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As Globo Goes, Is Bonner a Goner?


Source: Diário do Centro do Mundo

Topic: The Tropical Dan Rather

Willian Bonner is an ingrate.

He recently complained publicly about the social networks while receiving a prize from [fellow Globo talking head] Faustão.

I mean, the guy has more than 6 million followers on Twitter, where he presents himself as “Uncle” and has recently begun posting from behind the scenes of the Jornal Nacional evening news broadcast on Facebook.

If Bonner wants to complain about someone, he should complain about the TV viewers, not the internauts.

The Jornal, which Bonner anchors, has been steadily hemorrhaging audience. In 1996, when Bonner joined the program, its IBOPE stood at 40 points.

Since then, half of that audience has turned its attention elsewhere, and as I write this more and more are abandoning the JN.

Currently, the JN tries to maintain 20 points, but it is a battle fought in vain, given the voracity with which the Internet advances on all media fronts, including television.

Bonner and his JN have been abandoned by millions in recent years, and will continue to be abandoned in the years to come.

The show and its mastermind, Ali Kamel, are the most abject losers in Brazilian TV, though it should be acknowledge that the market had more to do with this than did the competence of either.

The future looks complicated for every journalist that work in offline media, and that goes for Bonner as well.

How long can Globo afford to pay the kinds of salaries it pays Kamel and Bonner to produce the Jornal Nacional?

The answer is: as long as the ad revenue holds out. But that only raises another question: how long will  advertisers continue to spend millions on a declining medium?

What will be the tipping point? When advertisers say: I am paying a great deal for an old and decadent medium?

It is too early to guess.

I imagine that this will happen when the audience sinks to single digits, but it could be sooner, of course.

In general, the advertisers are subject to the so-called herd effect. One pulls out and the rest follow.

That is what is happening at the Abril group.

Recently, L’Oreal, a long-time advertiser in the company’s women’s magazine division, announced it would no longer advertise in the press.

Based on simple math, it appears that Bonner will [soon] have a larger audience on Twitter than on the Jornal Nacional.

One point of IBOPE, in São Paulo, is equal to 60,000 homes. IBOPE maintains – without a shred of evidence – that there are three TV viewers in every home.

Nota bene: On the Internet, you measure individuals, one by one.  On TV, you use an obviously inflated estimate, and the same goes for magazines and newspapers.

During my time at Abril, we used a metric – who knows where it came from – according to which each copy was read by at least four persons. We pretended to believe it, and the ad agencies pretended to believe it – and we were all very happy in our blissful ignorance of how shaky was the ground we were on.

According to IBOPE, in São Paulo, the JN, with 20 points, is viewed in 1.2 million homes. Even if you accept the rate of three audience members per domicile, you come away with 3.6 million viewers.

This is a little more than half the number of  Bonner followers on Twitter. São Paulo is not a national market, it is true, but it makes up a fair share of it.

On the Globo Web site, it says that the JN is viewed daily by 25 million Brazilians.

But if you believe that, as Wellington said, you will believe anything.

Bonner should be more grateful to his internaut friends.

At some future point, not far away, his career will depend on them and them alone.

His situation reminds me a little of Dan Rather at this point in his career. After leaving CBS, Rather went digital on AXS TV with a weekly one-hour show, Dan Rather Reports.

A guest contributor on The Chris Matthews Show and on The Daily Show, Rather has formed an independent company called News and Guts Media and is reported to be working on a book.

I cannot tell from Wikipedia how fresh this information is.

But this career management strategy — individualize the central talking head and heroicize his or her ethical attributes to maximize viewer identification with and admiration of that talking head, and seek multiple points of public exposure.

“News and guts” is a clever and effective moniker that fits Rather fairly well.

I think back to Rather’s whispered reports from the Afghan mountains, chilling  with the mujaheddin, in  the late 80s, I think it was.

That was the guts side of the equation — the guts Judith Miller of the New York Times tried to display during her quest for the WMDs of Saddam Hussein.

The reporter steps out from behind the camera and is seen to be playing a role in the events unfolding.

Globo plays this game constantly with its viewers — abandon objectivity and insert the reporter in the event in a favorable light. The following cartoon by Latuff illustrates the spectacularization that is the daily bread of the Silver Venus.


Meanwhile, in Santa Maria: «What is the mood like here?»

I think of this as the “infotainment” effect — Fantástico, on Sunday night, is a bizarre mix of hot-button news interviews and reports and pure celebrity-driven pabulum.

How else to make sense of the career of Pedro Bial, who lists his career as “journalist”?

The man hosts Big Brother Brasil, for goodness sake!

This is a bit like Walter Cronkite hosting The Price is Right.

In addition to which Bial also serves as a trustee of the Instituto Millenium, a carbon-copy neocon Cato Institute clone and talking head factory for Lusophones, subsidized by the Grupo Abril and the Estado de S. Paulo.

It is interesting to watch these network-building strategies at work.

The Atlas Network, for example, provides a primer for neoliberal NGOs in the form of a «primer».

Screenshot from 2014-12-23 18:00:37

Its efforts appear focused heavily on Latin America. Social network analysis helps to detect and confirm the employment of these techniques. Most nodes seem relatively inactive.