Correio da Manhã is the most read newspaper in Portugal. His founder… a journalist with a Law degree from Universidade de Lisboa
Vítor Direito was born in Vimioso on the 23rd of November, 1931.
His journalistic career started in radio, in Oporto, in sports Journalism.
In 1951, he entered the newsroom of Diário de Lisboa, where he worked in great names like Assis Pacheco, Bessa Múrias, Joaquim Letria, José Carlos Vasconcelos and Mário Zambujal.
Journalism in Estado Novo
On the 27th of April, 1966, it was celebrated the 38th anniversary of the nomination of António Oliveira de Salazar to the government, and the telex sent in a non-stopping way bland information to the journalists.
Vítor Direito sees something that caught his eye in that day’s edition of Diário do Governo, III série, and published a peculiar news in Diário de Lisboa.
In the morning of the 28th, PIDE’s brigade presented in Diário de Lisboa and served Vítor Direito, editor-in-chief, for an interrogatory at the headquarters. The journalist wasn’t unknown around there, having been interrogated for several times in other occasions.
Meanwhile, in Oporto, the owners of the company Luís de Barros, Alfredo de Oliveira Barros and Joaquim Castro Feijó were served by PIDE, in the most surreal day of their lives. They had accepted Miguel Thenaisie Salazar Coelho as the fourth partner, and he, on military duty, was known as Miguel Coelho, thus nobody would associate him to the firm if the middle name was used. Thus was born the company Oliveiras, Salazar & Cia, Lda.
The process ended up being closed, after 15 pages of sizzling and useless inquiry activity, with the conclusion that «it wasn’t found that there was harmful intention in the news’ publishing».
As regard Vítor Direito, he found out that he could diminished «the great figure» of the Council’s President with a thirteen-line text, published on page 10 of Diário de Lisboa.
Later, Vítor Direito embarks in a new project, once again with Raul Rego. The newspaper A República is born in 9172, becoming the bastion of the freedom traditions against Estado Novo’s dictatorship.
Here would also be the place where the journalist would live the troubled and hard times of PREC.
«Vítor Direito, very rigorous and independent, suffered a lot in that difficult phase, because he was much attacked and criticized for being right-winged», recalls Aarons de Carvalho, that at the time started as journalist.
Later, with the extinction of A República, he continued to accompany Raul Rego, this time in the creation of A Luta.
A new project is born
It was the year of 1979.
Saddam Hussein reached the power in Iraq, and Margaret Tatcher won the elections in England. John Paul II visited Fátima and the Popular Republic of China recognized Macau was Chinese territory under Portuguese administration.
The country still felt the effects of the nationalization of media, and Vítor Direito felt the need for a Journalism independent from the political power, that would approach the troubles of the common citizen.
Correio da Manhã emerged from the hands of Vítor Direito and Agostinho de Azevedo.
The project’s initial idea was very simple. A popular newspaper, without political combat, with little opinion and more news information.
Manuel Silva Reis, a journalist in the newsroom of the then new newspaper, states:
“It wasn’t by chance that Vítor Direito founded Correio da Manhã on March 19th, the date when it is celebrated Father’s Day. In that day, and for the 18 following years where I wrote for that newspaper, the director of CM gathered the “family” in the day traditionally celebrated… in family.”
Quickly, Vítor Direito’s prose as bilhetista, daily published in “Bilhete Postal”, becomes Correio da Manhã’s trademark.
Correio da Manhãgrew rapidly, becoming the most read and sold newspaper in the country.
Vítor Direito would be in the lead of the daily until 1991. From there it would be reserved to him the title of President General Director.
The mark in Journalism
In 2000, Vítor Direito’s success was recognized, when the president of the Republic Jorge Sampaio gave him the Commander of Ordem do Infante D. Henrique.
In April of 2004, Vítor Direito was invited by the former director of Diário de Lisboa, António Ruella Ramos, to conceive a special edition of Diário de Notícias.
To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Carnations Revolution, the supplement DNA would make an edition submitted to the censorship’s review.
The idea was to graphically create a process of cutting the texts that the censorship, if it still existed, would eliminate.
That month’s supplement was published with «cuts» by the blue pencil, done by the journalists’ duo that suffered the most with censorship.
Vítor Direito passed on April 1st of 2009, at the age of 78.
Behind him he would leave an unshakable legacy, to which we still witness today. CM, as it is commonly called, would delineate its own path with its simple and concise language, becoming a true popular brand in Portugal.