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Sunday, June 29, 2014

El Diario La Prensa reflejo de la crisis periodística

"La nueva gerencia de El Diario, compuesta por argentinos-españoles, ha decretado que no les interesa más el mercado de pobres puertorriqueños, dominicanos o mexicanos a los que llaman ‘el guetto’ porque quieren enfocarse en lectores suramericanos afluentes, de dinero, una lectoría ‘upscale’".


A los 14 años descubrí a los dos grandes amores en mi vida: mi primer novio y el periodismo. Ese primer novio me presentó a su tío, quien para ese entonces era uno de los periodistas más avezados y serios que he conocido, el editor en jefe del Diario La Prensa de la ciudad de Nueva York, Manuel De Dios Unanue.

Cubano de nacimiento, global por convicción, siempre respetó las comunidades a las que le sirvió como periodista en Nueva York y me enseñó a amar el oficio. De Manolín aprendí que un periodista nunca se cansa de hacer preguntas. Que tiene que ser tenaz y terco porque si no te dan una respuesta, insistes hasta conseguirla. Que un buen periodista cae mal porque no se cansa hasta encontrar la verdad, y que nunca debe escupir las contribuciones del pasado porque su trabajo se nutre de los pasos que dieron otros antes.

Aun siendo una niña me enseñó que una vez se descubre la vocación de periodista, esa responsabilidad va por encima de cualquier consideración. Aprendí que el verdadero periodismo es el investigativo, y que por eso arriesgas todo incluyendo la vida, como le pasó a él, quien lastimosamente cayó víctima de sicarios que intentaron detener su cobertura noticiosa sobre los carteles de la droga. Fue el primer periodista asesinado en suelo americano por traficantes colombianos.

Años más tarde mi memoria evoca su sabiduría aunque en aquél entonces yo no lo comprendía bien. Ahora al leer que el medio para el que Manolín entregó hasta su vida, perdió el norte, reflexiono en la crisis de este oficio. El Diario La Prensa, el más grande en español y más antiguo en los Estados Unidos – tiene 101 años de fundado – olvidó que aun siendo un negocio, se debe a las comunidades a las que sirve.

La nueva gerencia de El Diario, compuesta por argentinos-españoles, ha decretado que no les interesa más el mercado de pobres puertorriqueños, dominicanos o mexicanos a los que llaman ‘el guetto’ porque quieren enfocarse en lectores suramericanos afluentes, de dinero, una lectoría ‘upscale’. Esos mismos que prefieren leer el New York Times y en inglés. Su enfoque es el corredor de bolsa o el profesional en vez del trabajador de una factoría, el que vive en vivienda pública o en los ‘projects’.


En ese proceso han ido despidiendo a los editores y reporteros de más antigüedad, para sustituirlos por gente joven con menos beneficios, o por otros argentinos o chilenos que desconocen las luchas históricas por los derechos civiles y políticos de las comunidades latinas en Nueva York. Como no tienen memoria histórica no les importa nada. Favorecen lo superficial vs lo importante. Prefieren darle primeras planas a noticias de cómo tener un pene más grande o qué artista tiene los implantes de senos más caros a hurgar entre los barrios el porqué de las desigualdades, por qué la falta de recursos o qué es lo que verdaderamente pasó tras bastidores en eventos como, por ejemplo, el Desfile Nacional Puertorriqueño.

Muchos de los mejores periodistas de El Diario lucharon hasta que fueron despedidos. La unión, como suele pasar, se alió por algún tiempo a la gerencia hasta que ya era evidente la arrogancia de los nuevos dueños y finalmente comenzó a defender a su matrícula, aunque un poco tarde.

Lo que sucede en El Diario es un reflejo de lo que pasa en muchos sitios: despidos masivos de los que llevan más años para ser sustituidos por empleados sin beneficios, abandono del periodismo de contexto para favorecer el de reacciones y comunicados, falta de contexto histórico, falta de compromiso con el lector, el negocio por encima de la responsabilidad, lo fácil sobre lo complicado.

Pasa igual acá. Por ejemplo, en una ocasión enfrenté y discutí con un recién llegado editor chileno en un medio en el que laboré que me dijo que con sólo dos semanas que llevaba en la Isla conocía mejor al país que yo, y que por lo tanto, las noticias que cubriría serían las morbosas, nada de investigación. Lo llamé insolente frente a otros dos jefes del medio que estaban boquiabiertos, pero a partir de entonces, el chileno me respetó. Su paso por Puerto Rico quedó en el olvido, pero su legado se ve con fuerza en el tipo de periodismo que aquí parece dominar.

Irónicamente, uno de los dos jefes que estuvo frente a mí en aquella ocasión y que guardó silencio, es uno de los que fue empujado en una de las muchas ventanas de retiro que los medios locales han creado para los veteranos en los últimos cinco años. Junto a esas ventanas también llegaron los despidos y los cambios de enfoque editorial en la prensa local.

Es que la transformación en el periodismo con el enfoque en las nuevas tecnologías ha dado paso a que se silencien voces que dan contexto, que aportan la historia y que hacen comprender el porqué de las cosas. Persiste un énfasis en lo superficial cuando las audiencias piden cada vez más lo contrario. El medio que logra combinar el uso de las nuevas plataformas cibernéticas con el periodismo de contexto, es el que cada día gana más adeptos. Sea en Puerto Rico, en Nueva York o en cualquier parte. En vez de esfumar los temas entre los links, las noticias más vistas y las los temas de espectáculos, hay que balancear con voces fuertes, que tengan agallas y que no tengan miedo ni a anunciantes ni a gobiernos.

Los periódicos, como los medios de comunicación, son negocios. Buscan la rentabilidad y hacer dinero.


El problema es que si proclaman hacer periodismo, tienen que reconocer una máxima de su misión, que es servir a su público. No es cuestión de ser puertorriqueño o dominicano por encima de un argentino o un chileno, sino de que el medio tiene que reconocer y atender las verdaderas necesidades e intereses de sus comunidades. No obviarlas o descartarlas como cosas sin importancia. 

Por eso regreso a lo que me enseñó Manolín que siendo cubano respetó a las comunidades diversas a las que siempre le sirvió como periodista en El Diario La Prensa. Para que un medio subsista y tenga respeto de las audiencias, tiene que ser fiel a su misión de servicio por encima del negocio.


Esta columna fue publicada en El Vocero el 6-24-14 http://elvocero.com/el-diario-la-prensa-reflejo-de-la-crisis-periodistica/

También fue traducida y publicada en varios sitios en inglés tales como http://myemail.constantcontact.com/NiLP-Guest-Commentary--El-Diario-La-Prensa-and-the-Crisis-in-Journalism.html?soid=1101040629095&aid=cc-eBBb1Z2E

El Diario La Prensa:
A Reflection of a Crisis in Journalism
By Sandra Rodríguez-Cotto | @SRCSandra (June 24, 2014)
A Spanish version appears in the June 24, 2014 edition of El Vocero in Puerto Rico
At 14, I discovered the two greatest loves in my life: my first boyfriend and journalism. That first boyfriend introduced me to his uncle, who, by then, was one of the most experienced and serious journalists I have met, the editor-in-chief at El Diario La Prensa in New York City, Manuel De Dios Unanue.

Cuban by birth, global citizen by conviction, he always respected the communities he served as a journalist in New York and taught me how to love the field. From Manolín, as he was called by his relatives, I learned that a journalist never gets tired of asking questions. One has to be both tenacious and stubborn because if we don't get an answer, we must insist. I learned that a good journalist is disliked by many because he never tires of finding the truth and that a reporter must never spit upon the contributions of the past because his work draws on the steps taken by others before.

Even as a child he taught me that once a journalist's vocation is discovered, that responsibility goes beyond any consideration. I learned that true journalism must investigate, and for that you could risk anything including life just as he did when unfortunately he was a victim of assassins who tried to stop his news coverage on the drug cartels. He was the first journalist killed on U.S. soil by Colombian traffickers.

 
Years later my memory recalls his wisdom, something that back then I did not understand well. But now, upon reading that the newspaper for which Manolín gave his life, has lost its direction, I reflect on the crisis of this field. El Diario La Prensa, the largest and oldest Spanish-languages daily in the United States - it has 101 years of existence - forgot that its business must respond to the communities it serves.

The new management at El Diario, made of Argentinian and Spanish executives, has decreed that they are no longer interested in the market of poor Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Mexicans who they call "the ghetto" because they want to focus on affluent, upscale South American readers, those who prefer to read the New York Times. Their focus is the stockbroker or professionals instead of the factory worker, those who live in public housing or in the "projects."

In that process they have been laying off the oldest editors and reporters and replaced them with young employees with fewer benefits, or other Argentinians or Spaniards who are unaware of the historic civil and political rights struggles of Latino communities in New York. Since they have no historical memory they care for nothing. They favor the superficial versus the important. They prefer to give front pages to stories on how to have a bigger penis or what performer has the biggest breast implants as opposed to digging through neighborhoods to find why there is inequality, why there is a lack of resources or what really happened behind the scenes at events such as National Puerto Rican Day Parade.

Many of the top journalists of El Diario fought until they were dismissed. The union, as usual, allied to management for some time until the arrogance of the new owners was made clear and eventually began to defend their members, although a little late.

What happens in El Diario is a reflection of what happens in many places: massive layoffs of veteran reporters who are replaced by employees without benefits, abandonment of context and in-depth journalism in favor reporting reactions or rewriting news releases, lack of historical context, lack of commitment to the reader, business above responsibility, what's easy instead of what is complicated.

The same happens in Puerto Rico. For example, I once confronted a newcomer Chilean editor at a newspaper I worked for who told me that, with just two weeks on the Island, he knew it better than I, and therefore, the news that the newspaper would cover were to be scandals, no research. In front of two other editors of the newspaper, who were shocked, I called him insolent but, thereafter, the Chilean respected me. His tenure in Puerto Rico was forgotten, but his legacy is strong in the kind of journalism that seems to dominate here.

Ironically, one of the two editors who were in front of me at that time and remained silent, is one of many who were forced into early retirement as it has become a new trend in the local media over the past five years. Alongside the early retirement also came the layoffs and changes in editorial focus in the local press.

All this is due to a transformation in journalism that focuses on new technologies and silencing the strong voices that provide historical context and help to understand why things are happening. What remains is an emphasis on the superficial when audiences are increasingly demanding the opposite. Those media that manage to combine the use of new cyber platforms with context journalism are continually gaining audiences, whether it is Puerto Rico, New York or anywhere. Instead of blending issues between links, the most watched news and entertainment topics, coverage must be balanced with strong voices, those that have gills and are not afraid or advertisers or governments.

Newspapers, as with the rest of the media, are businesses that look to make money. The problem is that if they proclaim to make journalism, they have to recognize their main mission, which is to serve the public. There is no question of being Puerto Rican or Dominican above an Argentinian or Spanish, but that the media must recognize and address the real needs and interests of their communities instead of dismissing them as unimportant. So I return to what Manolín taught me that being a Cuban he respected the various communities that he always served as a journalist for El Diario La Prensa. For a newspaper to survive and be respected by its audience, it has to be true to its mission of service above the business.

Sandra D. Rodríguez Cotto is a communications strategist and journalist. She is President and Founder of Joy PR, Inc., and Researcher/Investigative Unit Manager for Wapa-TV's "Ahí está la verdad" in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. She can be reached at sandra.rodriguez.cotto@gmail.com.


El Diario La Prensa reaccionó el 25 de junio con un editorial - http://www.eldiariony.com/Opinioneditorial/article/20140625/El-Diario-is-committed-to-the-community&timediff=0


El Diario is committed to the community

ESTJun 25, 2014 12:01 am EST

For 101 years, El Diario/La Prensa has fulfilled our mission of serving New York's Hispanic community, and we expect to continue with the same intensity, vocation and goodwill. After the relaunch of the print and digital versions of El Diario, we want to renew our commitment to our audience and to the community in the face of certain attacks. We've been accused of moving away from our readers, when reacting to changes in the media, focusing on a multimedia future and responding to the need to serve a broader, more diverse public are imperative in order to preserve the social function of journalism.


El Diario fights for our future and strives to continue being valuable to New York's Latino community. We want to be closer to all Latinos. This community is increasingly diverse and influential, and expects The Champion of Hispanics to advocate for its rights and provide content that helps everyone live their lives better—the Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mexican, Ecuadoran, Central American and South American communities, including people who have lived here for decades and recent arrivals. Our objective guides our daily work, since we're part of the community.


When we reached out to our readers before the relaunch, they mentioned three ideas: El Diario belongs to everyone, is a bond between Latinos and helps people become part of the city. That is our objective, like what inspired Spaniard Rafael Viera to establish La Prensa in 1913 and José Camprubí—a Puerto Rican and brother-in-law of poet and Nobel Prize winner Juan Ramón Jiménez—to turn it into a daily. It was the first daily led by women, the wife and daughters of Camprubí, until it merged with El Diario to become a point of reference for the Puerto Rican and Dominican communities.


Facts and content define us. We want to better serve our long-time readers, but also attract new ones. That's why we still offer information about immigration, are featuring and have expanded our presence in the celebrations of the various communities, and have developed new content covering the national economy, Latino entrepreneurs, women and families with our new section Para Ti and the Tu Sábado supplement. We're publishing Vive NY, our daily community page; launched a special series about Latino neighborhoods; and started new pages about local soccer that complete our sports offerings along with a daily magazine and the Quiero Más Fútbol website. We have correspondents in Dominican Republic and Mexico and have expanded our coverage about Puerto Rico and Central America. Digital initiatives like Real Latin Moms and Somos Dreamers have earned recognition from the Ippies awards. In addition, the relationship with our audience in social networks grows daily; we now have more than 350,000 followers.


These facts demonstrate our commitment—one that we renew every day with our work from a newsroom that's more diverse than ever, like our city, and with independence that's committed to the Latinos living in New York, where we still have many battles left to win

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