Political Prisoners of the Empire  MIAMI 5     

     

C U B A

Havana. November 27, 2014

New York Times journalist
visits Granma
• Ernesto Londoño, a member of the New York Times’ editorial board, visited Granma’s offices and conversed with staff, during the afternoon of November 24

Karina Marrón González

I admit that, given my usual daily rush, I had thought better of writing about the visit to Granma’s offices by Ernesto Londoño, a member of the New York Times’ editorial board, leaving the job to someone else among the many who conversed with him. Nonetheless, so many people were asking about it, after seeing his Twitter posts, I decided to make an attempt to summarize the main topics we discussed, over the course of two hours.


Ernesto Londoño (left) in Granma’s national newsroom, with journalists Lissy Rodríguez (back to camera) Karina Marrón (center), and Sergio Gómez (right), with Editor Pelayo Terry (far right). PHOTO: Juvenal Balán

It was a transparent dialogue, although journalists well know that such conversations are always accompanied by a kind of personal thermometer, or instinct, with which we are constantly evaluating our conversation partner. At least that is how it is for me. You are attentive to the questions, their introductions, the tone… Londoño revealed himself to be a sharp interviewer, a journalist who I admired, and no doubt learned from, since the interview genre is precisely the one I most "respect."

He first inquired about the survey recently published in the pages of our daily, and the way in which the information gathered might impact changes in the paper. This was an opportunity to explain to him the steps which have been taken to change our beloved "yacht" – including the new web page, with the provision of space for comments, and our work on social networks – as well as the decision to continue providing this option in the printed edition, changes in information distribution, and, above all, in content.

The survey is the final element of a study of our readership, which is critical to our ability to make decisions, without doing so blindly. Who reads our paper? What are they looking for? What would they like to read? In other words, clues which allow us to not simply imagine what’s good or bad in what we are doing, but rather to have a clearer idea, closer to reality.

Londoño then inquired about how we are challenged by the plurality of voices heard on the web, despite limited access to Internet in our society. Websites, digital publications, blogs, social networks… ensure that information is not the exclusive property of the media.

We talked about this and shared experiences, occasions when the web had become a primary source of information… the times a blog uncovered a subject, the competition and interaction which is naturally developing.

Giving the public more participation via the publication of letters on Fridays; providing the option for comments on the web page; conducting online interviews - and then publishing them in the printed edition, so that the information reaches those who do not have Internet access; have been ways to coexist with the virtual world, with much more to be done.

Of course we talked about Cuba’s press, and differences with the U.S. model, in which he, after all, exercises his profession.

… Differences will always exist, since in the first place, we are talking about our social mission in the service of society, upon which our model is based, which might make the music young people listen to a cause for concern and reflection here, while in other places these issues are seen as a question of interfering in individual freedoms.

The dialogue flowed toward the interests of capital and its impact on the media’s agenda, on criticism and investigative reporting. This was a moment in which we shared some points of view, and - despite the professional gaps, the race to address Cuba’s diverse, controversial and profound public agenda – without overlooking the Cuban people’s high level of education – we showed that our media are not as spineless as we are presented.

He didn’t say any more about the NYT editorials beyond what he has said in other interviews. He is one of the editorial board’s 19 members, who meet three times a week to discuss topics, debate and ask questions… This trip to Cuba is part of this necessary preparatory work, which often involves meeting various figures in society, intellectuals, government officials, bloggers.

We drank coffee, toured our very modest facilities and workplaces. He even left with a book on the history of efforts to normalize U.S.-Cuba relations (De la confrontación a los intentos de ‘normalización’. La política de los Estados Unidos hacia Cuba) by Cuban historians Elier Ramírez Cañedo and Esteban Morales Domínguez.

Next week there could be another chapter in this story, and I promise not to wait, and to write.
 

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