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Young Cuban Journalists Look at Their Profession / 14ymedio, Reinaldo
Escobar

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 8 February 2017 – Now underway is
the second meeting of young journalists at the Jose Marti International
Journalism Institute in Havana. The main objective of the event,
organized by the Cuban Journalists Union (UPEC), is to discuss
“journalism and citizen participation, and communication in the context
of updating Cuba’s social-economic model.”

The news reports published in the official press, in addition to
reviewing the 24 proposals from the previous meeting, held in December
2015, reiterate “the urgency of a change in the routines of production
and a transformation of the management model.”

It is likely that the young participants of this experience will leave
with the belief that national journalism is on the verge of change, and
that they will have a role in its transformation. This would be the
healthiest mistake of their professional career.

Imbued with this useful error, they will return to their newsrooms
convinced that the sacred verse of “changing everything that should be
changed” will be applied to the mass media so that the press will
finally fulfill its social role of keeping the population informed about
what is really happening in the country.

The vast majority of those in charge of deciding what can be published
and what must be silenced know perfectly well how diffuse are the limits
of their responsibility. They know, for example, that they can berate
the negligence of an administrator at a collection point where the
bananas are rotting on a truck, but they can never criticize the evil
effects of the excessive centralization of public administration.

When it comes time to choose, these leading cadres prefer to censor
rather than declassify, because, as they know, no director of a
newspaper or radio station ever been dismissed for silencing a criticism
or hiding complaints in a drawer.

When these impetuous kids return to their media with a new shot of
adrenaline, their more experienced colleagues will take the time to
explain to them that since the 3rd UPEC Congress, held more than 40
years ago, it seemed that everything would change if they fulfilled the
theme of that event: “For a critical, militant and creative journalism.”

Since then, there as been a lot of talk from the podiums about the
culture of secrecy and the essential need to undertake rigorous analysis
of the problems that afflict the population.

A brief inventory of recent information lacunae could justify a certain
pessimism about the future of Cuba’s official journalism. The most
notorious example is that no one has reported on the cause of death of
ex-president Fidel, despite the fact that his passing is the news that
has occupied the most space in the media since the end of last year.

No journalist has tried to explain in the official media why Marino
Murilla, in the last session of parliament, did not not offer his
traditional progress report with regards to the implementation of the
Party guidelines, nor what has been the fate of the new electoral law
that Raul Castro announced in February 2015 would be forthcoming, but
about which nothing more has been heard.

Silence reigns over such important topics as the date when the country’s
dual currency system will end, or when the United Nations human rights
covenants will be ratified, or the depth of the dredging in Mariel Bay,
just to mention a few topical issues.

If we go back a decade, it comes to mind that there have been no
explanations about how the super-entity called the Battle of Ideas
ended, which was led by Mr. Otto Rivero, of whom nothing more has ever
been said. Nor is there any official report on the ouster of Carlos
Venciaga, a member of the Council of State, nor about that of the army
of social workers who had become omnipresent, but which are now nowhere
to be seen.

Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel spoke with reporters Monday afternoon
and emphasized “the need to perfect” the work of the media. In passing,
he called attention to ways to confront “the platforms of ideological
political subversion,” which target young people. Curiously, among these
platforms appear all of Cuba’s independent journalism, which finds among
its principal niches all the information that is never talked about in
the official press.

Source: Young Cuban Journalists Look at Their Profession / 14ymedio,
Reinaldo Escobar – Translating Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/young-cuban-journalists-look-at-their-profession-14ymedio-reinaldo-escobar/

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