The director of EL MUNDO participates in the Olavide Summer Courses and defends “quality journalism”, “the one that provides added value”, to face the risks for democratic states

Francisco Rosell and Ignacio Escolar, at the headquarters of the Pablo de Olavide University in Carmona (Seville).GOGO LOBATO

The Covid crisis has tested the ability to resist and redefine themselves in many companies and has precipitated some processes that are already being implemented. Also in the media, where adaptation has taken place at full speed, in the midst of a storm of audiences, a revolution in consumer habits and a general drop in advertising revenues as a consequence of the stoppage of economic activity. In the words of Francisco Rosell, director of EL MUNDO, companies in the sector must now overcome what he called the No’s Ark syndrome: “The storm has finally passed and we found out that we survived.”

Also Ignacio Escolar, director of elDiario.es, uses a metaphor to describe the feeling that has spread in the profession as a result of the pandemic: “We have gone through a time tunnel, into which we are entering 2020, and from which we have left as if 10 or 20 years had passed. “. But what are those processes that have been accelerated? Well, on the one hand, the digitization of the reader and, on the other, the payment for content. Rosell and Escolar participated this Tuesday in a talk about the Journalism before, during and after the Covid, which is part of the program of conferences and debates of the Summer Courses that the Pablo de Olavide University organized in Carmona (Seville), and which was moderated by the president of the Seville Press Association, Rafael Rodrguez.

Rosell explained that the Covid crisis caught the editorial staff of EL MUNDO in full transition to a new model. premium and in the middle of a subscriber recruitment campaign with which the newspaper sought to guarantee its viability at a time of redefining the business in all traditional print media. The head office management decided to maintain the bet despite everything and to consolidate its offer of information of differentiated quality, which has already served to add 70,000 subscribers, “which is a still modest figure in our ambition but growing day by day” and It allows us to be “optimistic” because it “marks a change in trend,” affirmed Rosell, who admitted the “error” involved in the early stages of the technological revolution to convey to readers the message that the information could be accessed for free.

“We came from kiosk sales of 400,000 copies and the network opened a window for us through which millions of users began to enter. It seemed that we had found the golden fleece, but it was a book error that compromised the viability of the companies” , recalls the director of EL MUNDO. “I don’t care so much anymore whether paper editions are going to survive more or less; that is up to the readers. I am concerned that the essence of journalism is maintained, which is to interpret reality rigorously and prioritize the news. No matter the wineskin in which it is sold, it is the wine that has to be good, “he pointed out.” The information has to be incisive, rigorous and the journalist does not have to be obsessed with being the first but above all with giving the right better content, “he added.

Rosell told how the EL MUNDO headquarters was practically emptied as a result of the Covid protocols and how 50% of the workforce is still teleworking. But, although there are tools that allow work remotely with agility when necessary, championed newsroom synergies and teamwork.

The journalist, who recalled that he started in the profession as a The Andalusian Post, believes that the pandemic has also been an occasion for the revaluation of the power of brands and “journalism with signature”, because the reader, “more demanding”, looks for “references” in a world highly intoxicated by social networks and fake news, “that if it is false it is not news.”

Ignacio Escolar coincided with Rosell in the perverse effect of social media, they have become “a polluting industry.” Director of elDiario.es I resorted to the words of the filmmaker Nacho vigalondo to compare the first users started in the consumption of social networks “with those first smokers started in tobacco without knowing that it caused cancer”. “Society was not prepared for the effect caused by social networks; it did not have the antibodies to protect it from certain uses and undesirable effects.” “For a long time the debates on the networks have been foreign to the people,” he concluded on this matter.

Scholar also believes that the obsession with accessing massive audiences in digital editions, to the point that publishing companies offer content on their websites that would never have been put on paper due to lack of quality. And, “when readers are measured by weight, the one who commands is the advertiser,” he said.

Director of elDiario.es He also spoke of the “dictatorship of the subscriber” as one of the risks of the partner model implemented by its headend. And the effect “mirror of Snow White” that leads readers to want to read only what agrees with them and conforms to their opinions and also to their prejudices. “You have to oppose even your readers,” he insisted. But even so, he is “convinced that a good time is coming for journalism: something very close to a golden age.”

“Journalists are administrators of a foreign right that corresponds to citizens,” said Rosell, who claimed the role of the media as “an umbrella to facilitate discussion”, a framework that favors a “climate of understanding” at a time when “populisms try to discredit the press as an intermediary in the management of information.” The tension and polarization are not unique to our time, he noted, recalling the bitter farewell of a Adolfo Surez harassed in his party and in the media, but “quality journalism, which provides added value, is a guarantee for democratic states in times of enormous confusion.”


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