Someone who knows this reminded me not long ago of Ben Bradlee’s definition – the editor of the Washington Post who changed the course of journalism thanks to the ‘Watergate’ scandal – to explain what working at a newspaper entailed: ‘Being a journalist – He affirmed – it is like being in the “VIP” box of a theater, from which you can see in a privileged way the representation of reality ».
And so it is. From said box one does not see everything (never, not even in the smallest events, you see everything), but you see much more than the people who are in the audience: You see the event that triggers the plot, you see the orchestra pit , see part of the stage, see the reaction of the public. But although being in that privileged place helps, it does not guarantee you anything: there are people who, even if they have the best seat in the world, will never know how to appreciate anything, be it the timbre of a contralto voice or the exquisite diction of the actor.
Because that’s what it’s worth. The editors of INFORMATION, for a lot of years, have had the best possible location to see what is happening in this province, but then you have to know how to explain it. And is that the journalist is someone who is required to write every day, generally about something that happened a few moments ago, surely without having all the data in full, and with the obligation to hurry as much as possible: that is, land subscriber so that the error and the mistake take place.
And we assume the greatest: of course we made mistakes in the past, we do it in the present and we will do it in the future. But what we aspire to in the next 75 years – with the permission of our publisher, Javier Moll, who has spent a whopping thirty-two years providing this company with the best financial, technical and human resources – is to continue making mistakes (and correct: nobody reaches the three-quarters of a century by chance €) fully and professionally, and with the highest possible criteria.
And it is difficult, because the Spanish journalistic sector faces decisive years. In addition to the harsh economic crisis is our digital revolution, to which no one has definitive answers. And contradictory signals are emitted: in the world the reading of written press decreases, but the owner of Amazon buys the Washington Post; the offer of information portals in the network is infinite, but it is the digital editions of the traditional headers that get the most Internet users; fewer newspapers are sold, but radio and television newsrooms continue to organize their work based on what is published in them. Nobody doubts that the future (and the present) is digital, but nobody is capable today – as it seemed so clear ten years ago – of putting an expiration date on the printed newspaper.
If all this is true, current reality, technological advances and the consumption habits of the new generations force us to continue with an impressive transformation. And when I say imposing, I mean that it imposes and gives vertigo, like any self-respecting transformation. And it is that even today, many of us who work in this sector have not taken off the face of fright, and it is understandable: in Spain, the press lived its golden age from the late seventies until well into this new century. Almost thirty years of uninterrupted growth –both in its copy sales figures, as well as in its advertising turnover– made newspapers secure sites for shareholders and stable for workers, which allowed them to achieve working and profitable conditions envied by the rest of sectors. But it was in the mid-2000s that the model showed symptoms of exhaustion.
The arrival of the economic crisis, the explosion of the internet, the appearance of «smartphones» and «tablets», and technological advances in data transmission did the rest. Although we provide a public service – the right to accurate information – this is provided – there are public radio and television stations in democratic states, but not state-owned newspapers – by private companies. And as such companies, the newspaper industry began to suffer the same ups and downs as ordinary mortals: adjustments, ERES and investment cuts became part of the jargon of the sector (where there were notable differences in the application of these measures ) to keep companies afloat. All of us, therefore, began to live less calmly (although “calm” is not an adjective applicable to a newspaper, because here, calm, calm, there is never anyone: neither the director, nor the manager, nor the editors, nor The advertisers. The present time makes the sky collapse on our heads several times throughout the day, and rises as many more €).
At the same time and as if that were not enough, the sector also suffered a “mental” crisis, or an identity crisis, if you will: great figures of national journalism, of all colors, ruled the end of an era and of a way of living the profession , transferring at the same time their impression (sometimes unconsciously and without malice; and other times, not so much ..) that one era ended (theirs, of course: magnificent, glorious, vibrant and independent) and another began (they did not say so). , but they made it clear that it would be neither so magnificent, nor so glorious, nor so vibrant nor so independent). They implied that we were entering a more commodified, vile and amorphous era where all of us (the newspapers) would sell our souls to the devil by the “clicks” of the kitten videos or the visits that the “chat” with the last contestant of Big Brother.
Well, I disagree, Your Honor, for the record. Among other things, because my salary goes for it, naturally. But also because, first, the possibility of giving information of low or terrible quality in exchange for large sales has always existed, and there are plenty of examples. And second, I think I am not mistaking the truth if I say that the current information offer is greater than it has ever existed: traditional headlines, pure digital newspapers, social networks, digital televisions, radio podcasts, weekly anti-system magazines. Of all colors, of all signs, of all trends. Today it is much easier (and cheaper) to edit, publish, record. The current problem is to discern, to choose well, to separate the grain from the chaff, to filter the trash among so many options.
And in that the journalists will have a lot to do and a lot to say. Our success depends on their ability to adapt (to new formats, to new media, to new languages, to the correct interpretation of the metrics provided by the internet), since it will mean that their headers will remain strong, profitable and solvent: true and the only necessary condition (which is not enough, because then it is necessary to apply talent, creativity and trade) to be able to continue looking into this privileged “VIP” box, and to be able to tell them in the most complete and professional way possible what is happening in this province. Like yesterday, like today and like tomorrow.