Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Risks of Journalism

The Risks of Journalism / Yoani Sanchez
Posted on May 21, 2015

Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 21 May 2015 – If you has asked me a
year ago what would be the three greatest challenges of the digital
newspaper 14ymedio, I would have said repression, lack of connection to
the Internet, and media professionals being afraid to work on our team.
I did not imagine that the another obstacle would become the principal
headache of this informative little paper: the lack of transparency in
Cuban institutions, which has found us many times before a closed door
and no matter how hard we knock, no one opens or provides answers.

In a country where State institutions refuse to provide the citizen with
certain information that should be public, the situation becomes much
more complicated for the reporter. Dealing with the secrecy turns out to
be as difficult as evading the political police, tweeting "blind," or
becoming used to the opportunism and silence of so many colleagues.
Information is militarized and guarded in Cuba as if there is a war of
technology, which is why those who try to find out are taken, at the
very least, as spies.

Belonging to an outlawed media makes the work even more problematic, and
gives a clandestine character to a job that should be a profession like
any other. Now, if we look at "the glass half full," the limitation of
not being able to access official spaces has freed us, in 14ymedio, from
that journalism of "statements" that produces such harmful effects. To
quote an official, to collect the words of a minister, or to transcribe
the official proclamation of a Party leader, has been for decades the
refuge of those who do not dare to narrate the reality of this country.

Lacking a press credential to enter an event, we have approached its
participants in a less controlled setting, one where they have felt more
free to speak

Our principal limitation has become the best incentive to seek out more
creative ways of to inform. Government silence about so many issues has
motivated us to find other voices that can relate what happened. Lacking
a press credential to enter an event, we have approached its
participants in a less controlled setting, one where they have felt more
free to speak. From Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the
European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who answered
several of our questions outside the press conference where our access
was denied, to employees who alert us in whispers about an act of
corruption in their companies or anonymous messages that put us on the
trail of an injustice.

It has also been hard to work out our true role as providers of
information, which is different from the role of a judge, a human rights
activist and a political opponent. It is our role to make facts visible,
so that others can condemn or applaud them. In short, as journalists we
have the responsibility to inform, but not the power to impute.

Nor can we justify our failings because we are outlawed, persecuted,
stigmatized and rejected. No reader is going to forgive us if we are not
in the exact place of history's twists and turns.

Source: The Risks of Journalism / Yoani Sanchez | Translating Cuba -

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