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Q&A with Calle2's Ana Magalhães: Bringing new Latin American perspectives to Brazil

Q&A with Calle2's Ana Magalhães: Bringing new Latin American perspectives to Brazil

Julie Schwietert Collazo | January 07, 2016

When journalist Ana Magalhães left her position as a reporter at the Brazilian daily Folha earlier this year, she did what many of her North American counterparts have been doing recently: defecting from print to launch an independent, self-funded, online publication.

For Magalhães, the choice was relatively simple. Along with her co-founders, journalists Guilherme Soares Dias and Julio Simões, and programmer Bruno Cavenaghi, Magalhães had a dream of “creating an original, independent and unique publication.” It was no mere vanity project; Magalhães says traditional Brazilian journalism tends to overlook the most interesting human stories of Latin America. Additionally, with newspapers shrinking pages and staff, there's less space to tell those stories.

Enter Calle2, which Magalhães and her team launched on November 25. Written in Portuguese and publishing weekly, Magalhães says Calle2 fills a void and intends to achieve a much bigger goal: Brazil's journalistic and cultural integration with its Spanish-speaking neighbors in the region. IJNet spoke with Magalhães via email about the new publication.

IJNet: Can you give us an overview of Calle2?

Ana Magalhães: There are seven sections of the magazine: society, tourism, culture (film, literature and gastronomy), sports, photography, analysis (economic and political) and people. We publish between three and five articles every Wednesday. We don't have video yet, but it's part of our longer-term plan.

There are many different topics we cover. We've published an article analyzing the presidential victory of comedian Jimmy Morales in Guatemala, making a comparison to two politicians in Brazil who were also made famous by TV. One of them, Tiririca, is also a comedian and was the representative with the highest vote in Brazil. That article attempted to answer the question: What explains this phenomenon? Is it the lack of credibility within the political class? Is it an anti-political vote? Is it an indication of the power of television?

How did the idea for Calle2 develop? What void does it intend to fill within Brazilian journalism?

We had been reading and examining other Latin American publications we admire a lot, such as Etiqueta Negra and Gatopardo [and] we realized that there are many great stories in Latin America, but they rarely gain space in the traditional press in Brazil. 

Press and news agencies barely publish current events and big news out of Latin America; what they do cover comes primarily from Venezuela, Cuba and Argentina. [Brazil] lacked a publication that looked at the region with a new, fresh perspective, one that privileged the day-to-day issues, the people, cultural manifestations and singularities that make Latin America one of the most fascinating regions of the world.

What is the core goal of Calle2?

Calle2 is a digital magazine whose primary objective is to offer a new view of Latin America. We cross borders to profile surprising people, places, colors and flavors that make Latin America so interesting. 

In this magazine, you'll find unusual tourist destinations and dishes, streets and towns that aren't well known and, especially, people and ideas that are committed to building a better Latin America.

Through our articles, essays, interviews, profiles, reports, photo essays and analyses, we intend to share positive stories of the region, as well as injustices of an area that still has so much inequality.

How would you describe the state of journalism in Brazil now?

As is the case everywhere in the world, traditional means of journalism are being contested by the Internet. As a result, we see newspapers decreasing the number of pages, laying off journalists and reducing coverage. Additionally, we're seeing traditional magazines, such as Playboy, closing down entirely. On the other hand, it's good news that there's a boom of independent journalism projects here, such as ours.

You have said that you see Brazil as a country that really isn't part of Latin America, even though it's part of the geographical formation of that region. Could you talk about that a bit more, especially as it relates to Calle2?

When I was living in Madrid, working on my political science degree, I made lots of Latino(a) friends. And curiously, when we went out, they'd talk about music, films and writers I didn't even know. It was during this time that I realized that the rest of the Latin American countries are fairly well-integrated with one another, especially with respect to their shared culture.

Brazil is such a large country and it has such a rich cultural life that we seem to be content with dedicating ourselves to disseminating this richness internally — we read Brazilian writers, we listen to Brazilian music. It's interesting — there's no Argentinean or Chilean music on our radio stations — just British, North American and Brazilian groups. In this sense — the culture — it seems to us that Brazil still has a lot to discover with respect to our neighboring countries.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Main image is a screenshot of Calle2's homepage.

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