Sunday, October 24

Journalism, faced with COVID-19: “Either we adapted to what was coming or we were professionally dead”

What lies ahead in the journalistic profession, what the pandemic has led to the newsrooms and what is now being considered in the short term has been the basis of the meeting organized this Tuesday by at the Cajasol headquarters in Seville.

To respond as best as possible to the analysis, two generations of journalists, father and son, have come face to face. The journalist, writer, philologist and founder of the Archiletras magazine, Arsenio Escolar, former director of the newspaper 20 Minutos and president of the CLABE Open Club of Editors, and the director and founder of, Ignacio Escolar, former director of Público, political analyst in La Sexta and winner of the Recognition of Excellence of the Gabriel García Márquez Journalism Award, granted by the Foundation for New Ibero-American Journalism (FNPI).

In a talk led by the journalist and writer María Iglesias, collaborator of Andalucía, both have put on the table how they have seen all the changes that have come in droves in a year and a half, as Ignacio Escolar has said with such radical changes like having to run a newspaper without journalists in front of it. “On the same March 13, the day the confinement began, we had 20 infections, I one of them,” he said, to point out that all the work of the newsroom had to be reorganized, and “I did not imagine that it could be directed a newspaper with the newsroom confined to your home. ”

But it was possible, to such an extent that the writing of has adapted to the changes with face-to-face appointments only for the essentials and a few days a week.

An essential service

But it has been a necessary effort, as Arsenio Escolar argues, that it is not obvious that the media suffered a significant drop in income, but “at the same time that our main income was sinking, our costs increased for providing that service to society. Let’s not forget that the first decree of the Government already considered us an essential service “.

An essential service within which “the wolf is coming”, as Ignacio Escolar has described the first rumors about the pandemic, after going through previous health crises without major problems, while predicting that “the climate crisis is much more serious than that of the Covid, but in slow motion. It will be the great news that my generation will tell, hopefully not in a dramatic plan. ”

“A friend has the theory that we are in the hands of the crazy monkey, a scriptwriter who is taking balls and deciding what happens to us”, Arsenio Escolar has pointed out, in this area, that technological changes must be taken into account that have been arriving. “New changes will come, but journalists have a special ability to adapt, because, if not, you fall.”

However, “the vast majority of newsrooms realized that either we were adapting to what was coming or we were professionally dead”, to recall another phrase almost like an epitaph: “There are times when you acclimatize or acclimatise”.

The changes that came

However, Arsenio Escolar has valued that the older generation of journalism “we have taught the following generations the trade, but they have taught us to adapt to changes”, changes that have not always been for the better in the pandemic, such as press conferences without questions or sending videos and cuts already edited without the possibility of reply. “Power has a tendency to exercise it without any kind of control, but our role is the opposite. I even asked colleagues who ran media to commit to not giving a single line in our media in an appearance without questions. I even proposed that we will create a seal of quality in all the information, in which we say that the politician on duty has not agreed to the questions. ”

And it is that “the transparency laws are for that, we have to be all day asking, and abhorring practices that go in the opposite line. If we have to tell things about a press conference without questions, we must say that whoever is declined to receive questions. ”

And all in a telework environment that, curiously, was premonitory in, as pointed out by its director, who has put on the table that “we already had a telework pilot program one day a week before the pandemic”, although not with the nuances that had to be forcibly adopted.

The situation of the profession, the media and the networks

Ignacio Escolar has answered a question from María Iglesias about the current situation of the professional journalism, precarious on many occasions, to the point that he recalled that 14 years ago, as director of Public, he earned more money than now, while Arsenio Escolar has said that “the precariousness in the sector is accelerating with the financial crisis of 12 years ago”, to point out the director of that “in 2012, a base editor earned 1,000 euros per month, and now twice, and it is still below what I paid in Public, although being a very serious problem and a situation that has not recovered all that was lost by the crisis, we can be moderately optimistic “.

To questions from the public, he has expressed his opinion on whether “the press is increasingly similar to the networks”, which, according to Ignacio Escolar, has nuances, distinguishing between the media that publish headlines to hook or open news “that people think that I’d pay to see them. ” “Many media, more and more, we try to convince readers that our work is worthwhile, and people cannot be tricked into paying for garbage.”

Here you can see the entire development of the meeting:

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