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Martin Barron, former director of The Washington Post: “Before the Internet, not everything was perfect in our profession.”



The heir, for example, to Ben Bradley, and boss Washington Post that revealed a scandal WatergateAnd the Martin Barron, He re-certified the head of that newspaper that he gained from being a The best journalist of the first decades of the twenty-first century. Comes from the phenomenal success, which led to bostonglobe To highlight the atrocities of Anglican priests in his newspaper city, he came to the newspaper belonging to Bradley and now belonging to Bezos to promote a new phase of masthead that was a legend on paper and is now an example in internet times.

Baron is a journalist by profession, celebrating that we are at EL PERIÓDICO DE ESPAÑA, Let’s live the first anniversary of a digital newspaper that is also printed on paper, indicating the past, present and even the future, without considering that none of those periods of trade were the best in all worlds. Since he is a journalist who is accustomed to referring to events in history in a few words, here are some of the headlines he left us, about the present of his job: “Journalists must not react immediately to everything that happens in the world.”; “We have an obligation to uphold our values, even if we no longer We deliver the news on paper;” Editors: Give editors time to deliver high-quality information. The conversation, conducted by Zoom from the newspaper’s newsroomAnd the It was also a journalism lesson, like his career.

P. A year ago, the group I belong to, Prensa Ibérica, launched a new digital and print newspaper, Spain newspaperAnd the At a time when the world seems to say goodbye to paper. How do you see today, after I took out one newspaper and another, the Washington Post, Who led to digital primacy, and journalism that still combines digital and paper-based factors?

R was found. Oh, the digital world presents a great opportunity for journalists. Because it allows us to reach more people and use various tools to tell us better: audio, video and interactive graphics. This helps explain more complex issues better. As if that weren’t enough, it allows us to access places outside the geographical area where we have the central editing room. So it is in this sense an advantage. But it is also a challenge. Because we are pressured to publish news almost immediately. Almost every second, huh. This has unleashed enormous competition between the media and unleashed great pressure on journalists, because we are human, and, acting quickly, we can make mistakes. Well, information that contains errors or also other completely wrong information spreads through social networks. And there are a lot of people who believe in what comes to them through social networks. So, it’s a very difficult environment for the media and to convince the public that we’re publishing the real information.

P. How should we journalists prevent the harm that falsehood does to us?

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R was found. This is something that falls on the shoulders of the companies responsible for social networks, they are the ones responsible for organizing something like that. It also affects the behavior of network users, that’s right. But, well, in that sense, society depends on the companies that have Facebook, Twitter, mldr; The governments of each country also have a responsibility to monitor what happens on social networks. Don’t control them, but watch them.

After the launch of Twitter, many journalists began to trust what they read there

Q: As a media manager, have you had bad experiences with social networks?

R was found. Several years ago, after the launch of Twitter, many journalists began to trust what they read there. They thought the tweets were real comments from the account holders, but in many cases they were fake accounts made by people impersonating a public figure. Well, we’ve noticed and learned our lesson. Thanks to that we never fall into those kinds of traps again.

Q: You’ve always seemed like a quiet person in times of madness. How did you manage to combine calm and haste?

R was found. Well, I guess I look calm, because I’ve always felt anxious inside. I am a very competitive person and I always want to beat the competition. The field of journalism has those pressures. I think, however, that we should not immediately respond to everything that is happening in the world. We have to stop you to think about what’s going on. But yes, if you compare me to some colleagues, it is true that I have a much calmer way of living.

P. You have directed various media until you reach one of the newspapers of unique importance all over the world. You are now retired, but I would like you to tell me how you feel about the distance that now exists between you and the profession. Or is there no distance?

R was found. After my retirement you say?

Q: Yes.

R was found. The truth is that I was ready to retire because I worked for so many years. I was a manager for 20 years in three newspapers and before that I worked as an editor and … I was already already exhausted. Burnout has been exacerbated by the digital age, because you have to work all day and you have to pay attention to the news all the time. From five in the morning until about midnight. Now I do other things. I am 67 years old. Anyway: I’m working on a book, I don’t think I’m doing anything. I’ve been with him for half a year and just finished my first draft. It is a book in which I narrate my professional career that lasted more than eight years Washington Post. I focus more on the conflict between Donald Trump and the newspaper, the severity of the attack on Capitol Hill on January 6 last year, and Trump’s reaction to the results of the election he lost. There are several topics and I work hard. I also participate in many conversations and act as a consultant for various media, some of which speak Spanish here in the United States. So I don’t rest much.

P. Regarding Trump, what are the consequences of the positions he has maintained on American democracy?

R was found. Even before him, I had a lot of faith in the democracy of the United States. But with him many dangers have taken place, and although he is no longer in the presidency, our democracy is still in danger. That is why I am so concerned about the future of our country.

B. A sentence of your words could be a catchphrase for the profession of journalism, while Trump’s persecution of his newspaper was taking place: “We are not at war, we are working.”

R was found. It could be a slogan, but the truth is that there are many journalists who believe that we are at war with tyrants and against those who remain skeptical about the outcome of the 2020 elections in this country. It is true that the principles that have governed the United States have been jeopardized: population diversity, inclusion, tolerance, freedom of the press & mldr; That is why there are those who say that we are at war. But I think our responsibility is to reveal the facts, put them in context, and publish them so that people can judge what is happening in their country. This is about us.

P. You said that the future is digital. But what will be the function of the paper?

R was found. I don’t want to predict the death of print newspapers. However, I would say that the time will come when the reader will receive information only through digital media and, above all, on their mobile device. The print media market is declining and the digital media market is rising. I don’t dare say exactly when print media will disappear, but I know that day will come. Maybe in 10 years. Around. Because people are already used to not waiting for the morning print.

Q: Many times it refers to good reader from newspapers. What would a good reader be today and what would he expect from journalists?

R was found. A good reader should expect from journalists honesty, accuracy, impartiality, that they hold the powerful to account, that they take advantage of the freedom of the press to discover the facts and that we are ready to listen to the people.

Q: In an interview with the former director of the scientist David Jimenez asks yourself, “Why don’t you stick to our journalistic values, even though the way we give information has changed?” I would like to know what your answer would be today.

R was found. Simply put: we have an obligation to uphold our values ​​even if we no longer give the news on paper. You can change the support but not our professional values.

The prestige of the big media does not depend on the channel through which the news is broadcast, but on who produces it

P. The paper is finished, you said it yourself. But how do we transfer prestige from paper to digital?

R was found. Do not underestimate the quality of our journalists. The prestige of the big media does not depend on the channel through which the news is broadcast, but on who produces it.

Q: If you go back to the newsroom today, what would you advise journalists not to be deceived by lies?

R was found. Do the usual thing right: investigate the facts in depth, while allowing time to talk to a lot of people and read a lot of documents. A journalist should not only repeat what is published on social media. Good research is required and it takes time. It’s a pity that there are bosses and managers who don’t understand this. Gentlemen: Give editors time to produce quality information. Only in this way can the newspaper distinguish itself and succeed today.

Q: Why did you want to be a journalist?

R was found. Because he was always interested in what is happening in politics, what is happening in other countries. Well, I was very impressed with my research Watergate. It happened when I was in college and it inspired me so much. But it wasn’t just an idea that something like this could change society. I have only thought, and continue to believe, that good information must be provided so that people can participate in democracy. This is my philosophy. I think this is our responsibility: to provide the information people deserve and need to strengthen democracy.

Q: Has the Internet changed that task?

R was found. The Internet has changed our profession a lot, but before the arrival of the Internet not everything was perfect in our profession. So we shouldn’t care. There have been journalists who have made many mistakes in the past. There were bad journalists and bad newspapers. But, of course, they did not have the ability to reach the whole world, that’s right. It must also be said that misinformation is nothing new. Lies have also spread in the past.

P. I just have to know what the title of your book will be like.

R was found. force collision. Trump, Bezos and The Washington Post.

Q: Thank you, teacher of journalists.

R was found. Thank you. We wish you the best of luck for EL PERIÓDICO DE ESPAÑA on its anniversary.

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