodiversity Dominates News in British Press," said a headline in Rio's daily O Globo. Another: "Italian Newspapers Give Little Space to Rio-92."

Some Brazilian press stories put Rio's best foot forward, touting such attractions as Tijuca Forest, a lush tropical reserve within the city limits. But other articles called attention to polluted beaches, dirty air and crime.

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