Conference on Journalism
American Embassy School, New Delhi, 19th of October 2011
Hi, Namaste, how are you doing today?
My name is Igor. This is both a Russian name and from the Basque Country, the region situated in the north of Spain where I was born and which is unfortunately famous for being the place of the only open armed conflict in Europe (one day after ETA announced the end of the violence).
Well yes, we are also known for being welcoming people and having a good taste for food, just as almost every culture.
A bit more than a decade ago I was sitting like you in the high school, doing my exams and starting to think about what I should do in the future for earning my life.
It was such a difficult decision. It took me so much time to be sure about it. Should I do what I want to do? Should I do what I am expected to do? Maybe some of you have these kind of thoughts nowadays.
My parents gave me freedom of choice. They didn’t try to influence me so much. And let the heart decide. Now I am a professional journalist working for the Spanish public news Agency EFE. Since almost one year ago I work here in New Delhi, where the South Asian bureau is based. Before I was posted for three years in neighboring Pakistan and before that I was freelancing during two years in Germany.
It is funny. When I started the 4 years degree in Journalism at the University in Barcelona, many of the professors there were active or former journalists and some of them tried to convince us, the students, about the very bad choice of studying journalism. Even when they loved it.
There were several reasons for that. Here I mention two of the principal ones I used to listen:
FIRSTLY) It is not a golden mine. It is actually very hard to find a pleasant place in this profession. There is too much competition and a very small offer for a high demand.
SECONDLY) If you really want to become a journalist by all means, you can study anyways something else and enter later this world. Supporters of this point argue: “Journalists know a bit of everything and never much about a specific issue, therefore if you are specialized, it will be better”.
The truth is that, somehow, despite these negative points of view from some insiders, this profession has had traditionally a certain level of mysticism among the society and, at least in Spain, has been one of the most demanded studies at the universities.
I situate myself in a middle point between the critics and the defenders. Perhaps I am a bit romantic because I think that you have to believe in what you do and like it, and this will be the only way to do something well in every field, especially in journalism.
This profession means dedication and sacrifice. It becomes very much a part of your life, often beyond the working time. I usually say we know when we start but not at all when we finish.
The day can be quiet for hours until something important happens and then it is when your day is actually starting. The real news is never expected.
Believe me, this has broken many plans in my life, but the point is that when news arise it doesn’t feel like an obligation to cover them. It feels like a necessity.
What do you need to become a reporter? There are certainly so many different qualities and probably nobody has all of them at the same time. From my opinion, to be honest and perseverant helps a lot.
And I would say one of the most important ones is to have an infinite curiosity to find out new things, to know always more, to listen and observe with attention what is in front of you and nearby.
Information is a priced value. It is a right. A former boss of mine used to say that we journalists have to be the ears and eyes for the readers who are not in the place where facts happen.
Not only this, we have to be a clear voice able to explain those things we saw and heard in a proper way, to make them understandable, even under severe pressures. We have to choose and leave apart.
Today, journalism is changing quickly along with the technology revolution. The Internet and other new findings have made many aspects of our work easier but have also changed the traditional trends of the consumers and brought the press into a deep crisis.
The coming years will be very crucial to redefine the basic concept of the media and our roll in the society. In this difficult scenario I want to remember a phrase someone said some time ago:
“The worst point of the death of journalism is that somebody will have to tell it” (lo peor de la muerte del periodismo es que alguien tendrá que contarla).
Thank you very much for your patience, I am now open to your questions.
*Borrador del discurso ofrecido ante estudiantes de entre 14 y 18 años de la escuela americana de Nueva Delhi, que había organizado unas jornadas sobre diferentes profesiones. En mi caso me tocó hablar de periodismo durante diez minutos y responder preguntas otros diez en tres sesiones distintas que contaron con gran asistencia de estudiantes, muchos de ellos muy curiosos. "¿Tienes una hora límite para enviar noticias? ¿Cómo consigues tus fuentes? ¿Quién decide lo que se debe publicar? ¿Es peligroso ser periodista? ¿Es difícil? ¿Se viaja mucho? Estas fueron algunas de las cuestiones que intenté responder.