24 January 2011

Isso é uma desgraça. IstoÉ vergonhosa.

On my way home the other night I picked up a special edition of IstoÈ, one of Brazil`s major news magazines. A few months ago I was interviewed by the very same magazine for what was a fairly balanced piece about the Maracanã reforms. I suppose I should not have had my hopes up for this “Special Copa 2014” edition whose title read: Golaço – How the biggest football tournament in the world is going to help Brazil grow.

I have long commentated about the ways in which OGlobo has zero critical perspective on the World Cup and the Olympics. But I was not expecting IstoÈ to take up the cause of FIFA and the CBF so fully, without uma pergunta séria nenhuma, publishing an entire magazine that had NO journalistic integrity, no examination of the incredibly complex issues surrounding the production of sportive constellations in 12 Brazilian cities, no economic analysis, nothing, nothing, nothing that shed any light at all on what is happening in preparation for the World Cup. Unfortunately, this represents the current state of public discourse in Brazil regarding the World Cup and Olympics.

The principal sections of the magazine referred to:
1)    1)  The “Legacy benefits”, the historical context of the 2014 World Cup in comparison to the 1950 World Cup. This lead with a picture of the Bird’s Nest in Beijing which has recently been turned into a shopping mall because there were no sporting tenants.
2)     2)  The amount of money that the CBF stands to gain from new sponsorship deals.
3)      3) An interview with Mario Zagallo, former coach and player for the seleção
4)      4) An interview with current seleção coach Mano Menezes
5)     5)  A ridiculously shallow profile of the twelve new stadiums suggesting that the “Maracanã is a model that should be followed”. Those familiar with this blog will understand why that is the stupidest, most ignorant headline imaginable
6)     6)  The problem of airports, the reforms underway and multiple guarantees from federal deputies and INFRAERO higher-ups that there will be no problems (even though last month more than 50% of domestic flights were delayed or cancelled).
7)     7)  Arquibancadas em paz. This was perhaps the most sickening of sections as it explained how fans will be surveiled and controlled via legal, technical, technological, social, and military mechanisms. The big joke here is that Flávio Martins, the vice president of the Federação das Toridas Organizadas do Rio de Janeiro is quoted as saying that he wants to have a place to park, a comfortable place to sit, etc. The sad story is that “the final objective is to valorize the fan, treating him like a client”. There is no need to read between the lines  - this is a radical change in Brazilian stadium culture, and the torcidas organizadas have been co-opted so that the spectacle of the arquibancada will be produced so that it can be consumed by wealthier, more comfortable clients. PQP. Oh, and there are plans underway to identify fans through fingerprinting as they enter the stadium:  “The new model proposes a pre-registration of torcidas organizdas and general fans with a collection of personal data and the emission of intelligent [sic] ID cards. The registration will be connected to INFOSEG [National System of Public Security Information]”.
8)     8) To back up the above controls, there is a section detailing the militarization of public space that we can expect, and come to love, for the World Cup and Olypmics. Once installed, why dismantle? Biometric cards for everyone will help control who can come in and out of the new centers of privatized urban governance like the Zona Portuaria. Your card will indicate place of employment and residence, which in Rio says plenty about who you “are” and where you “belong”.
9)     9)  Did you know that all financial expansion and economic development [sic] in Brasil over the next four years can be directly attributed to the World Cup? If you read this section, you will understand that without a mega-event the state would simply cease to function, having no money for the provision of health and sanitation. But wait, “the consolidation of the country in terms of tourism is causing the big hotel developers to dream big.” Meaning, of course, that there might be a hospital or road built somewhere, but the real money is going to be made by those who already have it.
10  10) A sad little section lamenting a loss against Argentina, com golaço de Messi, but lauding the progress of the Seleção under Menezes.
11  11) A little piece justifying the pontos corridos system instead of a playoff system, which many Brazilians prefer. This re-enforcing the position of the CBF. There is no alternative point of view given, even though the continuing success of the state tournaments owes much to the mata-mata playoff system.
1    12)   This unbelievable section features the best picture ever seen of Ricardo Teixeira, the most corrupt person in Brazil. It also lauds the way that Teixeira has “modernized” [sic] the CBF from the “age of paper to five times champion”. Como se fala PROPAGANDA? This is not journalism, it’s a bloody disgrace.
     13)    An exposé on the way that Ney Franco is training the Brazilian junior teams.
1   14)   Interviews with FIFA higher-ups describing the global media coverage of the World Cup and the need for investments in 3D transmission technology in Brazil. There is also an interview with the director of journalism engineering from, you guessed it, OGlobo! What a refreshing change! And to justify all of this, there is an enumeration of the FIFA exigencies for stadiums covering the media booth, radio and tv cabins, tv studios, media center, interview halls, mixed zone, flash interview positions, and parking. FIFA says, Brazil does.
15 15)   Transportation. R$40 billion in investment. This is arguably the most important, most impactful, and certainly the largest investment, yet IstoÈ dedicates the least amount of space to it. As we are seeing in Rio de Janeiro, the installation of transportation lines does not necessarily benefit the city. These need to be investigated on a case by case basis and not just be given some glib treatment that spews out numbers and interviews the people directing the projects.

In short, there is nothing informative in this magazine. It is false journalism and only thinly disguised propaganda for the government, the CBF, and FIFA. This magazine has done a great disservice to the Brazilian public. There are no authorial credits given in the entirety of the magazine, which gets whoever wrote this tripe off the hook for their false prophesies. The photos have no names assigned to them. The information comes from sources that are positioned to make fortunes from public and private investment. There are no alternative realities possible here; only the inexorable march towards a FIFA future that will be cradled within the warmish bosom of a consumer society (and speaking of bosoms, check out this week's cover). The inevitable corruption will be tolerated as long as Brazil wins the World Cup, manages not to screw up the transportation and has enough four and five star hotels for the FIFA boys to get their groove on (read: sexual tourism). It’s sickening and sad and pathetic, especially for a publication that claims to be "the most combative magazine in the country."  


WCHR said...

Great summing up, many thanks. Looking forward to reading the rest of your blog.

RG Michener said...

Good to see a critical review of the lousy jounalism-- Brazilian news made accessible. Ever thought of writing an editorial with a Brazilian colleague to publish...where?...Yeah, that might be a problem...

snapkakapop said...

Great blog you have too, Christopher! Will be following with interest!


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