Friday, January 21

The III meeting of Ibero-American Journalism vindicates independent journalism in Spanish against corruption

“I know who you are. You are the grandmother woman, the girl, the mother, the missing one. You are the lioness woman, the eagle woman, the tree woman, the panther woman. I know who you are and why you have come to us. I I know who you are, liberated woman. ” It is part of the poem by Lydia Cacho that has inaugurated the III meeting of Ibero-American Journalism organized by and that this December 2 has brought together journalism professionals in Spanish at the Casa de América in Madrid with an eye on the present and the future, to seek to answer two questions: what to do and how to grow.

The director of, Ignacio Escolar, opened the meeting with an interview with the Mexican journalist and writer Lydia Cacho. Three thousand pesos. It’s the price they put on her life the first time they tried to kill her. In 2003 Cacho published The demons of Eden, a journalistic book in which he revealed a network of child trafficking and exploitation in the State of Quintana Roo and that directly splashed on Mexican politicians and businessmen. She was arrested and tortured, has suffered more than six attacks and is threatened with death. “The good journalism we do does not have to do with the bravery of the professionals, but with the need to explain a very complex country given over to white-collar organized crime.” The writer has criticized the new stage of President López Obrador: “Nothing has changed. The press continues under the same pressure. Obrador has done the same as Trump: invite the public lynching of journalists.”

Feminism, a fundamental pillar of Cacho’s work, has been an important part of his interview at the Casa de América in Madrid. From the stage, the writer wanted to vindicate the work of a movement that has achieved “great achievements” throughout the world and that, despite this, continues to criticize itself, also in part, because of machismo. Regarding the response of society to the advancement of women’s rights, Cacho has criticized the extreme right, but also the left: “It is also impregnated with machismo, no one is saved. All of us are touched by machismo, whoever says they don’t lie “. “Of course, it was obvious that this macho culture was going to respond in the way it is responding,” she has commented on the continuous attack that feminist women receive.

New movements, new formats

The first table of the afternoon has focused on new movements and new formats. Moderated by the deputy director of María Ramírez, Elda Cantú, editor of the New York Times in Spanish, Francisca Skoknic, co-founder and editor of the journalistic chatbot at LaBot and Chani Guyot, founder and director of RedAcción, have set their sights on new formats to reach new audiences: “We have to find the best way to tell a story and reach audiences that have different forms of consumption,” argue Skoknic. That’s where LaBot was born, a bot inspired by the Spanish project Politibot, which reports through Telegram: “What a journalistic chatbot does is imitate a conversation and generate that feeling of intimacy with your audience.” The problem, they point out, is being able to monetize this format.

Regarding the success of the newsletters, Guyot affirms that they already have a dozen of them and has defended that “there is still a lot of room to grow and experiment with them”. Cantú has explained the evolution of the NYT bulletin in Spanish from the pre-pandemic stage to the present day and has claimed this format as a tool to bring the audience closer to the work of a newsroom: “Part of what we do is do an ‘unboxing “from Times journalism. We show what’s inside the ‘box,’ we invite subscribers to learn about our journalism, we bring a colleague from the newspaper to talk to him and see how we work. A million subscribers who are outside from the US are looking for the same experience, the same data. That conversation that seeks to involve new readers is also journalism. ”

Pandora’s Papers

12 million documents and 600 journalists from more than 150 outlets to publish a global investigation that has revealed how elites hide their assets in tax havens. The journalistic work of those already known as ‘Pandora’s papers’ has starred in the second table of the meeting, moderated by the deputy director of, Ander Oliden, with the intervention of Emilia Delfino, journalist of elDiarioAR, Marcos García Rey, journalist and member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and Daniele Grasso, data and investigative journalist for El País.

“There is research that could not be done if it is not from radical collaboration. There are many transnational issues that would be difficult to approach if it is not collaborative and coordinated with various media from different countries,” said García Rey, who explained the work flow: “First a group is organized in the consortium and, later, journalists from different countries will be invited. Under this coordination, they work together to find a quality informative product.” Grasso has emphasized trust: “The consortium works with journalists, not with the media.”

One of them is Delfino. Argentina is the third country in number of names associated with beneficiaries of these offshore companies. elDiarioAR has published 43 stories of Argentine characters so far, but there are documents that implicate more than 2,500 citizens of the Latin American country. Delfino stresses that nine of the ten richest families in the country appear in these papers. This topic was the most read article in the year of life of elDiarioAR: “We saw that our interest and that of the readers was the same: people are interested not only in who these richest families are, but also in how they are organizing their wealth and if they are paying taxes. ”

Next, Javier Cantón, professor at Unir, spoke about the importance of putting disinformation in the spotlight. “The disinformation business uses tools that are very similar to the ones we use to fight it. It is almost as important to dismantle the hoax as it is to explain how we have done it.” Canton has defended “media literacy”: “It is a duty of citizens to be critical and ask ourselves the most basic information. This means being aware of our own biases.”

Stand up against harassment from governments

Harassment of journalists from corrupt and authoritarian governments is a reality in a handful of Latin American countries. Pressure, death threats and mounting or assassinations of information professionals. On this they have shared their experience, at a table moderated by Gumersindo Lafuente, deputy director of, Carlos Data, director of El Faro, Carlos Chamorro, director of Esta Semana y Confidencial, Mónica Baró, contributor to El Estornudo Magazine, and Andrea Aldana, columnist for El Espectador.

Aldana is a journalist on the armed conflict in Colombia. After investigating the army, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Colombian police, the journalist began to be persecuted along with a score of colleagues. “For the mafias to survive, they need support from the State. That is what I was investigating. There came the death threats and, later, judicial montages.” The Colombian press has received more than 700 hundred attacks in the last year. .

Chamorro was exiled for the first time from Nicaragua in 2019. He had to go to Costa Rica after Ortega’s confiscation of the copy of El Confidencial. Months later he returned to continue his work, but soon after he had to go into exile again: “Otherwise I would be in prison today, silenced like another of the 160 political prisoners currently in Nicaragua.” “We continue to do journalism from exile through digital platforms,” ​​he added.

Baró, winner of the 2019 Gabo Prize for Journalism, arrived in Spain from Cuba almost a year ago. “It was the way I found to get to safety, so as not to get psychologically ill. In Cuba it is very difficult to do independent journalism. I have been doing it since 2015, but in the year of the pandemic the repression by the State increased scandalously.” “In the current context of Cuba, being accused of mercenarism carries penalties of 10 or 20 years in prison. Even, even if it is on a moratorium, the death penalty.” Since the social outbreak in July this year, there have been more than 800 political prisoners, 11 of them children. “In Cuba they don’t have to kill you because they can do everything else.”

Dada, director of El Faro, has denounced the dismantling of democracy by Nayib Bukele. Without political opponents, El Faro has become the target of the current president for investigations of corruption and abuses of government power. Half of the journalists in El Faro have tapped phones. “The president has placed us on the opponents ‘stand. The independent press is a hindrance to the corrupt, to authoritarianism and the elimination of citizens’ rights.”

Financing media in Latin America

The challenge of being able to survive economically to continue doing journalism. This was the focus of the table moderated by Patricia Torres-Burd, CEO of Media Advisory Services for MDIF, with the intervention of Patrick Butler, Vice President of Content and Community of the International Center for Journalists ICFJ, Mijal Iastrebner, Executive Director of SembraMedia , and Viviana González, head of investments for MDIF in Latin America and Asia.

“The best journalism dies if the media cannot sustain itself financially.” Butler has championed the necessary support and the search for new sources of income to support the independent work of professionals. Iastrebner has defended the importance of helping to identify funding opportunities without going into editorial decisions in the media at all, and focusing efforts on “diversifying the talents” of a newsroom team. For his part, González has delved into the importance of analyzing the reason for each journalistic project and all the things that it entails: “The chances of success are much higher.”

Spanish podcast

Juan Luis Sánchez, deputy director of and voice and head of ‘Un tema al día’, the podcast, has been responsible for moderating the table in which Silvia Viñas, executive producer of El Hilo, participated. of Radioambulante; Franco Delle Donne, author of The End of the Mekel Era and Epidemic Ultra, and Catalina May, co-creator of Las Raras Podcast.

The producers have talked about the podcast’s ability to break down barriers to reach a more direct way of doing journalism, but also as a very good opportunity to generate community beyond the borders where their microphones are located. An example is Las Raras, a documentary podcast that collects “stories of freedom, people who break the norms towards social change.” “After publishing two stories, we realized that they were not listening to us only in Chile, but from all over Latin America, Spain and the United States. That forced us to internationalize the stories.”

They have also had words for those people who start a new project with this format: “Do something that motivates you, get to know your audience and try to be different,” May said. Donne has also emphasized the importance of taking care of sound quality: “With it we ask our listeners to reconstruct the images we are telling them. The realization is key. In the edition the soul of the project is transmitted”.