Red top tabloids’ Brazil ignorance
I’ve worked for a tabloid in the past, and what they are all about is sensationalism and pulling in readers in any way they can. Telling the truth doesn’t really come into this journalism. That’s why they are in all kinds of trouble with the British law at the moment. The problem I have with the reports about Brazil is that they show that the authors know nothing about the country.
Since the New Year, global newspapers have renewed their attacks on Brazil, doing their best to make even the most tenuous of links to the World Cup. Three words have dominated these headlines and have been used together dozens of times over the last few weeks, mainly in the red top British tabloids. These are ‘fear’, and ‘World Cup’. They are used in combinations in subheadings.
These papers are trying to turn their readers away from Brazil. The Daily Mail, for example, pointed out to its readers that they’ll encounter deadly snakes and spiders when going to the match in Brazil. Last weekend when people were protesting in São Paulo, The Sun went crazy, saying that Brazilian ‘thugs vow to stop footie’. That is just irresponsible.
The World Cup hosts have many problems to sort out. People are right to protest – even those who don’t want the World Cup because of the overspend on stadiums, underspend on everything else. Rather than pass them off as hooligans, the red top tabloid could actually address the grievances. But they just won’t.
It is right that reporters cover the problems in the lead up in a fair and transparent way. But where’s the balance?
Yes, Brazil is late with the stadiums to a FIFA deadline. Despite the delays, though, we have passed the point of no return. FIFA no longer has an option but to host the World Cup in Brazil. International media appears to now accept this and has refocused its attentions. The very worst that can happen is that a city or two is denied the right to host matches – but even that’s unlikely.
Not many bright people take red top seriously, Brazil should know.
But British red top papers are attacking constantly and relentlessly. Every report they have written on Brazil has focused on a negative. The protests, the cars-on-fire, the robberies, the deaths. It is as if there were nothing else.
They have a right to cover whatever they like before the World Cup. But the wonderful, amazing things Brazil has to offer are also a part of the World Cup.
What about all of Brazil’s successes, and amazing people doing amazing things? What about tourist documentaries showing people about where they should go in Brazil, how they should navigate the country and cities they will visit at the World Cup? Nada.
The strange thing about this saga is there are some tremendous reporters in the ground in Brazil, like BBC’s Wyre Davies. Still, somewhere down the line, for all media, there is an editor in London refusing to accept positive interesting stories. An editor that very likely knows much less than their reporters.
In red top tabloids, this could be the only Brazilian voice allowed.
As a former tabloid writer, I understand what some correspondents in Brazil are doing: looking for a paycheck. Maybe if I were them I’d write whatever the commissioning editors wanted. If that was a ‘Brazil Fears World Cup’ story, I’d find one of them – there are plenty of opportunities.
But media bosses should stop this nonsense now. At very least, we need some balance. Besides, you can bet most of their stories will be forgotten just before the first kick-off whistle is blown.
Shaun is a Scottish journalist who blogs on Brazil at The Brazil Blog.