Adriana Montanaro-Mena

Reversed Arguments: Transformation of an Issue on Human Rights into a Scandalous one

Adriana Montanaro-Mena focuses on scandals in the context of human rights and social movements and discusses a case in Brazilian media and politics: the construction of the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant. The author analyzes the dominant narratives behind the construction of the plant and illustrates how political and corporate public relations managed to frame social movements and the violation of human rights in Brazilian media. Montanaro-Mena argues that the case of Belo Monte was not a scandal because it became clear that institutions that were responsible for licensing the hydroelectric plant had exploited indigenous communities, as one would expect. Rather, the scandalization revolved around a supposedly undue enforcement of human rights by social movements. Influenced by corporate and political strategic communication, issues about the values of democratic decision-making and precautionary measures that meant to protect indigenous people passed to a secondary level on the media agenda. Thus, the study contributes to the ongoing critical discussion how to evaluate democracies in which journalism has become (too) easily influenced by special interests of corporate and political elites.

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