When Monica Chang She took the bus, she became ‘Wonder Woman’. She saved a man from serious burns and gave herself up as a hostage to rescue a girl when she was just 21 years old. ‘China’ Chang, the ‘Erotic Journalist’, as she was known, became an icon of police journalism when she was just an intern at Frecuencia Latina. She seemed to be afraid of death.
At 60 years old, Chang is no longer dedicated to journalism. It’s been two decades since she left the media. Despite this, they still tend to recognize her on the street from her reports on ’90 seconds’ or from her program ‘Let’s talk clearly’, as she pointed out. La República spoke with the former host about what led her to leave television and if there is a possibility of her returning to TV.
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-What do you currently do? It’s been 20 years since he left television
―I have a project away from television, which is actually very similar because I am like the intermediary of two worlds. When I was a reporter, I was practically between the State, the rulers and the people. Now it is my turn as a businesswoman to be among a group of artisans who live in the remote areas of Lima; I work with them and with the consumers of their work. If it weren’t for me, there wouldn’t be that link. That’s what I love about my job, because it’s a lot like what I did as a journalist. I don’t think I’ll change the project because it’s what I have to do now.
―He was one of the main figures of Frecuencia Latina, why did he leave the channel?
-It was very hard. Things went wrong. First, Mr. Baruch Ivcher did not know what had happened to me. He had problems with the owner of the channel. The channel had a problem between the partners, the owners. I always appreciated Ivcher, but also Mendel Winter, who was his partner. He knew them both. Ivcher, before leaving, tells me: ‘Take care of the channel.’ But, unfortunately, they tell him lies. For example, they told him that the day the Winters came in I received them with palms in my hands, banners and what not. He never saw the passport. The day Winter came on the channel I was in the United States, I was not in Peru. They lied to him and he couldn’t corroborate it.
The new administration simply tells him lies and when he realizes it, he calls me. I tell him the truth, but it was too late, I was already with my venture, he was happy. He even offers me to come back. They have offered me twice to return to the channel. But I told them no. I think one also has a cycle. I mean, spending 20 years on television is quite a lot, they were very intense years. He didn’t sleep, he didn’t eat, he didn’t live. He was working all the time.
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My company is also more than 20 years old because I worked simultaneously. I had my programs and at the same time my business, which was small. I didn’t have the workshop that I have now, but it was already (working) and it has accompanied me. It’s something I say a lot to journalists. Journalism is a very beautiful career, very sacrificed, but in the end it is very poorly paid. It is not very profitable to be a journalist, it is like doing a service to the country, to the community, because you make an effort, you put your life at risk.
—Did you have the opportunity to work at Panamericana to replace Laura Bozzo? Why didn’t she accept it?
―At Frecuencia Latina I was a reporter for ’90 seconds’, just a reporter. One day the owner of Panamericana Televisión, Mr. Schutz, calls me to his office and proposes that I do a program in Laura Bozzo’s place. That is, replace it and lead the program in Panamericana. I told Frecuencia Latina, which had that proposal, and the channel told me: ‘Wait, don’t give up, we’re going to make you a counterproposal.’ This is how they gave me a daily program, which was called ‘Let’s speak clearly’.
-Why did you stop being a reporter despite the recognition you had for this work?
―What happens is that I can no longer dedicate myself to the topic of television because my son was little when in the last commission they almost killed me in Callao. It was a very shocking event and my son, crying, told me not to be a reporter anymore. So, I retire from the news, from journalistic work, from the streets, because it is very dangerous.
I went from being a reporter to being on everyone’s lips (for hosting the talk show), to having people chasing me for an autograph. It was an experience. Since she was a reporter, she believed that in the talk show all the programs were real. But I discovered that it was quite a school. There were cases that were true, but there were also unscrupulous people who dedicated themselves to lying or inventing cases to appear on television. They were incredible actors. They even fooled me. What I am left with are the 18 years of being a reporter that I was. That’s what people value.
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-Do you plan to return to television? Have you received any proposals from any media?
-Yes, I have received proposals. But not. On television, no. It’s very difficult for him to return to TV. What you could do is make comments on networks or give interviews. But now I am in a very pleasant moment in my life. I am a happy grandmother. I have a grandson who is my happiness. I am 60 years old and I am happy to have a nice job in Peru.
Now I’m retired, I shouldn’t be working anymore, but I have a lot of energy (…). Doing a different type of television program doesn’t attract me that much either. Plus, I have to travel. This year I have a trip to Alaska, I want to travel there. As a journalist, I couldn’t. So, the first thing I do when a channel offers me a job is say ‘I have to travel’, and that’s where the problem comes. Honestly, I don’t see it as viable.
―In the last interviews, you have indicated that you are attentive to the current situation in the country. Have you thought about trying in the political field?
—Nooo, not there. I work from my trench: my company. No, nothing like that. I am critical of the role of politicians. They have to change. They have made me proposals, but, in life, no.
-How do you see Magaly Medina’s work? They were university classmates
-Very good. That seems fine to me. I don’t have much time to watch television simultaneously, but I watch it later on YouTube or review the news. But I follow her, I respect her work.