What the Newspaper ‘Granma’ Can Change / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

As of this Thursday, the official newspaper ‘Granma’ will have a new design with changes limited only to the visual. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 21 December 2016 — The newspaper Granma announced that as of tomorrow, in Thursday’s edition, it will debut a new design. For the peace of mind of the most orthodox, the note concludes by warning that “the official organ of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party is being renewed, but it will remain the same.”

The modifications refer to the alignment of the headlines, more readable typography, better composition of the front pages and greater prominence of photographs. According to the paper itself, its new design “is more compact, more modern, more contemporary, and cleaner.”

What is striking is that the intention “to look like current times” will be limited to the visual aspect. Apparently, the paper will not stop practicing secrecy, political debate will remain absent, and criticisms will never be directed towards the highest levels of power. No one will question the legitimacy of the rulers or the viability of the system.

The change of image will coincide with the date when, 55 years ago, the end of illiteracy in Cuba was proclaimed, but the directors do not seem to understand that what its readers require from this press organ is precisely a change of philosophy, of its essence, in order to leave behind “the conceptions of the founding era.”

Only a profound political illiteracy can come to the conclusion that a newspaper at the beginning of the 21st century should continue to be dogmatically governed by such narrow ideological guidelines.

Granma will continue to choose “positive” verbs, adjectives and adverbs for its national news and will select “negative” ones for the titles that refer to the rest of the world (excluding its allies). We will have to continue reading that in Cuba the harvests are growing, the goals are being exceeded, the programs are advancing without delays, meanwhile foreign economies are collapsing, unemployment only grows, and the richest intend to despoil the planet.

“The purpose of this redesign is to compete with ourselves and win,” confesses Granma in an act of utmost honesty. When an athlete runs alone on a track she always takes the trophies. It would be another kettle of fish if at the newsstands the readers could choose among several publications, if in citizens’ homes there were access to the internet and any digital news source that circulates in the world, without restrictions or censorship.

However, the notice that something changes is always welcome.