Politics and the Judiciary in Contemporary Brazil: A Portrait of the Supreme Federal Court Based on its Representation in Folha de São Paulo Newspaper

Fabiana Luci de Oliveira About the author

ABSTRACT

The aim of this article is to discuss the visibility of Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court (STF) based on its representation in the mass media. To do so, we describe how Folha de São Paulo (FSP) newspaper depicted the court’s activities in the period from 1999 to 2014, focusing on the predominant type of coverage (whether political or legal), the subjects most frequently framed in terms of the institution, and the factors determining the representation. We discuss the extent to which the coverage traces the court’s activities, examining which rulings were deemed newsworthy by analyzing the contents of 6,271 news items, using the data to problematize the shaping of the public image of the court and the way in which the media come to position the institution in the Brazilian political system. We conclude that the FSP shaped a predominantly political image of the STF, with this representation exacerbating the institution’s personalization, the individual profiles of its ministers, and promoting an excessive emphasis on cases of anti-corruption judicialization.

Brazilian Supreme Federal Court; media; political framework; legal framework; anti-corruption judicialization

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