The powder keg that is Palmeiras keeps many an individual busy, not least journalists. A few stand out from the rest due to their unbiased approach and personal integrity. In an exclusive interview for Anything Palmeiras, meet Danilo Lavieri – a special reporter covering Palmeiras for the Brazilian online news and entertainment portal iG.
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Anything Palmeiras: For how long have you been working as a sports journalist? And how long at iG?
Danilo Lavieri: For three years as a sports journalist and 13 months at iG, since September 2010.
AP: Are you in it mainly for the sports part or is it the journalistic part that triggers you?
DL: I became a journalist only for one reason: to do sports. I’m a frustrated football player who early realised I had no future on the pitch, something that made me think about other ways to make a living off football. I contemplated a career as referee after having concluded Physical Education, but ended up doing journalism – with a bit of encouragement from my uncle, who also is a journalist, although he didn’t really recommend me following that path.
AP: How are special reporters selected? I mean, how is it decided which journalist will be covering the daily life of which club?
DL: In my case, and already in the interview phase, the idea was to place me at Palmeiras. But there are no fixed procedures. And more: normally, there’s some kind of interchange, where colleagues swap positions every now and then.
AP: Describe a typical day at work (if there is anything that can be considered typical when it comes to Palmeiras…)
DL: You nailed it: there’s no typical day. But on a calmer day, I go to the Academia, assist the training session, take down some notes, then there’s generally a press conference. While putting together a text or several, I already start planning for the next day and those more specific topics that might include interviews with managers, former players… We need always to tap our sources in order to obtain first-hand information. As you can see, it’s busy, busy. Now imagine on days when there is something happening that really will make the headlines?
AP: Do you have easy access to players and the technical committee or are you “only” allowed to talk to people at pre-defined moments?
DL: That depends a lot on the player. Some you can reach on the phone after training. Others only talk after you’ve been in contact with the press office. There are no rules. But Palmeiras’ press office deserves a special mentioning, because they ALWAYS help us out, and a lot.
AP: You cover only Palmeiras or other topics as well?
DL: Normally, only Palmeiras. But on special occasions I might be transferred to other places to help out. For example, I’ve been to Las Vegas to cover a UFC event, as I have a good understanding of that sport as well. I’ve also worked at Libertadores Cup finals; I was present when Rogério Ceni scored his 100th goal (poor bastard… my comment); I’ve covered Paulista Championship finals; the last round of the Brazilian Championship… All of these are examples of moments when Palmeiras were not present. At mega-events like these, we all chip in, helping each other out.
AP: Due to the quality of your articles, you’ve gained the respect of many a palmeirense. You are in addition quite active in various social media, interacting with supporters. In your point of view, does this help you in your job? Could it potentially harm you and/or your work in any way?
DL: Thanks for the compliment! I work hard to obtain respect. I don’t focus on pleasing, that’s impossible. I seek respect and credibility. That’s what’s going to take me forward. Interacting in social media helps me a lot, as it puts me in direct contact with my readers. I learn where there are doubts in regard to a specific topic, where perhaps my texts could be clearer. This then creates added value to my texts. I enjoy it highly and I try to attend EVERYONE, without exception. Only the rude ones I leave behind. I believe (this interaction, my clarification) will never be harmful, as long as I keep in mind that I cannot always please. Sometimes, the news are bad.
AP: Many palmeirenses will claim that a lion’s share of the media is biased and seeks to harm Palmeiras when opportunity arises. Would you say that there’s any truth behind this claim, or is it just plain paranoia, similar to what many other supporters nourish?
DL: No! What happens is that there is more information on Palmeiras due to the inside political struggle that constantly harms the club. Palmeiras are more exposed and there is indeed more news on the behind-the-scenes at Palmeiras than in other clubs. However, this doesn’t mean that the media is out to get Palmeiras. Of course there are exceptions, but these (journalists, my clarification) disappear over time or never advance, as they lose credibility. But there are, as I said, bad exceptions everywhere.
AP: I’d like to elaborate a bit further on this “persecution”, be it real or not. For a long time I thought it was rubbish, but I’ve slowly revised my opinion. Not due to the “backstage news” – they are in fact mostly bad and need to be, as they reflect the reality of Palmeiras’ political landscape and amateurish administration – but for the (in my perception) tendency to treat everything related to Palmeiras as “half empty”, never “half full”. If Palmeiras win 1-0, the headlines read “almost 0-0”. Another example: much has been written about the cost-benefit of Valdivia, but almost nothing of the sort is to be found regarding Adriano or Luis Fabiano. Do you REALLY think that there is no tendency, in certain media vehicles, to stain Palmeiras when possible?
DL: Seriously, I think it all boils down to phases. Palmeiras are on a bad run, even victories are coming slim, ugly. Cost-benefit of Valdivia turns into headlines. But after all, in what way have the absences of Luis Fabiano and Adriano had a negative impact on São Paulo and Corinthians so far? Both teams are contenders to the title. The difference in relation to Valdivia is also that he has played but is not finding his rhythm, while the other two have not even stepped on the pitch (this interview was made shortly before Luis Fabiano made his first appearance). If they come on and early are injured again, surely they will generate headlines. As I said: there are always exceptions, but one cannot make a general statement.
AP: You think a sports journalist should at all costs avoid revealing which team he supports, or does it matter less if the fellow is competent and has integrity?
DL: I understand those who do not tell. I try not to, but let it slip sometimes. You know, supporters think with their hearts a lot. Even if a journalist has integrity, he might suffer from suspicion of supporters in case they know his preferences. Palmeiras supporters normally don’t complain about Mauro Beting, in the same way as a Corinthians supporter don’t complain about Chico Lang. But there are a lot of palmeirenses that won’t read a single line written by Juca Kfouri. For these reasons, I understand those who keep it private.
AP: And what about you, Danilo: are you comfortable sharing with us what team is to be found in your heart?
DL: In my heart? Sociedade Esportiva Jornalismo! (the Journalistic Sporting Society) *laughter*
AP: Nice one, Houdini. *laughter*. Now, finishing off: where and how do you see Palmeiras in five years’ time?
DL: Finally, Palmeiras will have the Arena. The political war that negatively influences the team’s performance will diminish. I believe that the Arena is the single factor that can put Palmeiras back on a winning path. If left to the war of egos within the club, the team will go nowhere.
AP: Danilo, thank you for your time and good luck in the future!
DL: Thanks for having me on your website. I also want to use this opportunity to thank every single person who reads my articles. And I want to specially thank those who message me, with courtesy, in social media. They might agree with me or not, but are always polite. Oh! How could I forget? Visit my blog and follow me on twitter. Thanks again for the opportunity. Feel free to interview me again; every journalist likes to change positions sometimes! *laughter*.