São Paulo Diary: On the Record, Mud, Blood, Flood

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The competition between the 24-hour news channel of TV Globo (cable) and TV Record‘s RecordNews (free to air) has provoked a lot of comment here in Brazil. See

The Wall Street Journal has even dedicated a feature to the Tupi TV news wars.

But until now, the Mrs. and I have not had much of a chance to ask whether RecordNews is any good or not. It is watchable? Does it tell you what you need to know in order to survive your commute? We are starting to make it a morning ritual to watch a couple of segments from both São Paulo morning drive-time shows.

This morning, the two broadcasts were pretty much exactly the same: Exactly the same incidents reported on, treated exactly the same way. In a nearby semirural area, for example, a flash flood sweeps away a number of cars and deposits them several kilometers away. The two networks interview exactly the same disgusted but stoic and understandably slightly traumatized local resident.

It rained like the dickens last night and will probably rain like the dickens this evening as well. It tends to rain like the dickens here this time of year. This is good news for watchers of the region’s hydroelectric reserves and often very bad news for anyone who lives near a river or creek, in any sort of declivity, or on a steep hillside that has been stripped of vegetation in order to erect shanties.

What Globo had this morning that Record did not was the story of a 27-year-old São Paulo banker who apparently committed vehicular suicide on one of the local beltway highways yesterday.

Globo has the surveillance footage from the transit authority that shows the man pulling over to the shoulder, pausing for a few minutes, then pulling a 180 and starting to drive the wrong way down the marginal. After driving 4 km in this suicidal fashion, he eventually dies in a head-on collision with a truck.

Globo also had a facsimile of the man’s driver’s license. Provisional inference: Globo’s scoop probably derived from leak journalism, pure and simple — the fact that it has better connections at City Hall.

City Hall might want to be more careful about that relationship, however.

In December 2006, TV Globo Rio reporter José  Xavier Messias was charged with selling information he gleaned from law-enforcement sources as a reporter to the mafia, for an extra tax-free grand a month.


Whatever happened to that case? (One of its central figures, the former chief of the state judicial police, has parliamentary immunity now, having been elected to the state legislature. Apparently that immunity is effectively retroactive. Go figure.)

Record was featuring the Brazil Open tennis championship, which it broadcast live yesterday from the Costa de Sauipe, Bahia.

Record, meanwhile, surveys its viewership: “Are you receiving us?”

Para nós é muito importante saber como o sinal da Rede Record está chegando na sua residência.

It is very important to us to know how our signal is arriving at your home.

Neste momento em que buscamos a liderança, entregar para você a melhor imagem e som é uma de nossas prioridades.

At a moment in which we are seeking to take over leadership in the ratings, delivering the best possible sound and image to you is our top priority.

Ao responder as 9 (nove) perguntas a seguir, nossa equipe poderá enviar um e-mail, com finalidade de sanar alguma dúvida.

After responding to the following 9 (nine) questions, our team can send an e-mail for the purpose of answering any questions. 

Competitive bird-song imitation, RecordNews (Brazil)


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