The largest name of world journalism brings to Brazil the project that goes beyond a TV station
By: Adalberto Leister Filho
Big Mac had been successful in Australia and Japan for eight years when the Brazilian public came to know the composition of two hamburgers, lettuce, cheese, special sauce, onion and pickles. The international expansion of McDonald’s, an American restaurant chain created in the 1940s, only met Brazil in the Rio de Janeiro summer of 1979.
There was much speculation about receptivity to another country’s eating habits. The solution was simple: use the formula of excellence to make a product by Brazilians for Brazilians. A year later, media entrepreneur Ted Turner opened the world’s first news channel in Atlanta: “Cable News Network”. CNN arrived to change the concept of journalism in the world. It grew, branched out in dozens of countries, and started flirting with Brazil. Like the brand from the same country, it waited to land here. And who is behind the arrival of CNN Brazil ensures: it is the right time, the right way. The secret for the model to work is using the formula of excellence to make a product by Brazilians for Brazilians.
For an industry shrinking and eroded by periodic layoffs, the company’s arrival and strategy emerge as the best news for Brazilian journalism in recent years. Go Where Business had exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the new company and got to know the Brazilian version of the world’s premier news channel, which promises to vie for a niche dominated by GloboNews. CNN Brazilians work today at a temporary headquarters in the Jardins neighborhood of São Paulo, but are preparing to relocate in the coming months. The venue was handpicked: an iconic building on Avenida Paulista, the most important avenue of the largest city in Latin America. “We thought of offering a different experience to the public: our headquarters in the center of the country’s largest city, close to the people,” says Douglas Tavolaro, Founder and CEO of CNN Brasil, hoping the building’s facade will be a new tourist spot in São Paulo’s main avenue. ”
Work is at a rapid pace on the mezzanines of the former Banco Real building. Workers work on the two-story adaptation of the space in front of the Trianon-Masp subway station in the financial heart of Sao Paulo. When in operation, there will be 4,000 m² of area, with 800 m² for three studios where the newscasts of the station will be presented. The project foresees the construction of one of the most modern newsrooms in the country, those “editorial offices-studios” used in TV news, such as Jornal Nacional.
William Waack and Evaristo Costa, leading names in Brazilian television journalism, have already been hired. Mari Palma, Phelipe Siani and Luciana Barreto, new talents from Grupo Globo, were also announced. According to Tavolaro, other names known to the general public will be announced soon. This cast of presenters will join a team of 400 journalists (700 employees in all) in a highly contested selection. A few days after announcing an email address for candidates to apply for working at the future station, CNN Brasil received over 35,000 resumes. “There will be 24 hours of journalism, 16 hours of which with live programming,” says the CEO.
In addition to its headquarters, CNN Brasil will have newsrooms in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro, as well as correspondents in London and New York, promising special coverage in major cities around the world with broadcast signals exclusive to CNN International. The reverse will also occur, according to the plans of the Brazilian team: CNN Brazil reporters will enter live or in special reports in English, when the topic is of interest abroad to CNN present in more than 200 countries. A showcase never seen before in national journalism.
The daring project aims not only to compete with GloboNews, but also to transform the Brazilian subsidiary into the main CNN outside the United States. And the first moves led Americans to believe in the goal. A top CNN International team was in São Paulo in late July and was delighted with the level of professionalism found. It was the last of several trips made in the technical consulting process to set up CNN Brasil.
The quick planning and the execution of an operation that began in February has impressed those accustomed to similar deployments in more developed countries. “It is an important exchange of experiences. A group of super-skilled executives from Atlanta, New York, and London have contributed to the setting-up the channel,” says Américo Martins, Vice President of Content at CNN Brasil, hired after spending 16 years at BBC London, another major worldwide news channel.