Decalogue From a Cuban Journalist for a Politician

If a journalist tends to shy away from something, it is press conferences, meetings, organized events and marches. (Pxhere)

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 23 March 2021

1. Forget about the murals you knew as a child, the press cannot be the space where you post at will ideas and calls for action. It is good that it be so, because there is a life and world beyond your party. Journalism must deal with many other things.

2. Generate news, but important news. If a journalist tends to shy away from something, it is press conferences, meetings, organized events and marches. Rarely does something newsworthy emerge from such events. So, jump into the news: run a marathon, overcome a problem, help others, provoke a change… Make a difference.

3. Brighten up your language. Journalists and editors are not here to amend your vocabulary, or even to look for synonyms if your expression is poor. If you do not like how your words are written, it may be time to take a public speaking course, to read, to dare or to seek an advisor. It’s not our fault.

4. No, what you have to say is not the most important thing. That’s what they told you in the old school of politics, but there are people suffering, triumphing and provoking changes that exceed you in importance. Accept it and get over it, because they are our goal and our reason for being as journalists.

5. Never say that they do not speak of you in the press or that the newspapers do not mention any of the marches, calls to action or meetings that you have mentioned. You may not realize it, but saying “they don’t mention me” only sinks you, makes you look like someone unimportant. Be proud and triumphant.

6. The intrigues, the scuttlebutt, will give you an audience for a short time, but politics is not a soap opera, and always trying to earn revenue from conflict will take its toll on you. Gossip sells only for a moment, but seriousness and perseverance last much longer.

7. When you are going to attack a journalist because you did not like her writing or because he didn’t repeat the sentences you wanted to read, you should know that we are not an easy or passive trade. We are going to shout with each of our cells, because when you touch one journalist you touch all the journalists.

8. If you want to offer anonymous information and demand discretion, you have every right to the protection that any source deserves. If a journalist violates this maxim, you have the absolute right to complain and call out their lack of ethics. But the same is true in reverse. Do not seek complacent silence when you did not specify that it was a secret.

9. If you don’t want to be criticized, don’t talk. Every time you speak a sentence you will be subjected to public scrutiny. That is neither right nor wrong: it is what it should be. Only the person who does not take sides remains outside the diatribe, so thicken your skin and stop complaining about how the press treats you.

10. If you are looking for complacent and servile journalists, you will have to make your own “official press,” a sounding board for your words. The democratic game includes the corrosive acid of the media. You don’t like it? Castroism prolonged a way of making you feel more comfortable… but it is called dictatorship.