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Alumnus Creates Opportunities in Broadcast for Brazilian Students

Charlie Bragale

When Charlie Bragale, SOC/BA ’87, heads to Brazil each year, he’s technically on vacation from work at NBC’s channel 4 in Washington, “but it’s no vacation,” Bragale says. “We work hard.”

For the hard work that goes from early morning until the wee hours of the next during five days each year, Bragale and other news professionals leave their posts at American television stations for Casper Libero College in Sao Paulo, Brazil. There they teach Brazilian students how to produce American-style broadcast journalism.
 
“The workshop was put together eight years ago on a napkin at a restaurant in Sao Paulo,” Bragale says. He was on a post-9/11 trip to the region discussing with students how the tragedies of that time were covered in news locally.

Bragale and three other journalists – a producer, reporter and photojournalist – now travel annually to conduct broadcast journalism workshops on their own time. They lead morning and evening sessions, modeling each after a typical news day in the U.S. “We choose an executive producer, who chooses the assistant producer, editor, anchors, reporters and writers. Then we go around and the reporters pitch stories.”

The reporters go out, set up interviews, shoot stories and write them. Meanwhile, back at the school, the producer is lining up the show, choosing other stories, building a set and putting together graphics.

“We make it as realistic as possible with pressure, deadlines, stories crashing, breaking news,” Bragale says. Over the next three days, camera work is done, stories are written and students prepare to go on-air. On their final day together, the group presents the show to the college and holds a discussion on what they learned, what worked and what didn’t.

“All these kids are super eager to learn, and we’re giving them an opportunity to shine,” Bragale says. He has many fond memories of students he’s helped, including a very quiet young man he once chose as anchor. “He wouldn’t look at anyone. We made him over, and he was the star of the show,” says Bragale. At least one alumnus of the workshop program has since moved to the U.S. and landed a job in journalism.

Brazilian students aren’t so different from those in America – and at AU – says Bragale.  He grew up in the neighborhoods around AU, but his parents emigrated from Brazil. He hosts AU students as interns in his position as assignment manager for NBC4, and he’s thankful for the opportunities he had as an AU student.

Bragale fondly remembers one professor in particular, saying “Frank Jordan talked to us about ‘video text’ and ‘tele-text.’ That’s what they called the internet then. He was right on target, and I’ll never forget that.” Bragale still has books and notes from his classes with Jordan and says, “Sometimes I still read them and chuckle.”

As for the up-and-coming journalists he has as students and interns, Bragale says, “I always tell them: you can find all the information on the internet, but you’ll never replace meeting people in person, gaining trust and sources. Keeping in contact with people is very important.”