07 May

Camila - No news today

Placed on Thursday, 07 May 2015 by Publistat

Waitress Camila


Newspaper density is low in Portugal, a fact that is also explained by the relatively high rate of illiteracy - more than ten percent - compared with the rest of Europe. Nevertheless the key medium in the country remains the weekly magazine Expresso, founded in 1973 under the old regime that would fall one year later during the Carnation Revolution. It was and still is politically independent and this style of journalism apparently also influenced quality daily newspapers like Público - founded in 1990 by former Expresso editors - and the well-established Diário de Notícias. Regional papers play next to no role whatsoever, but the Catholic Church does: its stations RFM and Rádio Renascença have the largest broadcast reach.

I had met her in the Clube de Jornalistas, where - of course - I was having dinner and she was waiting tables. And we meet again for a cup of coffee, the next day. Camila is Brazilian, emigrated 8 years ago. 'But people think I'm Russian or from the Ukraine because I'm blond and have blue eyes.'

But do you have their accent?
'No, but nevertheless.'

A special girl she is, or should I say woman: she had just become mother. Little Pedro is keeping a close eye on me from his pram.
'I don't watch TV, I don't read the news. For 10 years already. I don't want other people to decide what is news and what I should hear. When I want to know something, I want to find out in my own time, my own way. On the internet, for example. What is really affecting my life, I want to know, but most news doesn't affect my life. The price of baby food, for example. If there's something going on about it, I don't need to read it in the newspapers, I will see it in the shop and I will have to pay anyway.'

Pedro seems to disagree and throws his teat on the floor, something he would repeat some more times. 'When people around me complain about the crisis, I'm not interested at all. "You need to know," people say. But why? I have to pay taxes or the bus fare anyway, whether I know about the issue or not.' She thinks for a while. 'I would like a newspaper that has only good news, but I'm afraid that not many people would be interested.'

I tell her about The Optimist, formerly known as Ode, a Dutch/American magazine, with a special definition of news: it is something that is new. So a war, or a crisis cannot be news...
She says she will subscribe to it. And Pedro smiles.

Mark SchalekampWriter and journalist Mark Schalekamp travels the EU for his project Youropeans. In every city he interviews a doctor, barber, an immigrant, a prostitute, local celebrity, police officer, businessman and an artist. And he shares his view on the media landscape for Publistat.