If the World Cup started tomorrow, many wouldn’t be ready to report it

I don’t find stereotypes a real problem. They allow us to communicate at some level so we can actually learn a few things if we are really interested. I am not the kind of journalist who believes colleagues make mistakes because they have an agenda or don’t care about what they write. But in the last few weeks, especially in the British media, there has been abundant material to show how little international hacks know about the hosts of the next World Cup.

Brazil surely isn’t for beginners, and using other Latin American patterns to see it doesn’t help at all. Neither is it fair to portray it as some kind of banana republic. It is the world’s 7th biggest economy, on the way to overcome the UK and France, and initiatives crafted there are used globally. But a large part of international media seems to be stuck in those days they could send a correspondent from South Africa to cover big stories in Latin America.

Yes, they used to do that.

The British case is the most absurd one, because they can have good correspondents there and most media outlets here chose to give Brazil stories to in-house writers who clueless about the country. These just do what their editors say. And all they hear from their bosses is stereotypes. One of these writers heard this from his editor at a big British newspaper: “We don’t care about anything else, just focus on the World Cup and on the violence.” The story was printed after a day without any protests, even peaceful ones.

Another frequent mistake is to link anything Brazil to the World Cupas if bizarre murders or a tragic fire couldn’t have happened at any other time in cities which aren’t even close to those that will host the competition in June next year. It reminded me of one of my lecturers at City University, who said HITS many times stands for “how idiots track success.” I have no doubt that the idea of linking anything to the World Cup has more to do with selling an exotic image than being critical. They have the freedom to do it if they want to, but I have my freedom to say that is just bad reporting.

Colbert at least is a humorist. But I bet some of those assumptions are in the minds of some who wrote about Brazil in the last few weeks

(Many American papers with a long presence in Brazil didn’t make these all assumptions. Wonder why?)

Of course Brazil has issues to solve, violence being the main one. I have written extensively about that in the last few weeks. But the European perspective seems to be quite out of touch with this brave new world. Many journalists in Europe still mix peaceful protests with crime, despite the number of rioters being small. There were violent people in many protests, but that clearly wasn’t the majority — unlike in the UK riots in 2011. Or in any G8 summit.

The lack of understanding many times has no reflection in reality. I find it very appalling when people here talk about freedom of speech as if I were coming from China or Russia. The question I have heard the most during the protests was “It is a big problem, isn’t it?” And that includes journalists. My answer has always been: “Only if you think that democratic demonstrations are a problem.” It doesn’t look very different when I see some former Venezuela correspondents trying to look at Brazil as if our mindset were the same. They probably don’t even know most Brazilians don’t think of themselves as Latin Americans.

The underlying issue is that most people here think there is no democracy outside North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australia. I heard that myself from a British politics reporter at college. It is not a guess.

This is just pathetic

Not surprisingly it is the same people who see the world as if there weren’t an economy crisis out there. They think everyone in emerging countries is dying to come to Europe, when the truth is quite the opposite. There is people actually going back. Not that the media, with some the notable exceptions around the world, have noticed. In some cases, those who just set a foot on Brazil are repeating the stereotypes that good correspondents got rid of very long ago. Difficult to say they will have time to understand and do a good job until the World Cup.

Too many mistakes to list in this video. Some are addressed in previous posts

That misunderstanding is partially our fault. As I said over and over, Brazil is a very self-centered country and we are the only ones to blame for that. We surely don’t need to embrace all European and American standards, but as a country taking a bigger presence in the international arena Brazil also needs to defend its values and culture before those who don’t get it.

That lack of empathy is also what makes many foreigners defend Brazil doesn’t take a bigger global role or even lose its rights to host the World Cup (my colleague Fernando Duarte was much more elegant to talk about that).

The most recent wave of stories finds a way to say Brazil wouldn’t be ready for the World Cup if it were to start tomorrow. The last time I checked it is supposed to start on 12 June 2014. There is surely a lot of work to do. Not only for the hosts, but also for those in international media who want to cover it in a comprehensive and accurate fashion.

About Mauricio Savarese

I am a Brazilian journalist who got tired of reporting only in Portuguese. Politics and football, these are my turfs. Twitter: @msavarese. Email: savarese.mauricio@gmail.com

Posted on 09/07/2013, in Football, Social, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. André Bastos

    O pessoal ficou bravo com o Colbert quando o UOL repercutiu o vídeo, mas o tom é totalmente satírico, já que ele interpreta no programa um típico apresentador de extrema-direita americano, ignorante sobre qualquer outra cultura ou país que não seja os EUA. E o comediante obviamente sabe muito mais sobre o país do que o seu personagem revela, já que ele pronuncia “Brasil” como se faz em bom português, e não o “Brazil” em inglês, algo que eu já vi o Jon Stewart fazer também. Quanto à mídia britânica, ai é problema dos elbows, que estão todos bem doloridos desde que o Brasil se tornou o primeiro país latino-americano a superar a economia do ex-império. Sad, pathetic and desperate. E realmente, toda santa reunião do G8 na Europa termina em pancadaria de manifestantes, seja em Paris, Londres, Madrid, Bruxelas ou qualquer outra cidade. Double standard, as usual.

  1. Pingback: The Strange World of Brazilian Protests | The Head of the Heard

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