Challenges of the Cuban Press / Yoani Sanchez

“The newspaper was talking about you…” sings the voice of Joaquín Sabina, while I read the newspaper Granma. On the cover, as usual, there’s some event. A tribute to a figure from the past, a reminder, a phrase someone said forty or fifty years ago. All the pages have this rancid stink of journalism that doesn’t dare to address the present, that avoids the here and now.

The Cuban official press can’t reform itself because to do so would be committing suicide. To report on the national reality it would have to renounce its role as ideological propaganda. It’s not enough to change the design of its digital sites, add new signatures to its articles, or keep the readers’ letters complaining about bureaucrats and corruption. It must go further and shed its political commitments and take on the truth as its only obligation. But this… this we know it cannot do.

I expect more from the press that will emerge, or consolidate, than a “new official journalism.” But I am also aware that the work of reporting from civil society, precarious and illegal, has to improve. Information is not trench warfare and it is not a weapon. Events should not be reported from the point of view of what we want to have happened, but from what did happen.

For its part, thematic variety is not contrary to the defense of freedom and human rights. There are many ways of speaking, and of speaking beautifully. We must search, then, for ways of reporting that bring us closer to ordinary readers. Creativity, daring and diverse points of view help us to be better professionals of the press. Going down that path is worth it.

For my part, I’m taking the first steps. The countdown to the digital media I’ve been working on for four years has begun. A new professional challenge approaches, but I will not be alone; rather I will be accompanied by a team of talented people who want to do journalism with a capital J.

In the coming weeks this personal blog will be transformed—right in front of your eyes—into a media of the PRESS. Words of encouragement are welcome!

14 March 2014