How revolutionary can journalism be? The PREC period (1974-75) in Portugal and the role of investigative reporting in democracy building

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


This paper analyzes the role of reportage and investigative reporting in the Portuguese television public channel (RTP) in the aftermath of the revolutionary coup of April 1974. The television was one of the main targets of the rebels, suffered an immediate seize and remained under military administration from 1974 until 1977. We will focus our programming analysis in the period ranging from April 1974 to November 1975, following a historic delimitation among Portuguese scholars that, due to the intense radicalization of political and civil struggle, consensually refer to that period as PREC (Ongoing Revolutionary Process). Television management and programming were one of the key tasks to be performed in order to achieve the revolution political and social goals. The history of RTP shows how the military delegates, the politicians, the journalists and the public formed an unpredictable community to re-invent a new television “for the people”. After 40 years of dictatorship and severe governmental control of television through internal censorship, there was no previous experience of how television could support democracy in Portugal. At the same time, all the media, and television, in particular, was being the object of increasing power dispute and content manipulation among the political actors. Within this context, we will focus on the journalistic response regarding RTP future role in Portuguese society. The television image and content changed immediately after the coup. Informal talks and debates replaced former solemn transmission of public events. Political criticism took the place of consent and laudatory governmental pieces. A department titled “Political and Social Programmes” was created to discover, through investigative reporting, the “real country” and the “real people”. As the democratic process demanded an inexistent democratic culture, television provided knowledge about basic democratic procedures in the new republic: how to form a popular assembly, how to make a proposal, how to vote. Although there are several historical grounding works about the media and revolution (Cádima:1996; Gomes, Castanheira:2006; Mesquita, Rebelo: 1994; Rezola: 2007; Soares dos Reis:2009), our research is innovative and will dig into television archives, seeking to categorize and interpret the audiovisual materials according to several categories: thematic, journalistic genres, protagonists, visual narratives, sources of information. The goal is to identify and characterize the Portuguese “journalistic thinking” about television informative content and, in a broader sense, to establish links with other international research concerning the role of the media in revolutionary and transitional historical momentums.
Period31 Oct 2018 → …
Event titleECREA 2018
Event typeConference
LocationLugano, SwitzerlandShow on map


  • Jornalismo de investigação
  • Reportagem
  • 25 de Abril
  • História dos media