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.

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 15/10/2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Wow! 30, 000 views in only 3 months is impressive to say the least. I like to link to your blog so my friends and family know a little bit about what is going on in Brazil. I might not agree with everything you write but I admire the way you write it. Here’s to the next 30, 000.

    • Mauricio Savarese

      Thanks Stephen, you are one of the readers I am proud to have in this blog. 🙂 Cheers!

  2. Hi Mauricio,

    Firstly congratulations on reaching 30,000. This is a huge achievement and really shows the quality of your writing, and how engaging and important it is.
    I am in a slightly different position in that I am British living in Brazil. I too agree with many of your observations about both the foreign and Brazilian media, and on my own blog I am trying to fill in some gaps reporting on Brazil in English (as well as having some articles in Portuguese which need to reach a wider Brazilian audience).
    So for example, I have recently been a guest of CNI reporting on their extremely important forum on bioeconomics, where there should have been far more reporters present. I have also recently started to comment on the Economist special issue in this article where I was invited to a forum on innovation by FINEP and Harvard Business Review Brasil (who I also blog for)
    I am sure it will be through the independent media where the most sensitive, nuanced and knowledgeable reporting will come from.
    Um grande abraço

    • Mauricio Savarese

      Thanks Simon. I think the World Cup will be good for Brazil to be more international, big sporting events always do that. That’s probably going to make people more accountable for success and failure. Understanding the country well is essential for success. Now I am working more often with the international market I can see how important it is to give a safe haven to those that want to come. Brazil is a very embracing country and it has to understand itself better so it present itself more fairly. Nice to have you in this journey as well. Cheers!

  3. Marina Beneton

    Congratulations !
    It’s math: love for your job + professionalism + open mind people = Success

    Keep Walking… Mauricio Savarese


  4. Hi Mauricio,

    Firstly congratulations for reaching 30,000 and here’s to reaching 300,000. Your writing is engaging, insightful, with a wry sense of humour and perspective. I don’t always agree with your view points but you always stimulate debate.

    I don’t think it is just the brazilian media that is immature in not wanting to debate constructive feedback good and bad with good argumentation to change perceptions.

    There are many countries in the same boat across the board.

    When working training multicultural teams and managers I’ve noticed that those countries with a strong educational focus on debating and asking for feedback usually have a more mature media. Perhaps an over-simplistic hypothesis for a complex country such as Brazil but maybe a contributing factor.

  5. Not just Brazil. Same syndrome in Chile, in Peru, you name it. Here in Santiago, I’m lucky to find correspondent reports from the Atacama or Patagonia, forget about Rio or Quito. A mention in the NYT is more important than a summit meeting in Barranquilla. No wonder the great bulk of locals just read the farandula.

  1. Pingback: The pleasure of serious criticism | hjoycebrazil

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