14ymedio, Havana, November 4, 2023 — On Friday, the second day of the Cuban Journalists Union (Upec) congress, the leitmotiv was the word ’crisis’. Crisis of the “socialist press model,” economic crisis of the media and, of course, the deep depression of salaries, the delegates enumerated. The solution to get out of the financial quagmire: “open the doors to advertising and sponsorship.”
If the first part of the event was supervised by Rogelio Polanco, head of the Ideological Department of the Communist Party, the second – where more delicate issues were debated – required the supervision of its first secretary — and the Island’s president– Miguel Díaz-Canel. The relationship of dependence between the political body and the official press has been emphasized, like a mantra, in all the meetings of the congress.
Ricardo Ronquillo – ratified this Friday as president of Upec – defined the problems that his organization will have to confront from now on, and the role it intends to assume in Cuban society. His plan is to “conceive the media as a control mechanism in the absence of the credibility that affects the sector” and launch “professional reorientation courses due to the exodus of human resources.”
Ronquillo promised Díaz-Canel that, in his search for financial oxygen, the “economic character and the symbolic character” of the press would not come into contradiction
In a context in which “the media lost their economic management,” Ronquillo promised Díaz-Canel that, in his search for financial oxygen, the “economic character and the symbolic character” of the press would not come into contradiction, that is, its loyalty to the regime and its fidelity to the vision of the world as directed from the Party.
The key to success, suggested Jorge Legañoa, vice president of Upec, is to bring local newspapers to the “multimedia scheme,” an idea that Randy Alonso had already raised this Friday, using as an example his own Multimedios Ideas project (which covers Cubadebate, Mesa Redonda [the ‘Roundtable’ TV program], Con Filo and other propaganda spaces).
Official journalism must be converted into a “content factory,” Legañoa stressed, in line with the Government’s policy and faithful to its function of “self-regulating” the country’s conscience, thus guaranteeing “popular control.”
However, the Upec plan will be an “experiment,” warned Ariel Terrero, another of its vice presidents, and will be above all an attempt at economic change, not an ideological opening. Hence, the motto of the event – ”changes yes, revolutionary changes” – is aimed, above all, at reassuring those who still “resist the change” in the organization, and maintain “persistent doubts about the scope of the transformation and the steps of the process.”
Before the Revolution it was very difficult for a Cuban to emigrate,” he added, in response to complaints about the exodus of journalists.
The official press is the great misfit in the “age of digital convergence.” Where all the newspapers in the world operate naturally on the Internet, in Cuba we still think “analogically” and slowly, lamented Ana Teresa Badía, from the International Institute of Journalism.
As expected, Díaz-Canel’s closing speech revolved around the formula that “with journalism we must make a revolution.” He was not too enthusiastic about the economic “experiment” of transmediality and reminded those present that Cuba is immersed in a “complex situation, from which journalists cannot escape.” “There are no magic solutions,” he concluded, insisting, of course, that “you have to work very hard.”
“Before the Revolution it was very difficult for a Cuban to emigrate,” he added, in response to complaints about the exodus of journalists, although, he said, he preferred to talk about those who “stay and conceive their life project in Cuba and continue to defend it.”
The essential question, before asking for initiatives to be generated, said the president, is “how to manage the means so that they contribute more,” and only then “increase salaries.” At the end of a speech that was emptier in content than usual, Díaz-Canel could only resort to one of his oldest slogans: “I trust in creative resistance.”
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