Gabriel Shinohara is a news intern in Bloomberg’s Brasília Bureau. While attending Universidade de Brasília, he has been covering politics and economics in the Brazilian capital for news conferences, congressional hearings, and public speeches of government officials.
One of my favorite experiences during my time as a Bloomberg intern happened within a few weeks on the job. I fell right in front of one of Brazil’s most powerful senators, Renan Calheiros! At the time, Calheiros served as leader of the nation’s biggest political party, the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, or PMDB.
Amid a storm within his party, some members wanted Calheiros to give up his leadership role. I and several other journalists waited outside his office hoping to catch up with him for an impromptu interview — or, as we say in Brazil, a “quebra queixo,” which means “break chins,” because these events usually involve so many microphones forced near the person that the ensuing frenzy could break his/her chin.
Calheiros came out and all the reporters immediately began shouting questions. With cameras flashing and people calling out for his attention, it was almost as if a pop star had been spotted on the street. He fielded a few questions, but his responses mostly served to evade them. He was surrounded by more than a dozen reporters as he tried to walk from his office to the floor of the Senate.
I found myself in a vulnerable position. I was crouched down, trying to record what he was saying while also avoiding an appearance on the TV cameras fixed on him. When the crowd began walking I tried to follow, but immediately failed. I fell to the ground — while I certainly saw the humor in this situation, I was also quite embarrassed. Then, unexpectedly, a hand extended to help me back to my feet. It was none other than the hand of the PMDB’s Senate president.
Not just another day on the job
This is just one of the many unforgettable experiences I’ve had during my Bloomberg internship. Within my role I frequently have authentic interactions with leaders at the center of power in my country. While studying journalism in graduate school will undoubtedly have a major effect on my career, the benefits of also working on some of the most important news here is immeasurable. I think Bloomberg is the only place that could provide me with such fulfilling opportunities.
Another memory that stands out was when I was covering a rally in front of the Congress building. Union activists were protesting proposed labor and pension reforms and a general strike broke out across the country. I arrived early and decided to walk the entire Esplanada (the avenue in front of Congress) to get my bearings and see what was happening. On my walk I saw only a few dozen protesters, but noticed that the National Force had already gathered to guard the ministries in what appeared to be disproportionate numbers.
Fortunately I work with experienced editors at Bloomberg who are always willing to provide insight and guidance on how best to do my job, so in an email I described the scene to them, seeking guidance on how best to proceed. They quickly responded and, using the information I gathered during the protest, we collaborated to get out what would be the story of the day in Brazil. Thanks to the support I receive from the news team and their efforts to direct me to the right places and help me ask the right questions, I’ve yet to have a bad day at work.
Always learning and growing
Covering politics in Brasília has been my goal since I decided to be a journalist, but I never thought I’d be meeting this goal so early in my career. It certainly has been the experience of a lifetime.
I work for a dynamic organization and every day is different. I’m constantly learning from my co-workers and colleagues. In my time at Bloomberg I’ve learned how to interview congressional leaders and other influential individuals, asking the important questions and avoiding what’s not important. I’ve also gained a much better understanding of my country’s congressional processes and how our government works.
This isn’t the kind of education you get in a classroom; it comes from covering the actions of Congress and the Palácio do Planalto, Brazil’s equivalent to the White House. On a daily basis I speak with senators, ministers and deputies, gaining an understanding of their upcoming agendas and how they’ll shape the future. The notes I take feed into stories that people around the world rely on to make informed decisions. Also, getting to see the president on a regular basis is a nice perk and something I would have never dreamed I’d be doing as an intern.