Independent Newscast Faces Censorship

Ignacio González, journalist and director of En Caliente Free Press. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 21 March 2018 — The first memory that many have of Ignacio González was seeing him up to his waist in water reporting on the floods in Havana. Over the years, this independent journalist has narrated innumerable events of the Cuban reality through his YouTube channel and now he has released a newscast.

This week González launched En Caliente (In the Heat of the Moment), a self-financed news program that will be broadcast through social networks from the island with a weekly frequency. The space will address national and international news, but also topics of potential interest for young people, such as technology.

The director’s objective, as he explained in conversation with 14ymedio, is «to help Cubans see the news that is denied in the official media» and «to contribute a grain of sand to the information balance needed in every society.»

En Caliente aspires to be «its own product, prepared from the independent press and by those outside officialdom,» Gonzalez said, while adjusting the final details of the launch this Wednesday.

En Caliente will try to distance itself, through a modern and fully digital approach, from the sober official newscasts in which the speakers address the audience as if they were on a dais.

Years of work as a reporter have led González to take on the omitted topics, the rumors that try to fill the gap in news on many local and foreign topics.

The journalist is aware that poor internet connectivity, high costs and censorship contribute to Cubans’ misinformation. «It is very difficult and expensive to review one by one the news reports on the network or circumvent the censorship on the national servers against the independent press sites such as Cubanet, CiberCuba, OnCuba and 14ymedio in which there is abundant news, but are almost all blocked,» he laments.

The reporter aspires to offer a weekly summary, a kind of press review, with the most outstanding reports from these independent newspapers collected «in a brief and analytical way.»

The broadcast of each newscast will probably last between seven and eight minutes. González is committed to the viral distribution of material, through mobile phones and USB flash drives capable of counteracting the «computer illiteracy» of many who do not know «how to download a file from the network or how to use a VPN or a proxy.»

«The idea is to show something that is fast, striking and engaging,» says the director, optimistically.

The reporter will appear seated at a virtual table in setting different from what the audience knows now, more on-the-street and urban. Still with much left to «polish» in his new role, Gonzalez has in his favor that no director dictates what he can say and what he can not. It is, in its entirely, a newscast without scissors.

«This first edition is experimental to measure the reactions of the viewers,» says González. Infrastructure problems and the limited resources of a self-financed newscast for the moment, despite its being low cost, complicate the path.

«Little by little, the way the news is presented will be improved and changed, adding a dose of analysis and freshness,» he says, still optimistic.

«En Caliente will be developed responding to on-line comments,» he says. «He who does not take risks does not achieve his goals.»

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