Explosive Story: “Globo Dissident Scoops the Network That Ratfinked Him”

Vi o Mundo (“I saw the world, which is something you don’t see on TV”) — a peculiar little pocket of free expression on Globo.com, in the tradition of the Shakespearean “allowed fool,” perhaps — interviews Rodrigo Vianna.

Fired from Rede Globo because, he says, he refused to sign a petition, circulated in-house, testifying freely and spontaneously to the absolute impartiality of Globo’s elections coverage last year, Vianna has been awarded the Vladimir Herzog Human Rights prize for a report he did for the rival Record network.

See

Record seems to be raiding all the Globo talent it can these days.

Also honored: the O Globo reporting team responsible for a recent special section on urban violence. Putting some very difficult facts into the public record, no doubt. See

But see also

Rodrigo Vianna, aquele repórter que não serve para a TV Globo, ganhou o prêmio Vladimir Herzog de Direitos Humanos. Dia desses trocamos farpas virtuais neste espaço. Eu disse que a privatização das ferrovias no Brasil havia fracassado. O Rodrigo disse que não, que deu o resultado que os concessionários esperavam. Como ele esteve lá, fazendo reportagem, enquanto eu dei palpite confortavelmente sentado em meu aquário – de chefe deste site -, fico com a opinião do repórter.

Vianna, the reporter found wanting by TV Globo, has been awarded the Herzog Human Rights Prize. We traded virtual barbs in this space not long ago. I said that railroad privatization had failed, Rodrigo disagreed, saying the concession-holders got the result they wanted. Given that he is out there reporting, while I was just sitting in my fishbowl, editing this blog, I am going to defer to his opinion as a reporter.

No caso do prêmio, eu estava curioso para saber como é que ele havia furado a TV Globo, que tem uma presença nacional muito mais forte e uma equipe de produção que, francamente, é bem melhor que a da TV Record. No mínimo, é mais numerosa. Então fiquei sabendo que a produção foi de Luís Malavolta, com quem comecei a trabalhar no “Jornal da Cidade”, de Bauru, quando nós dois ainda usávamos calça curta. Malavolta é outro ex-global, cujo talento foi reconhecido pela emissora com a transferência para um cargo em que ele ficou sem mesa e sem computador para trabalhar. Com o Rodrigo eu me garanto, mas com o Malavolta é ruim de competir. Fiz três perguntas ao Rodrigo, o repórter preferido de muitos… ops… chefes da Globo.

Regarding the prize, I was curious to learn how he had scooped TV Globo on the story, when Globo has a much more substantial presence nationally and a production team that is, let’s be honest, much better than TV Record’s. I learned that the prize-winning report had been produced by Luís Malavolta, whom I know from when I worked on Jornal da Cidade in Bauru, back when both of us still wore short pants. Malavolta is another former employee of Globo, which rewarded his talent with a transfer to a job in which he had no desk or computer to work on. I can hold my own with Rodrigo, but Malavolta is tough to compete with. I asked three questions of Rodrigo, the favorite reporter of many … ahem … of the Globo bosses.

Qual foi a reportagem premiada?

What report did you win the prize for?

A reportagem (na verdade, uma série de 3 matérias, exibidas em março no “Jornal da Record”) conta a história da explosão de uma fábrica de fogos, em Santo Antônio de Jesus, município do Recôncavo Baiano. A tragédia ocorreu há 9 anos!! No dia 11 de dezembro de 98, 64 pessoas (mulheres e crianças) morreram na explosão. Trabalhavam sem segurança, sem treinamento, sem registro em carteira, sem direitos trabalhistas!

The report — it was actually a three-part series aired on the Jornal da Record in March, tells the story of an explosion in a fireworks factor in the Recôncavo Baiano (Bahia). The tragedy happened 9 years ago! On December 11, 1998, 64 persons (women and children) died in the explosion. There were working without safety measures, without training, without formal employment, without labor rights!

O que é mais escandaloso: até hoje ninguém foi julgado. Veja bem: não estou falando que os responsáveis foram absolvidos, ou que foram condenados, mas recorreram e respondem em liberdade… Não! O que ocorre é algo mais escandaloso: ninguém foi julgado!! Quase dez anos depois da tragédia, o julgamento – em primeira instância – não ocorreu. Por isso, resolvemos voltar a Santo Antônio de Jesus, pra ouvir famílias das vítimas e sobreviventes.

What is even more scandalous is that no one has been tried in the case yet. Look here: I am not saying that the guilty were let off, or that they were found guilty, but are free pending appeal. No! It is worse than that: No one was put on trial. Nearly ten years later, the trial — in a lower court — has not even happened yet. For that reason, we returned tothe city to interview survivors and relatives of victims.

Pra nossa supresa, encontramos muito mais:

To our surprise, we discovered much more:

– a fábrica voltou a funcionar;

  • The factory is back in operation.

– Osvaldo, o “Vardo dos Fogos”, continua tocando o negócio lucrativo, com apoio da família;

  • The owner, “Vardo the Fireworks Man,” is still running a lucrative business, backed by his family;

– os parentes e amigos do “Vardo” agem como se fossem donos da cidade; nos ameçaram durante as gravações, isso conseguimos até registrar;

  • Vardo’s relatives and friends act like they own the town; they threatened us during shooting, and we even managed to record the threats;

– a população humilde, sem opção, continua a trabalhar pra ele na fabricação dos fogos (a produção é terceirizada, e em muitos casos as pessoas trabalham dentro de casa, com material perigoso).

  • The poor population, which has no other choice, continues working for Vardo making fireworks (production is outsourced, and in many cases people work at home with hazardous materials).

Em tempo: não vi a classe média “cansada” fazer passeata, pra lembrar os mortos dessa e de outras tragédias que assolam o “Brasil profundo”. Repito: foram 64 pessoas!! Valem menos que as vítimas de acidente aéreo?

I never saw the “sick and tired” middle class holding a march to remember the dead of this and other tragedies from “the heartland of Brazil.” I repeat: 64 dead! Are they worth any less than the victims of the TAM aviation disaster?

O Brasil foi parar na Comissão de Direitos Humanos da OEA, pelo fato de ninguém ter sido julgado até hoje!!

Brazil has been been taken to the human rights commission of the OAS because no one has been charged yet.

Mostramos isso nas matérias também.

We show that in our reporting as well.

Como vocês conseguiram furar a Globo?

How did you manage to scoop Globo?

Boa questão. Em 98, todo mundo cobriu a explosão, o factual. Depois, o caso caiu em esquecimento. Perguntei ao povo lá na Bahia: “as TVs aqui não pressionam? A afiliada da Globo na Bahia tem boa estrutura, não dá cobertura ao caso?” O sujeito olhou para mim, com ar de espanto: “rapaz, você não sabe quem é o dono da afiliada da Globo na Bahia? É o ACM, rapaz… O cara que manda nos fogos em Santo Antônio de Jesus é da turma de ACM, você acha que a Globo vai dar atenção a isso?”. (Em tempo: ACM ainda estava vivo quando fizemos as matérias em março.)

Good question. In 1998, everyone covered the explosion, the fact of it. Afterwards, the case was forgotten. I asked people there in Bahia: “Didn’t the TV news here bring pressure? The Globo affiliate in Bahia has plenty of resources, did they not cover the case?” The guy looked at me with an air of astonishment: “Dude, don’t you know who owns the Globo affiliate in Bahia? Antônio Carlos Magalhães, my boy. The guy who runs the fireworks racket in that town is one of ACM’s gang, you really think Globo is going to pay attention to this?” (Note: Magalhães was still alive when we did the report back in March.)

Veja, Azenha, a importância de haver concorrência no Jornalismo! A Record agora tem estrutura e disposição pra enviar uma equipe lá pra Bahia, pra contar a história que a Globo não conta! A Globo tem equipe pra fustigar os quilombolas na Bahia, como fez recentemente! Mas pra falar sobre a impunidade , num caso de 64 mortos, aí não tem equipe… Estranho, né? O engraçado é que a turma da Globo ligou pras nossas fontes depois da matéria ir ao ar, reclamando: “pôxa, por que não avisaram a gente, por que passaram pra Record?” Ou seja, a concorrência tá incomodando! Isso é bom pra Democracia, e para o público.

That, Azenha, is the importance of having competition in journalism! Record now has the resources and willingness to send a team up there to Bahia to tell stories that Globo won’t tell! Globo has a team available to rail against the quilombo movement, of course, as they did recently.

An astonishingly sleazy hit-piece, that — it aired on the Jornal Nacional, and when Globo.com published the transcripts of the piece, the transcripts appeared to have been doctored to reflect nonexistent facts:

But to report on impunity in the case of 64 deaths, there is no one available to cover it. Weird, right? The finny thing is that the Globo gang called up our sources after the piece aired, complaining: “Dang, why didn’t you tell us, why’d you give it to Record?” That is, the competition is getting to them! This is good for Democracy, and for the public.

O que você acha do novo cenário que está se desenhando na TV brasileira, com a Record e a TV pública?

What do you think of the new scenario that is emerging for Brazilian TV, with Record and public television?

Permita-me uma pequena digressão. O Brasil avançou em muitas coisas nas últimas décadas. O processo começou lá atrás, com Getúlio. O País deixou de ser uma grande fazenda, industrializou-se, incluiu no jogo político as camadas médias urbanas, o operariado e, mais recentemente, a grande massa que vive nas periferias. Hoje, elas mandam no país! Queiram ou não os “formadores de opinião…”

Allow me a slight digression. Brazil has advanced in many things in recent decades. The process began back with Getúlio (Vargas). Brazil stopped being a vast plantation, it industrialized, it involved the urban middle class in the political game, then the working class, and, more recently, the great mass of people from the peripheries. Now, those people run things! Whether the “shapers of public opinion” like it or not …

Apesar de deficências enormes no sistema público, mais de 95% das crianças estão nas escolas (mérito do governo FHC)! A Previdência Social tem defeitos enormes, mas chega a todas as cidades brasileiras. É um dos maiores programas sociais do Mundo, universalizado graças à Constituinte cidadã do Doutor Ulisses. Ou seja, bem ou mal, o Estado (com letra maiúscula! Desculpe-me aquela revista editada às margens fétidas do rio Pinheiros) chega hoje mais perto dos brasileiros. Os tempos de Casa Grande & Senzala vão ficando pra trás (lentamente, é verdade, mas a desigualdade está diminundo no Brasil – e, aí, méritos para o governo Lula).

Despite the enormous deficiencies of public education, more than 95% of kids are in schools (kudos to the Cardoso administration!) Social security has many defects, but it is present in every Brazilian city. It is one of the biggest social programs in the World, universalized thanks to the Constituent Assembly of Dr. Ulysses (Guimarães). That is, for good or ill, the State (with a capital S! and may that magazine edited on the stinking banks of Pinheiros River (Veja) forgive me) is now closer than ever to its citizens. The times of the “big house and the slave quarters” (landmark study by sociologist Gilberto Freyre) are vanishing (slowly, it is true, but inequality is shrinking here — and in that sense, kudos to the Lula government).

Mas, no jornalismo, ainda vivemos como se a Revolução de 30 não tivesse acontecido. Ainda vivemos sob a tutela dos “barões da imprensa” (um ex-colega nosso na Globo usou essa expressão e foi duramente repreendido pela direção da emissora… Pra você ver como incomoda!). A Globo comanda o baronato… Nos anos 90, ensaiou uma modernização. Foi o período de Evandro no Jornalismo.

But in the area of journalism, it is as though the Revolution of 1930 never happened. We still live at the pleasure of the “barons of the press” (a former colleague of mine at Globo used the expression and was harshly reprimanded by management … just to give you an idea of how uncomfortable the term makes them!). Globo rules the baronial class … In the 1990s, it attempted a modernization. That was the period of Evandro.

As I noted about a previous interview with Mr. Vianna:

Vianna recalls efforts by Globo TV journalism director and former O Globo newspaper editor in chief Evandro Carlos de Andrade to reform standards and practices for Globo journalism in the 1990s, and the erosion of his influence after his death in 2001.

Neuza (Mrs. NMMist) was just recalling that historical moment over a boteco lunch the other day …

Mas, a Globo vive hoje uma fase regressiva: contra os movimentos sociais, contra as cotas, contra Bolsa-Familia, a emissora quer provar que não há racismo no Brasil. Quer porque quer. Um diretor lá, meio aloprado, cismou com o tema. Sujeito meio esquisitão aquele! A Record surge como uma alternativa a essa fase aloprada da Globo. A Record é uma emissora ainda em construção, onde trabalho há apenas 8 meses. O que posso dizer: aqui, nunca ninguém quis mexer nos meus textos, nem me transformar em ventríloquo… Aqui, não há ordem pra estigmatizar os “movimentos sociais”. Aqui, MST, quilombolas e sem-teto recebem tratamento jornalístico normal! Sem neuras.

But today, Globo is in a regressive phase: Against social movements, against quotas, against the Bolsa-Familia social program, it tries to prove that racism does not exist in Brazil. It believes it can will that into being true. A certain half-insane manager there is obsessed with the topic. A real weirdo, that guy!

I am personally more in favor of needs-based incentives than race-based quotas, but that attitude probably mostly comes from the fact that I am not from here.

The reference is to Ali Kamel, director or Globo Journalism Central — one of the most systematically dishonest, logic-chopping. willfully mendacious public voices I have ever had blasted at me over the gazillion-jigawatt megaphone in my entire life. And mind you, I have been exposed to the gabblings of Limbaugh. Limbaugh is Pat Kiernan of NY1 next to this gibbering Moonie.

Why does this man still have a job?

I simply cannot understand it.

Record is emerging as an alternative to this period of complete insanity at Globo. Record is a work in progress, where I have worked only 8 months. What I can say, though, is that here, no one ever messes with my reporting, or tries to turn me into a ventriloquist’s dummy. Here, there are no standing orders to stigmatize the “social movements.” Here, the MST, the quilombo movement, the homeless, get a normal journalistic treatment. Without neuroses.

A emissora pública é uma necessidade do Brasil! Vejo a oposição gritando contra. Ora, em São Paulo, a TV Cultura existe há décadas, e até recentemente estava sob a mão pesada dos tucanos, dirigida por um ex-deputado do PSDB!

Public broadcasting is a must for Brazil! Just look at screams of opposition to it. Look, in São Paulo, you have had TV Cultura for decades, and until recently it was under the thumb of the Toucans, directed by an ex-congressmember of the PSDB!

Trabalhei lá na Cultura nos anos 90. Governos do PMDB (Quércia e Fleury) não metiam o bedelho na TV. Havia um conselho e uma direção independentes. Não era emissora estatal, mas pública!

I worked at Cultura in the 1990s. The PMDB governments (Quércia e Fleury) did not meddle with it. There was an independent board and independent management. It was a public station, not a state-controlled one!

Depois, com o PSDB no governo (Covas e Alckmin), parece que mudou, os caras fizeram nomeações politicas…

Then, when the PSDB came in (Covas and Alckmin), it seemed to change, those guys starting making politically-motivated nominations …

Agora, com Paulo Markun (jornalista sério e competente) na presidência, a Cultura tem tudo pra voltar aos bons tempos! O Serra percebeu que a Cultura precisa ser pública de novo! É possível fazer o mesmo em nível nacional: emissora pública, com conselho independente, representação de setores variados da sociedade. Sem compromisso absoluto com audiência. Acho saudável e salutar para o Brasil. Tomara que funcione.

But now, with Markun [a serious and competent journo] as president, Cultura has a good chance of returning to the good times!

Neuza thinks Markun is the cat’s pyjamas, too.

Cultura’s current tagline is something like, “Ever more public.”

We like TV Cultura — supported by the Anchieta Foundation — pretty much okay. Abujamra rocks. Changes there are interesting to watch. The problem is that there is only one of it, it is not that well endowed, so it can wear a little thin, in the middle of all the dubbed versions of the very worst of the WB that dominate the evening programming grid here … It’s either Cultura or the all-boi zebu auction channel, and there are moments when the noble boi zebu channel is resorted to, just for a change of pace — or even the awful heresy of The Simpsons dubbed into Portuguese (with Bart as a baritone and a Krusty who spouts not a single Yiddishism. Feh!)

Serra saw that Cultura needed to be public again! It is possible to do the same thing at the national level: public broadcaster, with an independent board, representation from various sectors of society. With an absolute commitment to its audience. I think it is healthy for Brazil. I hope it works.

Does Governor Serra deserve credit? If so, thanks, Zé!

The counterdemonization of “the other bald Toucan” always strikes a false note with me, as a Martian anthropologist. It’s a similar phenomenon to our own “Red State-Blue State” political blogging wars, with the vast excluded middle caught in the crossfire of gabbling, shrieking, scandalmongering noise.

I mean, I voted for a Republican, a Democrat and an independent in the last NYC elections. I mean, I am basically pro-union, but that does not mean I think every union should always and in every case win when it comes to fighting City Hall, or that every union is well-governed and represents its members well just because it is a union. We all know cases where that has not been the case.

I just grudgingly admit that unions have a perfect right to organize, parade around with their giant inflatable rat, and pitch their case to me. I am currently sort of on the fence between Bloomberg and the teachers unions. But in any event, lining union organizers up and shooting them, in the grand Plan Colombia style, is definitely out. And gabbling Red-baiting of the kind engaged in by the editorial page of the New York Sun just turns me off. Yada yada yada.

Para o bem da democracia, o Brasil precisa fazer a Revolução de 30 no campo da informação!! A Globo é a bastilha que precisa ser derrubada, simbolicamente. É o obelisco onde os gaúchos amarraram os cavalos quando acabaram com a República dos fazendeiros! Não acho que a Globo vai acabar. Ela tem excelência técnica, tem ótimos artistas, jornalistas. Precisa é perder nacos de audiência, perder importância, ter medo da concorrência. Assim, vai ser obrigada a fazer jornalismo de verdade. Se não, outros farão. A Record fará, como já vem fazendo. A internet fará, como já vem fazendo. A TV pública fará também, tomara que faça! O Vladimir Herzog, quando morreu, era diretor da TV Cultura. Veja: lá, em pleno regime miitar, havia jornalismo independente, que incomodava os milicos da linha-dura! E o Vlado morreu por causa disso… Tenho muito orgulho de ganhar um prêmio que leva o nome dele.

For the good of democracy, Brazil needs a Revolution of 1930 in the area of information services! Globo is the Bastille and needs to be torn down, symbolically. It is the obelisk the gauchos tied their horses to when they put an end to the Republic of the latifundio! I do not think that Globo is going to go out of business. It has technical excellence, excellent artists, journalists. It needs to lose chunks of audience, lose importance, fear its competition. If it does not, others will. Record will, as it is doing. The Internet will, as it is doing. TV public will as well, or at least I hope so. Vlad Herzog, when he died, was a director of TV Cultura. Just look: There, in the middle of the militar regime, there was independent journalism that made the hardline military men uncomfortable! And Vlado died because of it. I am very proud to win a prize that bears his name.

Vlado was grotesquely tortured and murdered because of it, would be more accurate to say.

Kind of reminds you of an Oscar acceptance speech, doesn’t it?

But you can understand why the guy is stoked and throwing it back in the face of his former employer. By all accounts, they ratfinked the guy but good.

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