In Mexico, I had very little contact with the reporters at Mexican papers and they were universally unhelpful when I sought them out to ask for contacts. So I was very pleasantly surprised when I got to Brazil and local reporters opened their contact books for me.
One of my first stories involved tracking down a Brazilian political campaign manager. I had no idea where to find him and so called Folha de S. Paulo. The reporter there, whom I didn’t know, couldn’t have been more helpful. He even gave me the subject’s home and mobile numbers.
For that reason I always try and help out local reporters when they need a quote or a photo of a foreign correspondent.
It happens quite often and has become more and more frequent recently, I think because I am in São Paulo, which is more cosmopolitan than Rio. (I was rarely asked to help out by O Globo.)
Last last year, I was featured in Folha’s Sunday magazine along with three colleagues from the foreign press corps (where we mostly complained about how expensive Sao Paulo is).
But my most recent experience was with January’s Gol inflight magazine. The magazine interviewed five foreigners living in SP and asked them what they most like doing in the city (click on the pdf above right to see the entire page).
The Gol reporter vetoed three of my suggestions of cycling, visiting cemeteries, and going to farmers’ markets and instead choose more mainstream ideas such as browsing English-language books at the Livraria da Cultura and visiting the dive bars of rua Augusta.
I’m not a huge fan of seeing my picture in the paper. But I learnt my lesson early. It’s not fair to ask local reporters for help if you won’t help them.