During much of the military regime in Brazil (1964-1985), an elaborate but illegal system of restrictions prevented the press from covering important news or criticizing the government. In this intriguing new book, Anne-Marie Smith investigates why the press acquiesced to this system, and why this state-administered system of restrictions was known as “self-censorship.”
Smith argues that it was routine, rather than fear, that kept the lid on Brazil's press. The banality of state censorship-a mundane, encompassing set of automatically repeated procedures that functioned much like any other state bureaucracy-seemed impossible to circumvent. While the press did not consider the censorship legitimate, they were never able to develop the resources to overcome censorship's burdensome routines.
A Forced Agreement is an excellent analysis of press-state relations. She has done the necessary research to make this a useful foundation for years to come. Her study of the alternative press is the first I have ever seen on the topic and is simply outstanding.
In this well-crafted study, Anne-Marie Smith examines why Brazilian press acquiesced to censorship during military rule in the 1960s and 1970s. She convincingly argues that the press's virtually complete compliance with censorship was not the result of fear, nor an indication of its support for the regime. Rather, the powerlessness of the press was the result of an 'anonymous, routinized, all-encompassing system-and not the raw coercive power of the regime.' . . . Smith has done a fine reporting job of her own in this slim volume. . . . Her interviews with journalists and editors are invaluable sources for recovering the history of the period.