tocaia The case Arraes-Cultura suggests a reflection about "ambush interview" in the TV

This is a difficult matter, therefore it demands a debate covering the Brazilian journalism. The person is invited to talk about determined subjects and, during the interview the person receives an attack of a torpedo which was hidden in the "bush". Journalists discuss that the previous explanation of subjects to be discussed during the interview (a part of it is always informed to the person), cannot be invoked as a rigid contract, and, in fact, it is very common that other subjects, more interesting, be discussed.

Although the statements above are true, the hard game behind the scene may have some traps built-in. One of these traps consists in attracting the person with a request for an interview about themes that have no interest to the reporter. In fact, he wants to ask questions about subjects that, if previously informed, would give the person a change to prepare the answers or escape. The reporter has the privilege to research, set the trap, and force the person to maintain his equilibrium. It is a rite of spontaneity which is ignored in a number of matters in the TV, where the scene is prepared to make things seem natural, but which were, in fact, rehearsed.

One example of this kind of interview was performed at TV Cultura in São Paulo with Pernambuco Governor, Miguel Arraes, who was invited to participate in the program Opinião Nacional, to talk about his region, the Northeast, drought and relationship with the Federal Government. However, he was caught red-handed, when he was shown a videotape prepared by historian Luiz Mir, accusing him of unjust enrichment during exile. The accusation is on the book A Revolução Impossível, published by Mir 18 months ago. This angered the Governor who left immediately. The director of journalism, Marco Nascimento, apologized and the interlocutor, Rodolfo Gamberini, resigned.

Nine in ten Brazilian journalists believe that "a question is not an offense", and that it would be unacceptable to provide previous information about the questions for an interview with a public person. This point justifies a reflection to seek for a correct rule. American journalists have discussed intensively this subject. The camera, according to some press executives, makes the difference.

A bombastic question made by a reporter with a tape recorder or with a pen does not produce the same effect when this is done in front of a TV camera focusing the face of the person. In the book "Groping for Ethics in Journalism", by H. Eugene Goodwin, which is one of the best research works prepared in the United States about this subject, the trap is accepted for private villains and public persons under investigation, however, if the interview is to be presented in the TV, this should be discussed. (The Americans also consider an "ambush", when the reporter, with a camera, surprises or persecutes a person in the streets).

Some incisive opinions stimulate the discussion. Ellen Goodman, columnist of Boston Globe, considers the "ambush interview" in the TV " a way to force a person to witness against himself". Fred Friendly, former president of CBS Television network and former professor of the University of Columbia, declared that this kind of interview is "the dirtiest artifice of journalism in the TV".