Cuban Journalists Demand Greater Access To Sources / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar
14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 14 March 2017 – Whether they are
independent or official, reporters share the same complaint against
institutions, which they accuse of hindering access to information and
hiding data. And for this reason all informants have the same
requirement: greater access to sources.
Gabriela Daihuela studies journalism and dreams of dedicating herself to
investigative reporting, a specialty she considers missing in Cuba's
current press. Every day she likes her career more, she says, because
"there are many issues that are worthy of being addressed that are not
The student is currently preparing a reporting piece that has taken her
to the Ministry of Education. "They have given us a huge runaround," she
confesses. "When we go to the institution, which is in charge and we
know they should be able to tell us what we want to know, they say there
is no data or they can't share it or they can't find it," she complains.
Daihuela believes that "the press should have more freedom," not only
"at the time of writing" but also to investigate. "They are closing the
doors to us, and given that we are students, I imagine that for a
journalist already graduated and recognized it must be much worse
because they must be afraid."
In the middle of last year, a group of young journalists from the
newspaper Vanguardia in Villa Clara published a letter expressing their
concerns. They complained that media bosses argue that the ideas
expressed in their articles "do not suit the interests of the country at
the current time," or that their reports and comments are "too critical."
The reporters believe that "so many decades and so many uncritical media
dedicated to presenting triumphalist visions of events have provoked a
hypercritical avalanche in Cuba.
For independent journalists the picture is even more complicated, due to
the illegality in which the alternative means exist in a country where
only the circulation of the official press is allowed.
Freelance reporter María Matienzo agrees with other colleagues in the
independent press that journalism is "a high-risk sport." The most
common obstacles she points out are the confiscation of the tools of the
trade – such as phones, recorders, computers and cameras –
interrogations and surveillance. "It's a huge psychological pressure
[but] we have to overcome it."
"Losing friends and winning others" is also part of the side effects of
the work of informing. "It's the classic profession to be declared a
pest in certain places." Always try to approach " the primary source as
much as possible," and "confirm by all possible means."
The demand for a Press Law has risen in recent months, among journalists
linked to both official and alternative media, but no legislative
changes have been announced at this time. At the next congress of the
Cuban Journalists Union (UPEC), convened for 2018, there may be an answer.
University professor Graziella Pogolotti was quoted in Juventude Rebelde
(Rebel Youth) saying that the new law "will establish, with mandatory
regulations, the institutional commitment to provide journalists with
quick and pertinent information."
In independent audiovisual media, Ignacio González has won a place with
his space En Caliente Prensa Libre (Free Press in the Heat of the
Moment). The reporter denounces the "ideological filter" that is applied
to students applying to be admitted the faculty of Journalism, a
requirement that prevents many interested people from becoming journalists.
Autonomous journalists exist in a scenario that makes it "difficult to
investigate." In addition, they are not issued "credentials or permits"
to access official events and "cannot knock at the doors of any
official," he laments. Arbitrary arrests and the confiscation of the
tools of the trade also add to the challenges they must overcome.
However, Gonzalez feels gratified when he does a report that ends up
solving problems. In his opinion, the population "has begun to
understand the importance of audiovisual journalism." However, he must
sometimes mask the face of an interviewee to avoid possible reprisals
from the authorities.
New technologies have made it possible to bring activism closer to
social networks. Kata Mojena is a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba
(UNPACU) and disseminates different information through Twitter and
YouTube, ranging from the activities carried out by the opposition
organization to social problems suffered by residents of eastern Cuba.
"Twitter is a way to make complaints with immediacy so that the media
can then broaden and corroborate the information," says the
reporter. UNPACU's structure, which is "made up of cells," facilitates
"confirming the veracity of the information received," she explained to
She also laments the continued telephone hackings she suffers in order
to prevent her from publishing content, and the difficulties in
accessing official sources to obtain their version of any
event. Ultimately, her demands do not differ much from those of a young
journalist sitting in newsroom of a state-owned media outlet.
Source: Cuban Journalists Demand Greater Access To Sources / 14ymedio,
Luz Escobar – Translating Cuba -