Sunday, October 17

Cultural journalism despite everything

This Wednesday cultural journalism was trending topic, but not for the reasons I would like. One writer opined that the culture sections have become “shop windows” and their professionals in bullied or corrupt wimp. The column started by comparing the Nobel Prize for Literature to Abdulrazak Gurnah with the one awarded by the Swedish Academy to Bob Dylan in 2016. The criticism was that no one had skinned Abdulrazak, or was it Bob? Anyway, the point is that brave skinners are missing.

Here is the problem of the matter. The worst thing is not that someone outside the most precarious of the sector accuses us of selling any product for fear of running out of parties or canapés. It is too childish a notion to take to heart. The problem is the absolute ignorance that exists about this small part of the newspapers and that has been revealed with the article in question. The problem is to confuse criticism with hatred and cultural journalism with criticism.

According to this thesis, the true cultural journalist is the one who issues a judgment: for or against. The more dismissive the better. But be careful with the choice because there is only one correct team. If you are on the contrary, you are a sold, Netflix pays you or you have the criteria of a log. Worse, you’re a parguela because you don’t even get a check. Producers and publishers captivate you with the promise of a free crab sandwich at one of their events. Remember that you have to be complacent. But the right side makes you a “real” journalist. That, and watering the article with expressions like “garish nonsense” or “well-meaning rubbish.” If you can also refer to a professional with 20 years of trade as a “cute girl”, they validate the title of reactionary columnist. Sorry, a figure of cultural journalism.

The PP MEP Esteban González Pons, the banner of Lo Español, Toni Cantó, and journalists from other specialties have shared the opinion. And they all chant the same thing: there is no longer critical thinking in the culture sections. It is not new. Not even too offensive. It is the daily bread for someone who dedicates himself to it as an editor or, in an act of greater daring, as a collaborator.

In your text That ain’t (whatever), the sociologist Howard Becker defended that it is a formula used by those who feel their privilege threatened. Of course, it can be applied to “that’s not cultural journalism.” There will be everything, I do not deny it, but in this case a false debate has been generated that is reduced to a single issue: the general contempt for this part of the newsrooms.

A scientist can know more than a science journalist. An economist can handle more concepts than an economic journalist. A doctor could make a thousand qualifications to an article by a health journalist. It seldom happens unless they make glaring mistakes. Instead, everyone has an opinion on cultural journalism. Anyone who reads books, watches movies, and visits exhibitions gets a reviewer card. You don’t have to be a writer, painter, or filmmaker to derail an approach or an analysis. Far from having crushed stone in a section full of invisible tasks. Not having sold 14 hours dedicated to an article for a ridiculous sum. But it is worth understanding the mental and material conditions behind a job that “anyone would do better.”

Culture depends on its resources, which are usually precarious. In an ideal world, film and dance would be talked about in equal parts – it would also be consumed in equal parts. Relaxed analyzes of the topic of fashion would be offered at the same time as large reports or investigations of a more social and political nature were carried out. But in no case do I think that cultural journalism should be solely and exclusively critical.

It is necessary to inform about the great cultural events (a new film by Almodóvar, like the Nobel, the Oscars or the Budgets, it is) and that the public decide if it is for or against. It is necessary to encourage to consume culture and that it is the people who have the healthy debates. Hopefully more opinion on the message, but let’s leave the cultural messenger alone.

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