Call it what you want. On paper or on the screen, read or listened to, journalism will continue to exist as long as human beings do not lose their curiosity to be informed or their taste for being surprised.
Journalism, like poetry, cannot die because, as the philosopher and Nobel Prize for Literature Francois Mauriac said, they are “the morning prayer of the secular man.” Curiosity exists even in animals. Let them ask my cats if not lullaby and Babel.
Our world, with the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) is experiencing a moment of existential crisis that I would not call extinction but rather a transfer of time. A change as profound as or more than when writing, the wheel, the motor, electricity, the moon landing or atomic energy appeared. And now the digital world.
From the clay tablets of ancient Mesopotamia to parchments, or the revolution of writing on paper with Gutenberg, human beings felt the need to read and learn, to satisfy their curiosity, to decipher the mystery. And he will continue to do so in whatever support.
One day we will perhaps read the newspaper on our bedroom wall or in the palm of our hands. The supports will change, but our curiosity to know and interpret the news, read life, will remain intact.
I am sometimes asked if I do not regret having already worked for more than half a century in a newspaper. No, because journalism, so criticized today, was and will always be, with all its possible changes, the daily bread of Homo sapiens. They say that the networks will kill him with their fake news, his false freedom of expression, his speed in delivering the news that the newspapers cannot afford because they need, if they are real, to verify their veracity.
It is curious and symptomatic that when someone gives us important news today, we immediately wonder where they have read or heard it. If it has been in the networks or in a solvent newspaper or radio, in whose seriousness we still trust.
To the young journalism students who today ask me if such a profession or trade is worth it, as they used to say, I answer yes. That perhaps it is worth more than ever, since the news, the unmanipulated, passes even more unscathed, through traditional newspapers, whatever their support, and I would even say their ideology, than on the networks.
Right now I follow the hard and sad war of Russia in the Ukraine through the chronicles and analysis of my colleagues who are experiencing it heroically on the battlefield. I trust their seriousness and professionalism and that they will not try to deceive me, something that does not always happen to me in networks that are not only politicized but so many times explicitly manipulated.
The journalist as such, if it is true that he is tied to the internal rules of his Book of style, he is often offered the opportunity to live reality in the flesh. Journalism can be risky, but it can also be rewarding.
After almost half a century of traditional journalism and as a correspondent for this newspaper in Italy, the Vatican and Brazil, which allowed me to travel the world several times, so many have insisted on writing my memoirs. I have always refused because they are part of the work of my profession. And each life is a story that deserves to be told. All.
Today, however, I wanted to tell one of the moments from the beginning of my profession that left the most impression on me. It was in 1980, during the earthquake that took place in Italy, in Campania and Basilicata, with the sad balance of 3,000 dead, 7,500 injured and 280,000 homeless, in a handkerchief of territory.
The founder and then director of this newspaper, Juan Luis Cebrián, advised me not to go to the earthquake site because of the danger it posed. I disobeyed him. I was in Rome, two hundred kilometers from Naples, from where I should have flown to the scene of the tragedy still raw.
My disappointment was, upon arriving in Naples, that there was no possibility of flying to the earthquake site. I finally got a place in a military helicopter but without radar and therefore dangerous. They stressed to me how dangerous it was. I accepted the same. This allowed me to experience the last tremors of the earthquake for a few hours, listen to the screams of those buried alive, and houses crumble before my eyes. As well as observing the desperation of the families looking for each other as in a gigantic hell in the flesh.
On the way back, the pilot of the military helicopter asked me if I could carry a four-year-old boy on my lap, who died in the earthquake, and whose family could not be found.
The child’s corpse traveled on my knees waiting to arrive at the Naples airport and hand it over to the authorities who would be in charge of finding his family. Out of respect for the creature that not even in my dreams could I forget, I never wanted to write the story.
Today, on the eve of my 91st birthday and more than half a century of journalism, I would like, however, as the best gift, to have here, for lunch next to my family and friends, that little boy that I thought I was carrying dead on my knees. Yes, because the best thing about the story is that later I found out that at the airport the doctors who examined the little boy discovered that he was alive. He had been saved.
Journalism is also that and therefore cannot die. As poets will not be able to die or stop creating if we don’t want our world to really go out.
We are made not only of biblical mud, but also of the eternal desire for news to be told, even though sometimes it hurts even the owners of the media, with the eternal decalogue of the classic questions: what, who, how, when, where and why. Yes, but without lying.
That the poets do not die
That the poets do not die
so that the light does not go out.
If the poets die
who will tell us that the moon smiles
and who write music
the stones of the river
That the poets do not die
so as not to have to bury tenderness,
or to hide the truth.
Let them stay alive
They are the last holy note
embedded in the living skin of the soul.
when they pawn
when the concert goes off,
the verses of the poets
who do not fear the truth,
they will continue to resurrect the light
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