A story is written with the best information available at the time. Quite often that information is quickly superseded. Something new happens, or something new is said, or more (or different) information is revealed. The journalist can end up looking lax at best and ridiculous at worst.
I say this after reading two stories in O Globo over the last two days. In one, here in Portuguese, Petrobras is accused of covering up the fact pipes on its P-33 platform are horribly corroded. The other reports of a fire on the P-35 platform caused by a leak.
(Petrobras said today it was stopping work on P-35 in October to perform maintenance. The maintenance work was supposed to have happened last month but was postponed.)
Writing about Petrobras is one of the most frustrating tasks I do as a correspondent. The company gives nothing away, even when it is in its best interests. It’s a stupid and self-defeating policy.
The best example came shortly after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico when I called Petrobras to get an update on their safety procedures. They refused to talk.
Nine years ago I wrote a piece for Latin Trade about how three oil disasters had forced the company into reviewing and overhauling its safety procedures. The company vowed to invest $1 billion on training and equipment to prevent more such disasters. And it seemed to work; Petrobras has a safety record comparable with an of its rivals.
I wanted to write about those advances but Petrobras refused to discuss the issue. The flaks blew me off, refusing to give me any information and not returning several phone calls. They were arrogant and offhand, as usual.
I ended up publishing this piece for the Christian Science Monitor, which was written by my colleague Sara Miller Llana. All the information in it was correct. But I knew there was more. O Globo today confirmed those suspicions.