14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 14 March 2018 — “Hey, since when do you have wifi that you don’t buy my newspaper,” shouts a street vendor to a young woman walking along Tulipan Street in Havana. Despite the continuing monopoly of the Cuban press by the Communist Party, readers today have more news options thanks to the growing number of independent publications.
The road to get to this point has not been easy. In the process, thousands of articles were set aside unpublished, hundreds of careers in journalism were truncated, and an infinite number of stories never got told; but the main transformation in today’s news recipients is that they are increasingly demanding.
Long gone are the years when it was enough to tune into some prohibited station and listen to a citizen relating some complaint in their own voice through those microphones. Now, the information industry is expected to produce high quality professional work and to address a broader range of topics, among many other demands.
On this March 14, Cuban Press Day, we journalists, editors and media directors must be aware that our audience is watching us, that there is someone who is fed up with propaganda and expects to find the data to form their own opinion. They have not come to our site to read a manifesto, but rather a newspaper.
Journalists, editors and media directors must be aware that our audience is watching us, that there is someone who is fed up with propaganda and expects to find the data to form their own opinion
These readers can now choose between watching the news on state television or on the prohibited satellite dishes. They have in their hands the ‘weekly packet,’ with independent magazines in PDF format, news coming to them in text messages, and many listen to the traditional “lip radio” – news and gossip repeated face-to-face – to find out what is rumored on the streets.
Despite the high costs of web browsing, they also learn about news “published on the Internet” through acquaintances. When an official newspaper publishes a cryptic editorial, mentioning enemies or provocations, they appeal to a friend to help them read between the lines and fill in the references.
Censorship is not enough to explain certain news deficiencies that still persist in the nation, and repression should not be the justification to accommodate oneself to mediocrity. What we have suffered, the personal and social cost that each journalist has paid to perform his or her work, should not be a reason for lack of quality or boldness.
Readers, those severe judges who observe us, will not be convinced by our pain or by the wounds we have accumulated in our sides, but by the value and the veracity of the stories we tell.
The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.