20.07 The Gazeta as a case in point

Pioneers of Journalism in Portugal: the Gazeta as a case in point (1641-1647)

 

Jorge Pedro Sousa (University Fernando Pessoa and Media and Journalism Research Center - CIMJ)

Sandra Tuna (University Fernando Pessoa)

jpsousa@ufp.edu.pt

stuna@ufp.edu.pt

 

Abstract

Who were the Portuguese "journalists" who, in the first half of the 17th century, began journalistic practice in Portugal? What did they write about? Who were their sources? What kind of routines did they have? What kind of constraints did they face? This study aims to answer these questions. It is based on bibliographic and document research and on speech and content analysis of the first Portuguese periodical newspaper, the Gazeta (1641-1647). We have concluded that the first Portuguese "journalists" were educated priests. For them, writing news gazettes was more an “occupation” than a profession. They wrote news very similar to the ones dealt with by nowadays journalism, based on interviews with different sources, letters and translations from foreign newspapers. We have also concluded that Portuguese newspapers faced two kinds of censorship: religious, enforced by (other) members of the Catholic Church; and political, enforced by bureaucrats. Taxes and a high level of illiteracy constrained the diffusion of the news during the 17th century, but, on the other hand, newspapers were read in public spaces all over the country.

Key-words

Journalism; Portugal; History of Journalism; 17 th century; journalists.

 

Introduction

In the second half of the 16 th century, following the trends that were taking shape in Europe, the first Portuguese occasional news reports were published. They reported on certain events, in the form of small books, which became generally known as ‘Relações’ (reports) (Sousa et al., 2007; Tengarrinha, 1989). They gave continuity to the medieval chronicles.

In the beginning of the 17th century, some Portuguese, such as Manuel Severim de Faria, became news providers. They wrote occasional newssheets and they became the direct ancestors of the Portuguese gazetteers, not by profession but by occupation (Sousa et al., 2007).

The first Portuguese gazetteers, as can be confirmed in the work of Sousa et al. (2007), were people who occasional or periodically recorded and disseminated news items to various correspondents and to the elite publics of that time, by means of handwritten or printed newssheets. Even, the first multi-theme Portuguese newssheets resembled letters, which is why they are known as newsletters, among other names. These newssheets (or newsletters) supplied both domestic and international correspondent networks, through which, from the Renaissance, European literates, particularly clergymen, academics and aristocrats, learned about what was happening in Europe and about new ideas, discoveries and inventions. A consolidated flow of international news information was developing throughout Europe. News people transmitted news to each other. News items resulted from their observation of whatever they heard about (in other letters, by interviewing sources or listening to travellers, sailors and witnesses). Such news givers may be regarded as ‘journalists’ by occupation, as we stated before.

The printing of newsletters and news books, first occasionally and then periodically, gave rise to the newspapers, as we know them today. The object of this study is precisely the Gazeta ‘da Restauração’ (‘Restoration’ Gazette), the first Portuguese periodical paper, published between 1641 and 1647. It aims to present and describe the writers of this publication, who can be regarded as the first Portuguese journalists, by means of documental evidence and discourse analysis (qualitative and quantitative), as well as bibliographic research. We will attempt to answer the following questions: Who were the gazetteers who began the Portuguese journalism? What did they write about? Who and what were their sources? What was their daily routine? What kind of constraints did they face?

 

1. The Gazeta “da Restauração” (Restoration Gazette)

This gazette is sometimes called by the title of its first edition - Gazeta em Que Se Relatam as Novas Todas Que Houve Nesta Corte e Que Vieram de Várias Partes no Mês de Novembro de 1641(Gazette that reports on all News of This Court and Which Come from Various Sources in the Month of November) – or by its name in the plural form – Gazetas da Restauração (Restoration Gazettes). ‘Restauração’ is, however, only a nickname that refers to the period when it was published – The Restoration of Independence of Portugal, 60 years after its union with the Castilian kingdom (Spain). On the other hand, the plural form, ‘Gazettes’, is somehow inaccurate as this periodical got the name Gazeta alone (Gazette) from December 1641 – Gazette of (+ month).

Even though it did not maintain a regular periodicity, the Gazeta may be regarded as a periodical publication since at least 37 issues came out successively throughout six years, between November 1641 and September 1647, which made it possible for its public to get news on a regular basis.

In July 1642, the Gazeta suspended its publication due to a law that banned gazettes containing ‘news of the Kingdom or outside, owing to the poor truthfulness of some and bad style of all of them’[1], though, in fact, the suspension was probably the result of ‘excessive truthfulness’, which may have upset Royal Power. Nonetheless, the Gazeta resumed its publication in October 1642 under the name ‘de Novas Fora do Reino’ (Gazette of News Outside the Kingdom), though, occasionally it included news on the Alentejo front of the Restoration of the Independence War and news about Portuguese diplomatic missions, among others, probably with the consent or even convenience of the political power. Thus, we may say that governors, then like today, were suspicious of incipient journalistic publications, even when these publications were at their service, which was the case of the Gazeta. These publications were subjected to licensing and previous censorship – both civil and clerical. Journalism, apparently harmless, turned out to be like a rash for power holders, who did not hesitate to apply taxes and censorship to newspapers to make sales more difficult and to make them more harmless, in order to control the status quo.

Taxes, which made the Gazeta more expensive, and the low rates of literacy conspired, in fact, to make this publication only affordable for a few elites (Tengarrinha, 1989, pp. 35-39), although we should consider that a few issues, acquired by ‘news traders’, were actually read in several public places, increasing the number of news receivers.

Based on a sample of 22 issues of the Gazeta, it is possible to say that, by reflecting the situations of the Restoration and of the War of the 30 Years that was burning across Europe, this publication paid special attention to war events. This is what can be seen below, in Table 1:

 

Table 1

Main issues covered by the Gazeta

Issues

%

Political and administrative life

24

Social and religious life

9

Economic life

3

Military events and warfare

49

Natural catastrophes and accidents

3

Diseases and famine

3

Crimes

1

Strange events

2

Discoveries

4

Other issues

2

Total

100

 

Besides the huge percentage of news on wars, it is not surprising that 24% of subjects are concerned with political and administrative issues, due to the political and diplomatic efforts of the new Portuguese regime and the new Royal dynasty of Braganza to be legitimated all across Europe. To the remaining issues were given less attention, except for social and religious life matters, which were still significantly covered (9% of news).

The Gazeta, however, did not ignore what was going on in the world at large, including simple short news pieces on warfare, political decisions, discoveries, crime, catastrophes and accidents, shows and feasts, diseases, births and deaths, etc. in a rather secular tone.

It should be noted that a significant number (75%) of news in the Gazeta came from abroad, in particular during the second period of this publication. In fact, in the seventeenth century, there was already a fairly consolidated international flow of news thanks to the translations that were done from gazettes of several countries and to the letters that circulated in European networks, well consolidated among elites.

At least three printers took part in the edition of the Gazeta: Lourenço de Anvers, Domingos Lopes Rosa e António Alvarez. However, the editors and writers of the Gazeta were not the same as the printers. In fact, it is known that Royal publication privilege of the first issue of the Gazeta was granted to Manuel de Galhegos, by a license of November 1641. He became the first writer of the Gazeta, the first Portuguese gazetteer.

 

2. The writers of the Gazeta

2.1 Manuel de Galhegos

Identifying all the writers of the Gazeta is not an easy task. Manuel de Galhegos (1597-1665) was probably the first editor of the Gazeta, according to the royal licence of 14 November 1641. Tengarrinha (2006, p.29) explains that this licence shows the monarch’s (João IV) confidence on this secular presbyter, who, after becoming a widower turned to religious life. Nonetheless, Tengarrinha (2006, p.29) claims that Galhegos appointed Miguel de Mascaranhas de Azevedo to be in charge of the paper writing. Alfredo da Cunha (1941, 56-57) also believes that Galhegos writing skills were much better than the ones revealed in the Gazeta, which means that he may have not been doing the writing himself. Besides, according to Cunha, the suspension of this paper and others, on the 19th August 1642, only happened because it was not Galhegos, whom the king considered highly and who was faithful to the king, who actually wrote the paper. Heitor Martins (1964), on the other hand, defends that it was Galhegos who wrote the Gazeta at least up to its suspension, in August 1642. He presents the following arguments in favour of Manuel de Galhegos, whom he regards as the first Portuguese journalist: 1) Manuel de Galhegos had already taken part in the writing of news texts (‘reports’), namely in the Account of What happened in the Jolly Acclamation of (…) King D. João IV (Lisbon, 1641), hence it is not plausible that he did not take part in the writing of the Gazeta; 2) In fact, the content of the edict does not allow us to conclude that Galhegos would hire someone else to write the Gazeta, since edicts of the same type were always written in favour of the authors, giving them permission to print and sell and not to ‘write’, since that would be implicit.

Manuel de Galhegos was one of the Portuguese intellectuals who defended the cause of the Restoration of Independence, and became one of its propagandists. It might have been his faithfulness to the Restoration the reason why he was chosen, and authorised, to edit the Gazeta. It is not known, however, whether he continued to collaborate in this periodical newspaper after August 1642 (the date of the suspension).

 

2.2. João Franco Barreto

In July 1642 João Franco Barreto[2] (1600-167_?) got permission to translate and publish the reports from France. This administrative act is previous to the second period of the Gazeta, when it adopts its new name Gazeta de Novas de Fora do Reino (Gazette of News from Outside the Kingdom). We may infer that, then, the news contents of June and July 1642 did not please the power settled due to ‘excessive truthfulness’, which may have led to a replacement of Galhegos by Barreto. It was therefore supposedly Barreto who edited the Gazeta from the first issue of October 1642, on his own or with the help of others.

At the age of 24, João Franco Barreto joined the expedition to the Baía (Brazil) to rescue the city from the Dutch. He then wrote up a handwritten account of that military action, similar to a news report. When he returned to Portugal, he enrolled in Coimbra University, where he studied Canonical Law and, when he completed his degree, he remained there as a teacher. After his wife died, like Manuel de Galhegos, he became a catholic priest. Also like Galhegos, he joined the cause of the Restoration and, for that reason, he was chosen to provide secretarial assistance in the diplomatic mission of the ambassador D. Francisco de Melo in France, in 1641, of which he left an historical account. He may have managed to cause a good impression, which is possibly the reason why, due to Royal discontent with the Gazeta, he got permission to translate French gazettes, as it was mentioned before. The Gazeta was reconverted and hence became a Francophile newspaper with international news (Portugal was seeking an alliance with France to oppose Castile/Spain more effectively).

 

2.3 Friar Francisco Brandão

Friar Francisco Brandão (1601-1680) became a Cistercian monk in 1618 and did his doctorate degree in Theology, in Coimbra, where he worked as a teacher. He had several religious positions, including Head of the Order of Cistercians in Portugal. He joined the cause of the Restoration, and was appointed the Kingdom’s new main chronicle writer. He wrote the speech of acclamation of João IV[3] and the report on the attempted murder of the king by Castile (Spain). As an historian, as a successor of his uncle, Friar António Barreto, he is the author of the fifth and sixth part of the Portuguese largest historical work – Monarquia Lusitana (Lusitanian Monarchy) – dedicated to the life and deeds of King Dinis. It was most probably his uncle who fostered his nationalism, celebrated all over the Monarquia Lusitana. It is not known, however, when exactly he took up the writing of the Gazeta, and whether he did it, on his own or with the help of others. It is possible that he was the writer of the paper from July 1645 issue.

 

3. Journalistic production in the first half of the seventeenth century

In this part of this study, we will attempt to infer, from the analysis of the Gazeta, the two stages of news information production, used by those who introduced the periodical newspapers: (1) information gathering and (2) techniques of news reporting.

First, we should mention that Portuguese seventeenth-century journalism was similar in style to contemporary journalism, in that the news items in the Gazeta were normally clear, concise, though not always precise:[4]

 

A Armada Real de Castela anda dividida em duas esquadras, uma no cabo de São Vicente e outra na barra de Cádis, esperando a frota. [Gazeta, November 1641] (The Spanish Royal Navy is divided into two squads, one in Saint Vincent Cape and another one along the coast of Cadis, waiting for the fleet.)

 

Morreu o conde de Odemira. [Gazeta, December1641] (The Earl of Odemira has died.)

 

The examples provided above allow us to see that in short news, in both publications, the notion of ‘lead’ was emerging. Besides, another relevant aspect to be considered concerns the answers these news texts try to give their readers. Answering the traditional news questions – Who?, What?, When?, Where?, How? and Why? – is not a contemporary invention, but a classical rhetorical invention, already mentioned in the works of the roman rhetoric master Quintiliano and in Peucer’s doctoral thesis – the first world PhD on Journalism and Communication – and well recovered by journalists. Thus, aware of principles imposed by classical rhetoric, the writers of the Gazeta also sought to explain the circumstances in their news: the subject (who?), object (what), place (where?), time (when?), and sometimes also manner (How?) and cause (why?):[5]

 

Deu El-Rei Nosso Senhor uma Comenda ao Doutor Pedro de Castro de Melo pelos serviços de seu filho o capitão Jerónimo de Castro e Melo que morreu pelejando valorosamente na entrada de Valverde. (Our King has granted a Commendation to Doctor Pedro de Castro de Melo for the services offered by his son, captain Jerónimo Castro e Melo [who? What?] who died fighting bravely in Valverde [why]). [Gazeta, March 1642]

 

De Entre-Douro e Minho, no primeiro sábado deste mês, veio uma carta em que se avisa que um capitão de infantaria francês, tenente-coronel, enfadado da suspensão das armas e do grande ódio em que os soldados estavam na cidade de Braga, por causa do Inverno, deliberou sair em campanha e entrar pelas terras dos inimigos (…). (From Between Douro and Minho [where?], in the first Saturday of this month [when?], came a letter where we can read that a captain of the French Infantry, lieutenant-coronel [who?], tired of suspension of warfare and the huge hatred felt by soldiers in the city of Braga, because of winter [why?], decided to go to battle into lands of enemies (...). [what?]) [Gazeta, March 1642]

 

 

Besides the news that we refer to as news with ‘impact lead’ today, in other more developed pieces in the Gazeta we find an identical structure, which expands its text from more relevant information[6]:

 

De Marselha, a 9 de Março de 1643

As grandes chuvas que em Itália houve desde o princípio de Novembro até ao fim de Dezembro passado engrossaram de maneira os rios da Lombardia e particularmente o Pó, que saindo do leito inundou a maior parte das cidades, vilas e terras vizinhas. Neste dilúvio afogaram-se tantas pessoas, ruíram tantas casas e perderam-se outros bens, que se não dera crédito e autoridade [lead]. (...)

(From Marseille, 9 March 1643

The heavy rain in Italy from the beginning of November to the end of December have greatly filled the rivers of Lomabardia, particularly River Po, which has burst its banks and flooded most close cities, towns and villages. In this diluvium many people were drawn, many houses were destroyed and other unknown possessions were lost [lead]. (...) [Gazeta, April 1643])

 

Several news present an analytical and explanatory structure[7]:

 

Os diferendos entre El-Rei da Grã-Bretanha com o Parlamento estão cada dia em pior condição, porque cada qual pretende sustentar sua razão e assim há grandes aparências de que antes de muitos dias cheguem a batalha. (Differences between the King of Great Britain and the Parliament are getting worse, since each one wishes to maintain their position and there are hence stronger clues that they will soon get into a battle). [Gazeta, October 1642]

 

Sources are barely mentioned. However, table 2 reveals that the writers of the Gazeta showed some concerns akin to contemporary journalism, which indicates that journalistic values and guidelines of this profession have historical roots that go back at least to the seventeenth century. More precisely, they go back to classical times, when Greeks, such as Thucydides, Xenophon, and even Herodotus, began to write history compelled by both an intention of truthfulness and factuality.

Table 2

Journalistic Issues – Gazeta[8]

 

Journalistic issues

Excerto textual ilustrativo Illustrative extract

Reference  and criticism to sources

O que se disse de França (...) foi informação de pessoa mal intencionada e pouco afecta às coisas deste e daquele Reino.

(The news that came from France (…) was given by a misinformed person and with little knowledge of that kingdom’s affairs.) (July 1643)

Reference  and criticism to sources

As mais destas novas são colhidas de cartas e pessoas dignas de crédito, que vieram de várias partes. E o que se diz do bispo de Lamego se sabe por via da nau de Inglaterra que veio no mês passado. E de Itália, havia já aqui carta (...).

(This news came from credible letters and people, from several parts of the world. What is said about the Bishop of Lamego, came via a ship from England last month. And from Italy, we had a letter that said (...).) (December 1641)

Reference to sources

No princípio deste mês escreveu-se da Província do Alentejo que no dia de São João vieram os inimigos a Olivença (...).

(At the beginning of the month we got a letter from the provinces of Alentejo stating that on Saint John’s day enemies came to Olivença (…).) (July 1642)

Reference to sources

novas que tivemos da Índia Oriental, por um correio...

(news we got from Eastern India, by a courier... (March 1642)

Reference to sources

Por carta de Münster se soube (…). (Novembro de 1646)

By letter from Münster we learnt (…) (November 1646)

Reference to sources

Pessoa digna de crédito que veio de Madrid afirma (…).

(A trustworthy  person who came from Madrid says (…).) (December 1641)

Reference to sources

Chegaram aqui dois navios holandeses, os quais dão as novas que se seguem...

(Two Dutch ships have arrived with the following novelties...) (September and October 1646)

Reference to sources and assigning a date to information

Há carta nesta Corte da Ilha de São Cristóvão, situada nas Índias de Castela, feita nos últimos de Novembro, em como a maior parte das Índias tinham negado a obediência ao Castelhano, e que só um vice-rei estava por eles, havendo (...) grandes revoluções.

(There is a letter in this Court of Saint Christopher Island, situated in the Castilian Indies, written in last days of November, which tells us that most Indies has denied obedience to Castile, and that only the vice-king supported them, and therefore there were (…) a lot of revolutions). (March and April 1644)

Last minute news

No mesmo ponto em que se acabou de imprimir este papel, veio da ilha Terceira Jorge de Mesquita e trouxe aviso de que a fortaleza se havia rendido e estava já por El-Rei Nosso Senhor. Por ser nova de grande alegria para este Reino, se pôs nesta Gazeta, não obstante pertencer à do mês de Abril.

(In the moment when were about to finish this paper, Jorge de Mesquita came from Terceira Island with a message saying that the fortress had surrendered and was under the domain of Our king. As this was a huge joy for this kingdom, we decided to include it in this month’s gazette, even though the news belonged to the gazette of the month of April.) (March 1642)

Reference to sources, to the process of obtaining information and to news dating

A nova da Ilha Terceira, de que se fala (...) na gazeta do mês de Março, veio aos oito do mês de Abril no navio Sol Dourado.

(The news from Terceira Island that we wrote about (…) in the gazette of March, has come on the eighth of April in the Sol Dourado ship). (April 1942)

Reference to sources, to the process of obtaining information

Chegou aqui um frade dominicano que chamam frei João Correia, filho de Lisboa, que vem de Madrid. Não dá novas frescas por haver muito que partiu daquela corte (...). (Março e Abril de 1644)

(A Dominican Friar, to whom they call Friar João Correia, son of Lisbon, arrived from Madrid. He doesn’t bring fresh news because he has long left that Court (…).) (March and April 1644)

Reference to sources, to the process of obtaining information and to news dating

De Amesterdão, 12 de Agosto de 1647. Chegaram há pouco dez navios das Índias Orientais (...). Dão por novas que na ilha de Ceilão os moradores mataram alguns 450 holandeses e fizeram mais de 200 prisioneiros, após o que lhes ganharam um pequeno forte. (Setembro de 1647)

(From Amsterdam, 12 August 1647. Ten ships form East Indies have just arrived (...). The news they bring are that in Ceylon inhabitants killed about 450 Dutchmen and took more than 200 prisoners and conquered a small fortress). (September 1647)

Reference to the news itineraries

Soube-se cá, por via de Cádis, Sevilha e Segóvia, como os franceses tinham tomado Lérida (…). (Julho e Agosto de 1646)

(We heard from Cadiz, Seville and Segovia how the Frenchmen took over Lerida (…). (July and August 1646)

News dating

Aos oito do corrente houve uma grande altercação popular na cidade de Cosenza, na Calábria...

(On the eighth of the current month, there was a huge popular riot in the city of Cosenza, in Calabria…)

Intentions of truthfulness and correction of inaccurate news (though this may be the result of an attempt to correct the course of events due to an ‘excessive truthfulness’ on the internal atmosphere of an allied country

O que na Gazeta do mês passado se disse de França que com as presentes guerras se passavam muitas necessidades é falso e parece que foi informação de pessoa mal intencionada e pouco afecta às coisas deste e daquele Reino.

(The news in last month’s Gazeta that people in France were going through huge needs as a result of war is false and it seems that information came from an ill-intentioned person, who does not know much about the affairs of that kingdom.) (July 1643)

Intention of truthfulness and correction or completion of inaccurate information

 

No que se diz na Gazeta de Dezembro acerca de São Tomé se advirta que o governador Manuel Quaresma era já morto.

(From what is said in the December Gazeta about São Tomé, we should inform that Governor Manuel Quaresma was already dead.) (February 1642)

Direct quotations

Neste ponto olhou o cura para os nossos, que estavam perto, e defronte dele, e começou a dizer em altos gritos: “Senhores portugueses, aqui está um castelhano vivo entre estes mortos, acudam vossas mercês e levem-no, que eu não trago comissão para retirar vivos e não quero enganar a ninguém, que sou cristão e temo a Deus”. (Janeiro de 1642)

(At this point, the priest looked at our people, who were close to him, and shouted: ‘Dear Portuguese, here is a live Castilian, among these dead people. Come and take him, as I’m not commissioned to take living people and do not want to deceive anyone, as I’m a Christian and fearful of God’’). (January 1642)

Vivacity and sensationalism

 

Aos oito do corrente houve uma grande altercação popular na cidade de Cosenza, na Calábria, durante a qual mataram um homem muito principal, cujo corpo foi arrastado pelas ruas da cidade. E prenderam alguns quarenta mais, que favoreciam os espanhóis, que levaram ao vice-rei de Nápoles. Nas cidades de Salerno e de Bari não têm sido menores os tumultos, seguindo o exemplo das demais. Na primeira, queimaram-se mais de 25 casas; na segunda, os moradores elegeram um líder, que se fez grandemente temer pelas muitas execuções que faz (...) e a maior parte dos vassalos de diversos lugares deste Reino tem montado cercos aos seus senhores, por estes quererem suportar o governo dos espanhóis.

(On the eighth of this month there was a great riot in the city of Cosenza, in Calabria, during which a very important man was killed, and whose body was pulled through the streets. Forty or more were arrested, the ones who favoured the Spanish, who took the vice-king to Naples. In the cities of Salerno and Bari, the riots are equally big, following the examples of the others. In the former 25 houses were burned down, whereas in the latter, inhabitants elected a leader who is feared for the executions he carries out and most vassals of these places have set up sieges to their landlords, since they want to support the Spanish). (September 1647)

 

In fact, in table 2, it is possible to identify:

 

1) A concern with making the information credible by referring to sources, or even by criticising those same sources;

 

2) An intention of truthfulness, visible in the correction of inaccurate information,

 

3) Quotation, a strategy of protection used in journalism and which, at the same time, validates information and makes it more vivid;

 

4) The inclusion of last minute news;

 

            5) A concern with providing dates and locating news.

 

Final remarks

In this work, we proposed to answer the following questions: Who were the Portuguese "journalists" who, in the first half of the 17th century, began journalistic practice in Portugal? What did they write about? Who were their sources? What kind of routines did they have? What kind of constraints did they face?

We may answer by pointing out that all pioneers of journalism in Portugal – the first Portuguese gazetteers – were lettered clergymen, who engaged in news writing to obtain eventual profit (in the case of Manuel de Galhegos and João Franco Barreto) or, possibly, to take part in the effort to recognise and legitimate the Dynasty of Braganza and the Restoration of Independence (in the case of Friar Francisco Brandão). Thus, writing periodicals would be rather an occupation they did in addition to their clerical and political duties than a real profession. Nonetheless, like today’s professional journalists, seventeenth-century journalists were committed to truthfulness and faithfulness to facts, and covered topics similar to the ones dealt with by modern journalism. We may claim that then, like today, journalism is, in its essence, a set of selected reports on the world’s affairs. It is a ‘slice of world’ in the form of news reports. Yesterday’s news reports are, as far as themes are concerned, the news of today, since the criteria for what is regarded as news are the same. And we can presume that they are the same because they are grounded on the cultural background, which, in turn, reflects human responses to Man’s timeless concerns and need for survival (hence the news that signal danger), as well as the need for social structuring, which derives from a genetic gregarious impulse, which is common to all human beings (hence the news pointing out, stigmatising and condemning divergence and deviation).

The data included in this study also show that seventeenth-century news reports resulted either from observation and direct narration of events, or still from the convocation of numerous sources. Interviews to travellers and sailors, gathering of witnesses’ accounts, setting up correspondent networks that could inform the writer on what was going on in distant places, access to well-positioned sources, translation of news in foreign gazettes, were among the resources of seventeenth-century periodical writers so as to fill in their papers with interesting and important information. In terms of structure, the journalistic mode of news gathering and dissemination is not so different from the contemporary model, though resources were more limited. For one thing, Portuguese papers would not probably have more than one or two writers working simultaneously. Information processing routines, that is, of transforming facts into news, were not significantly different from today’s either. Seventeenth-century journalists, like today’s, sought to pass on a panoply of facts, important or relevant information to readers, in a clear, concise and incisive way (the idea of lead, namely impact lead, already existed), even though not always in a very accurate way (propagandistic exaggeration in the Gazeta concerning the number of Castilian casualties during the Restoration wars is conspicuous). Likewise, seventeenth-century Portuguese journalists, probably as a result of their formal upbringing, mastered good news-telling classical rhetoric, later imported by journalism.

Finally, it is possible to observe that to do a legal periodical in Portugal during the seventeenth century it was necessary to have the trust of the regime and print the periodical in typographies that were faithful to Royal power, though this was not enough. News articles were object of both civilian and clerical scrutiny and censorship. In other words, no matter how much political power trusted or authorised periodical writers, they were still profoundly suspicious of journalistic activity. Therefore, censorship and, due to possible reprisals, self-censorship were important control devices of journalistic activity. The main constraints to this activity were, therefore, of a legal and political nature.

 

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TENGARRINHA, J. (2006).  Imprensa e opinião pública em Portugal. Coimbra: Minerva.

TENGARRINHA, J. (1989). História da imprensa periódica portuguesa. 2nd edition. Lisboa: Caminho.



[1] Our translation.

[2] “Eu El-Rei faço saber aos que este alvará virem que, havendo respeito a me enviar dizer por sua petição João Franco Barreto que a esta Corte vinham muitas relações em língua francesa, que se traduziam por pessoas que não tinham notícia dela nem daquele reino, e ficavam de menor crédito com sua má interpretação, e porque aquele suplicante tinha bastante conhecimento duma e doutra coisa, por haver passado naquelas partes em companhia dos meus embaixadores no ano próximo passado, cuja viagem escreveu e imprimiu, me pedia lhe mandasse passar licença para que ele somente pudesse traduzir e imprimir as relações de França e suas gazetas. E visto seu requerimento, e as coisas acima referidas, tive por bem conceder-lhe a dita licença, como a pede, com a declaração que irão primeiro à Mesa do Desembargo do Paço traduzidas as ditas relações e gazetas antes que se imprimam, etc. Lisboa, 29 de Julho de 1642”.

‘I, the King, hereby inform all of those who see this licence that, considering what João Franco Barreto said in this petition – that many news accounts came in French, and were translated by people who knew nothing about that language nor that culture, and were therefore not trustworthy – and considering that the requester had good knowledge of both, as he had spent sometime in those lands with the ambassadors last year, having reported his trip, he asked me to be granted permission to only translate and print the accounts of France and its gazettes. Taking his request and the above aspects into account, I decided to grant him the mentioned licence, as he asks, with the declaration that those translated reports will be submitted first to the Licences Palace Commission before they are printed, etc. Lisbon, 29 July 1642’. (Our translation.)

[3] Discurso Gratulatório Sobre o Dia da Feliz Aclamação da Majestade de El-Rei D. João IV Nosso Senhor; Relação do Assassínio Intentado por Castela Contra a Majestade de El-Rei D. João o IV, Impedido Miraculosamente. (The Acclamation Discourse on the Jolly Day of King John IV; Report on the Attempted Murder of the King by Castil, Prevented by Miracle). (Our translation.)

[4] Our translation.

[5] Our translation in both quotations.

[6] Our translation.

[7] Our translation.

[8] Our translation (into modern English.).

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Jornais UFP,
31 de out de 2010 02:38