Nassif on Veja: “Cacophony Orchestrated by a Poison Blue Pencil!”


The Grupo Abril’s Veja magazine cover story on the iPhone: “It’s like magic!” When the product rolled out last year, Steve Jobs referred to it systematically as “a magical device” and the like. Great minds — Apple marketers and Veja journalists — apparently think alike. To an eerie degree [cue spooky theremin music.]

In the 1980s, Alcântara made a name for himself with the biggest journalistic boner of the decade in the case of the [“cowmato”] — an April Fool’s joke from New Science magazine describing the crossing of a cow with a tomato by a certain Dr. McDonalds of Hamburger University. The article was published [in Veja] on April 27, 1983 as if it were true.

“Editor: a person employed by a newspaper, whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to see that the chaff is printed.” —Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915)

A mudança de comando: Brazilian journalist Luis Nassif is using Googlepages to publish a series of articles about Veja magazine and the Editora Abril — fulfilling a promise made late last year to substantiate claims about jaw-droppingly promiscuous conflicts of interest and journalistic malpractice that make the New York Post look like the freaking New Testament in comparison.

He had promised to answer the question, Why is Veja magazine the jaw-droppingly sleazy font of disinformation and hysterical bullshit that it has become? [My characterization; Mr. Nassif uses more diplomatic language.]

See

I have not had time to catch up on my reading lately, so let me simply translate (draft-quality, and probably badly, which is not the fault of its original author, of course) as I read, and try to pull together a summary of the plot so far when I get a moment.

The chapters so far:

  1. Os momentos de catarse e a mídia (Cathartic moments and the media)
  2. A mudança de comando (The change of command)
  3. A guerra das cervejas (The beer wars)
  4. O caso André Esteves (The André Esteves case)

    Today: Episode 2, “The Attack of the Killer Cowmatos” …

    Não vem ao caso discorrer, agora, sobre o fenômeno “Veja”. Mino Carta a lançou no final dos anos 60. A conformação final foi dada nos anos 80 pela dupla José Roberto Guzzo e Élio Gáspari, um misto de senso comum com matérias brilhantes, tendo como foco uma classe média não muito sofisticada.

    … a look back at the Veja phenomena. Mino Carta launched the magazine in the late 1960s. It assumed its definitive form in the 1980s under José Roberto Guzzo and Élio Gaspari, a mixture of common sense with brilliantly written articles focused on a fairly unsophisticated middle class readership.

    O modelo não prescindia de ataques muitas vezes desqualificadores contra terceiros, lista negra de pessoas que não poderiam aparecer na revista, o direito de “detonar” quem quisesse, especialmente pessoas que se recusassem a passar informações para a revista, e coisas do gênero, uma espécie de “marca da maldade”, mas com talento, que seria continuada por seguidores menos talentosos.

    This model did not, however, did spare the use of attacks, often personal and insulting, against others, or black lists of people who could not appear in its pages, or the right to “burn” anyone they wished,especially sources who refused to provide the magazine with information, and things of that sort — a sort of trademark for malice, but done with talent, that would be continued later on by less talented imitators.

    Com a saída de ambos, nos anos 90 houve uma sucessão de diretores seguindo um padrão: os que entravam eram jornalisticamente inferiores aos que eram substituídos.

    With the exit of Gaspari and Guzzo, the 1990s saw a series of editorial directors that followed a certain pattern: The latest director was always journalistically inferior to the one he replaced.

    Sounds a bit like the Village Voice. See

    Gradativamente o modelo passou a ser tocado por mãos menos habilidosas e, ano a ano, seus principais vícios acabaram exacerbados: agressividade desmedida, desqualificação, uso abusivo de dossiês suspeitos, matérias ficcionais. Mantinha-se a maldade, mas sem o talento.

    Gradually, the Veja model fell into less capable hands, and year after year, its principal vices got worse and worse: Pointless agression, personal insults, the abuse of suspect “dossiers,” reporting that was nothing more than fiction. The magazine’s malice remained, but the talent was gone.

    Guzzo foi substituído por Mário Sérgio Conti. Mais tarde, assumiu Tales Alvarenga, falecido recentemente, e que foi o primeiro a estrear o estilo chulo dos “neocons”.

    Guzzo was replaced by Mário Sérgio Conti. Later, the recently deceased Tales Alvarenga took over, and was the first to roll out the crude, smutty style typical of the “neocons.”

    Logo depois, Tales foi chutado para cima, e seu posto ocupado por Eurípides Alcântara, o mais antigo dos quadros da Veja, e o último de sua geração a chegar ao posto de comando.

    But Tales was soon “kicked upstairs” and his post handed to Eurípides Alcântara, the magazine’s most veteran staffer and the last of his generation to rise into a management position.

    Nos anos 80 Eurípides se destacara pela maior barriga da imprensa brasileira na década: o caso do “boimate” – um trote de 1o [sic] de abril da revista New Science, falando em cruzamento de boi com tomate na Universidade Hamburger, pelo Dr. McDonalds.

    In the 1980s, Alcântara made a name for himself with the biggest journalistic boner of the decade in the case of the [“cowmato”] — an April Fool’s joke from New Science magazine describing the crossing of a cow with a tomato by a certain Dr. McDonalds of Hamburger University.

    A matéria foi publicada em 27 de abril de 1983 como se fosse verdadeira (clique aqui).

    The article was published [in Veja] on April 27, 1983 as if it were truth (click here).

    Com a ascensão de Eurípides, subiu também Mário Sabino, promovido a diretor adjunto. Sabino veio do jornalismo cultural e deixou má impressão por redações por onde passou, pela truculência desmedida, tosca, que lhe custara piadas venenosas e maliciosas, como única forma de reação dos subordinados.

    With the promotion of Eurípides, Mário Sabino also rose to the post of assistant editorial director. Sabino came from a cultural journalism background and left a bad impression at the publications where he had worked, owing to his extreme, crude viciousness. His subordinates told venomous and malicious jokes about him — their only way of fighting back.

    Uma característica do jornalismo de Veja é que todas as matérias passam pelo diretor ou diretor adjunto. A imagem do “prego arranhando vinil” é antiga na revista, e serve para identificar os “cacos” que são plantados em reportagens por diretores pouco sutis. Em linguagem não jornalística, “cacos” são as modificações introduzidas no texto da reportagem original.

    One characteristic of Veja journalism is that all articles are reviewed by the editorial director or his assistant. The metaphor of “scratching the LP with a nail” has long been used at the magazine to describe the [“crap,” “crud,” “noise”] that get inserted into articles by editors, who are not very subtle about it. For you nonjournalists, cacos are changes in the text of the original article.

    Cacos are, among other things, brickbats, shards, powdered tobacco, useless old farts (sou um caco velho) and in general, trash, junk, rubble — things fall apart, the center cannot hold, and the end product is generally a heap of cacos. Whether the word derives from the Greek for “noise” — as in cacophony — I am not sure. It probably ought to.

    Dentre todos os diretores que Veja teve, nenhum praticou “cacos” tão ostensivamente grosseiros quanto Sabino. É capaz de assinar pessoalmente críticas recheadas de elogios ao último livro de Otávio Frias Filho, diretor da “Folha”, ou de Ali Kamel, diretor de “O Globo. E enfiar um prego no comentário do crítico da revista, cometendo ataques gratuitos e não assinados contra colegas, como fez contra Mário Rosa ou outro jornalista cultural, Daniel Piza, por ocasião do lançamento de seu livro sobre Machado de Assis (clique aqui).

    Of all the editorial directors Veja has had, no one inserted cacos with such ostentatious crudity as Sabino. He is capable of issuing reviews under his own byline with copious praises for the latest book by Folha publisher Frias Jr. or Ali Kamel, journalism director at Globo.

    Ali Kamel is the most dishonest man in the Southern Hemisphere, in my view. That I know of. I have not yet completed my systematic travels in the hemisphere, bearing the lamp of Diogenes yet, mind you.

    And “taking a nail” to a commentary by the magazine’s critic, with gratuitous, anonymous attacks on colleagues such as Mário Rosa, or fellow cultural journalist Daniel Piza, when his book on Machado de Assis came out.

    Eurípides e Sabino, tinham em comum a inexperiência com os chamados temas “duros” do jornalismo – política, economia e a grande reportagem. Sabino era da área cultural. Eurípides trafegara pela Editoria de Ciência e Internacional.

    What Eurípides and Sabino had in common was a lack of experience in so-called “hard news” subjects — politics, economics, and investigative reporting. Sabino was a cultural journalist. Euripides has spent time in the science and international publishing divisions.

    Sem grande ferramental técnico, passaram a exacerbar a agressividade, a desqualificação, a agressão gratuita.

    Lacking technical qualifications, they wound up [cranking up the volume] on the insults, the aggressiveness, the gratuitous attacks.

    Em 5 de outubro de 2005, após ter se recusado a dar uma entrevista exclusiva a Veja, a revista soltou uma matéria contra Maria Rita, tratando-a como “a filha de Elis”, sem mencionar seu nome, e acusando-a de dar um “mensalinho” para a imprensa: “Gravadora presenteia jornalistas com iPods. E eles agradecem falando bem da cantora”. Aproveitavam para começar a exercer ataques contra colegas (clique aqui)

    On October 5, 2005, after she refused to give Veja an exclusive interview, the magazine published an article against [singer] Maria Rita, calling her “the daughter of [Elis Regina],” without mentioning her name, and accusing her of [offering payola to] the press: “Record company presents journalists with iPods. And they thank it be giving positive reviews to the singer.” Take a look at how they attack their colleagues.

    But see

    Payola is a sore point in the Brazilian press these days.

    The Editora Abril recently rolled out a policy on the subject that compares rather unfavorably with global industry best practices.

    By that I mean that where most news organization do not allow you to take any gifts at all, Abril limits you to accepting the price of a four-star meal, but not a five-star meal. What amazes me more is that they actually expect us to be impressed by the new era of good governance this is supposed to represent.

    See

    All I have time for this morning. I will read this with attention when I get a chance.

    The chapter on the beer wars ought to be the interesting part.

    The image “https://i0.wp.com/i113.photobucket.com/albums/n216/cbrayton/playboy3.png” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
    G1/Globo photo feature, October 10: Lawmaker reads Playboy Brasil (Grupo Abril) with Mônica Veloso on the cover at his desk on the House floor. We all now know what Monica, star of a Veja-sponsored political sex scandal that wound up going nowhere — the anonymous source was Monica’s palimony lawyer, who seems to have lied to Congress about the affair — has tattooed on her ass. Which I, for one, did not really need to know.

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