A sign Brazilian media doesn’t talk to the world: 30,000 views for this blog
First of all, thank you for reading ABOTA (A Brazilian Operating in This Area).
In about three months of intensive blogging, the 30,000 views barrier has been broken. I could never expect that when I started. You have made this blog better by giving me feedback and criticism. You have made me a better journalist as well, at a time my career is gradually shifting from my native language to English. So, again, thank you for being part of this.
This blog’s readership, however, has a lot to do with the headline.
My most popular posts were those shown by Brazilians to internationals. What my countrymen wanted was to find a credible Brazilian voice that explained what is going on. Those who used my writing felt they didn’t have much of a choice. They trusted me as source for three reasons: my experience as journalist (a Google search will do), my social media presence and the fact foreign correspondents aren’t as entrenched here. Some Brazilians relate to me and that is why I could explain on their behalf.
Our mainstream media has for very long struggled with the idea of being a bridge between our country and the rest of the world. Less and less people relate to them. Long ago they decided to copy foreign standards instead of developing a Brazilian perspective. That’s why our papers and broadcasters have more correspondents in London than in Buenos Aires. One of our newspapers has four reporters in the US and none in the Amazon. There are more Brazilian reporters in New York than in all other nations of South America.
It has been like that for ages. And it gives Brazilian press very little credit abroad. They could have used the 2014 World Cup as an experiment to extend their reach and influence, but so far they have failed just as much as the governments they criticize.
Although our media strangely tries to show itself in the Elizabeth Arden circuit, they aren’t allowed in that club for three simple reasons: they report almost exclusively in Portuguese, do a bad job covering their own country and offer a very Americanized perspective on international news. One that deciphers Portuguese to read our newspapers or watch our broadcasters will be sure we have more worries with terrorists in the Middle East than with drug dealers in our Latin America.
It makes no sense.
Brazilian media is part of the reason why Brazil is under-reported and seen as exotic in many places. Since our outlets don’t cover their own turf well, they are widely disregarded by foreign media that understands Portuguese. Just ask any correspondent here. That comprehensible disregard widens the gap with those who could be more interested about our young, troubled and complex democracy. A place that has more to do with those who run global media than China, Russia or India gets much less attention.
Since Brazilian media is notably incompetent in making their stories globally known, they are obsessed with anything foreigners write about our country. It makes no difference whether it was published in the Daily Mail or in the New York Times — they always think it is worthy to talk about foreigners looking at us. Although there are reports that do mistake our complexity for exoticism, it is just naive to believe every story should bring a debate for the fact of being published abroad.
Debating media is not particularly amusing in Brazil. Most journalists only accept doing that at the pub. Those that do it in social media, like I do, have to deal with the fact colleagues will rarely respond publicly in a fair discussion. Most Brazilian journalists behave like children in the media debate. They are either incapable or afraid of an open discussion on their reports, even if you start it with elegance. Any public criticism is seen as an aggression — and an even bigger one if it is made by a fellow journalist.
That partially explains why The Economist’s Helen Joyce (read her blog) has been bullied on Twitter because of a 14-page report most Brazilians haven’t even read. (About oversensitive Brazilians, I recommend Andrew Downie’s post). Instead of repeating what the correspondent wrote, Brazilian media could have tried to prove her wrong with a local perspective. Here is a very specific one on education expenses. And there are surely others. But our media doesn’t want to engage nationally or globally.
Too bad for them. Too bad for Brazil.
At least I am trying.