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Sandra Villeras.  RTP information on the war track

Sandra Villeras. RTP information on the war track

By Vitor Renho and Daniela Soares Ferreira

The outcome of the story was announced in 2019 when journalist Sandra Villegeras and her team at 9 o’clock Sexta, of RTP, accused the then-information department of interrupting the investigation. For those less knowledgeable, it should be said that the management team led by Maria Flor Pedroso and Candida Pinto would have resigned, after the former went to Parliament to discuss the issue. Candida Pinto, that, was on vacation and never appeared in the Assembly of the Republic.

In between, Sandra Villegeras found herself in the midst of many disagreements with members of the government, and the most visible face of this “war” was Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Energy Joao Galampa, who arrived at the program in a turbulent manner. The program coordinator – the third most watched on the public channel – in addition to complaints of censorship, publicly complained about the lack of means to make a resolute program and did so in Parliament, to the President of the Republic, in 2019, when he was awarded the Best Media Program of the Portuguese Society of Authors.

Continuing in the middle of the story, which is due Friday at 9, it can be said that at the time, Aaron de Carvalho, the legendary PS personality who was part of the media regulator, ERC, and is currently, oddly enough, an independent public council member. “A program of this kind should not exist in a public television service,” Aaron de Carvalho told i – on December 19, 2019, in the middle of Friday at 9 War with the Director of Information. To further his idea, Aarons added, “There has to be investigative journalism, but publishing the contents of this type of journalism should have its only criterion being to complete the work, with contradictory work, with the information properly closed. This commitment to the need for some sort of reprimand every week to denounce It leads to the skipping of very necessary steps in the press.” The socialist media guru referred to the fact that Sandra Villegeras’ program had been interrupted during the pre-election campaign, another of the controversies in which the journalist was involved.

With the new direction of information from the public channel, things were calmer, but the means demanded by the journalist never arrived – more senior journalists and the end of the frailty of some team members. So that there was no doubt about the narrative, those responsible for the RTP refused to respond to questions raised by Nascer do SOL.

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Following current accounts, and after appropriate framing, we come to the present day. In the case of two weeks ago.

Sandra Villeras announced her intention to resign from the company, which is tired of fighting windmills, according to those close to her, and explained to the information department that it has flowery content until December 17 and that it has an obligation to defend it. Sources revealed some members of the government. Leading directors Antonio José Teixeira and Carlos Daniel – himself embroiled in a wild story on his arrival at the channel directors, where he was deputy director, when he was nominated for the post of director, but was obstructed by the forces of the girl’s party, as reported at the time – decided, a week later , published a statement about the termination of the contract with Sandra Felgueiras as of yesterday, November 26.

However, the information department of the RTP responded to the news that began to be circulated by the media – here it remains to be seen who published the news. “Since the public announcement of her departure from RTP and the formalization of her dissolution from the company, journalist Sandra Villegeras will not be coordinating and presenting the program on Friday at 9 this weekend.” Then, finally, the official confirmation of the journalist who has been working with RTP since 2000 arrived.

The Directorate of Information added that “Free and independent investigative journalism has been a part of RTP’s history for decades and will continue to do so. Scrutiny of powers and what may be against the law and the public interest remains a priority for RTP information, which operates in a renewed format,” they say, in a note They thank “the work and dedication that journalist Sandra Felgueiras revealed throughout her more than two-decade journey at RTP.”

Friday in 9 team interacts

With all this situation in place, the team of journalists from Friday 9 o’clock, without their coordinator, wrote a letter they sent to the newsroom at RTP which Nascer do SOL had access to, showing their “deep dissatisfaction” with the station’s public decision in the aftermath of the program’s suspension.

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The report stated that the discontent was linked to the fact that “not a single word was directed at them on the matter.”
“It is with great humiliation that we see all of this happen, after months of silence about the lack of resources for the programme; and when we have several ongoing investigations relevant and known to manage information that only fit the scope of an investigation programme,” in the note where the journalists added that it was “completely incomprehensible.” “That the Directorate of Information declare that it is operating in a new format starting Friday at 9 o’clock – without ever hearing us – and when it knows that the program is the only search space, so designated and with a weekly frequency, for RTP.”

Thus, journalists – Anna Raquel Letao, Claudia Viana, Helena Cruz Lopez, Ines Subtel and Luis Figario – criticize the “lack of communication” with the Friday 9 o’clock team, which is added to the “public announcement made in our absence, that this will be the last program with Sandra Felgueiras” which translates to “a public humiliation of the team.”

In the long note, the five journalists complain about a lack of resources and ensure they are never heard, speak of the “clear abandonment and profound alienation” of the team’s work by RTP’s information department, and the journalists say “neither the apparent lack of resources we were exposed to is today nor yesterday ».
However, in the minutes of the RTP editorial board meeting, to which Nascer do SOL was able to access, it was stated that the Information Department “questioned whether there was room for negotiation or discussion on keeping the journalist at RTP and denied the same possibility, giving the decision as it was made” .

Contrary to what investigative program journalists say, RTP’s Media Directorate says it “has not received any request from the Friday 9 o’clock team for a meeting,” adding that on October 13 “there was, for the first and only time, a proposal by the coordinator for other program elements to participate” “The Department of Information has understood that this meeting should only be with the Coordinator and that a broader conversation can take place at a later time,” the statement read.

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Nascer do SOL knows that the team, including its coordinator, requested more resources for the program several times Friday at 9, but received no positive response. This was also the response given by Carlos Daniel and Antonio Jose Teixeira in October, the last time an appeal was filed. However, in the House statement, it is clear that the Directorate of Information claims the team had the same five journalists when it started.

Nascer do SOL knows that RTP’s information department has always been aware of the lack of resources in the search program but has never done anything to change it. It was two weeks ago when Sandra Villeras announced her departure, having submitted her formal resignation to the board of directors last week.
What will happen to the Sandra Felgueiras team is unknown, but our newspaper knows that the Information Service calls each journalist on the team individually.

It should be noted that shortly after Nascer do SOL released the message from the Sandra Felgueiras team, João Paulo Batalha, former Head of Transparency and Integrity, shared the news on Twitter where he commented: “It’s official. If RTP isn’t dead, it’s dead.” In opinion Joao Paulo Batalha, the public station’s media department “sees the victory of a boycott of investigative journalism for several years”, resulting in the death of one of its most-watched programmes. There is no doubt: «RTP refuses to announce a new format. If he has an interest in investigative journalism, he has many years to invest in them,” he says, accusing: “This is what happens when you put the owners of the profession, instead of journalists, in charge of the newsrooms. With salaries paid by the financier ».

In the corridors of the Public Channel, it is said that the new investigation program could be taken over by Candida Pinto, a former deputy director who was fired, but never left RTP. Interestingly, the journalist who “hated” Sandra Vilgeras, according to some journalists at home. As for the future of the former coordinator on Friday at 9 am, it will pass through Covina. On Saturday and on CMTV.