18/01/2013 | La culpa de casi todo lo que pasa en la Argentina política de hoy la tienen los editores, argumenta Marcelo J. García. Y recomienda dejar de leer titulares. Darín, Randazzo, Clarín y el New York Times. La necesidad de que el gremio periodístico se una en torno a la aprobación de una cláusula de conciencia para la profesión.
Philip Roth confessed in an interview with the Financial Times not long ago that he had stopped reading fiction. “I wised up,” he said. What if it were the time for news-junkie Argentines to wise up too and stop reading newspaper headlines?
The vast majority of the public is in(ill)formed by headlines. True, this has traditionally been the case. Headline writing is one of the most difficult tasks of modern journalism. Headlines need to be informative and clever, short and substantial, poetical and concrete — all at once. Headline writing is the prime job of editors. And it is the editors who are getting the blame (they sometimes deserve) for twisting the often contextualized, balanced and complete pieces of information that most journalist here and elsewhere produce for the news-hungry public every day. Who has time to read the entire piece anyway? Headlines can do the trick — right or wrong.
You can ask Ricardo Darín, the Oscar laureate actor whose words unleashed a Twitter outburst two weeks ago by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Darín gave a 3,000-word interview to the variety magazine Brando, but mainstream press editors focused on just a handful of those words for their headline: “Somebody should explain the Kirchners’ wealth.” That was not even the interview’s original headline (which however also attracted the President’s attention): “We are a childish country.”
Darín, who has been in hot water after the President’s rebuttal, said this week he was not happy with the editors’ job. “I felt used,” he said. “I understand the editorial needs, but I don’t agree with them.” The President is “right” to have taken the entire thing personal, added Darín, because the headline carried by the press did not reflect “the spirit” of what he had said in the original interview: that all public servants should be clear about their wealth, not just the President. “They had their own editorial reasons to include that line, somebody turned that into a headline and then it all snowballed.” Darín went on, in a media frenzy that coincided with the premier of his new movie: “I am not the one who writes the headlines. But when you choose a headline, you need to explain where the headline comes from. Otherwise it is a fabrication.”
The marvel of the heated debate about media, press and politics in Argentina over the last few years is that everyone, from celebrities like Darín to the viewers of the pro-government primetime show 6,7,8 and the critics of the government’s political communications policy, seems to have something to say about the way journalism is practiced.
If you are just a consumer of headlines, there was another clarification this week you should hear. There will be no “revolution” of Argentina’s urban railway system within 60 days, as Interior and Transport Minister Florencio Randazzo was quoted as saying this week. Randazzo gave a beachside interview to Tiempo Argentino whose headline — as virtually every second headline in the staunchly pro-government daily — took a swipe at the government’s main media foe Grupo Clarín: “If Grupo Clarín picks a (presidential) candidate, Argentina will go back in 2001.”
But the editors of the dailies Clarín and La Nación did not agree with their Tiempo colleagues’ pick and instead surfaced a line about the government’s public transport policy, which is under scrutiny after a train crash at the Once train station killed 52 people a year ago. “Randazzo promises a revolution in the railway system in 60 days,” the papers flagged. Randazzo rushed to deny having promised anything that big at all: “What I said is that there will be noticeable changes in 60 days.” The press, said the minister, “has a right to criticize, but not to tweak information.”
The tweaking is sometimes simple mistakes. Via Twitter this week, the President exposed one of those in the daily Clarín. Her picture with the Castro brothers in Cuba last weekend included a woman, who the paper said in a caption was Argentina’s Foreign Trade Secretary Beatriz Paglieri. She was actually Fidel Castro’s wife. “Hatred blurs their eyes and their minds,” tweeted the President.
But it is not only the press. TV news editors also engaged this week in some sloppiness. Grupo Clarín’s cable news channel Todo Noticias aired a breaking news piece about a kidnap followed by the murder of a businessman in the Greater Buenos Aires district of Lanús that had actually happened in 2007! After the news “recycling” was exposed, the channel aired an apology and said it had been “an involuntary mistake.” The mayor of Lanús, Darío Díaz Pérez, a national government ally, did not buy the mistake line and complained about a campaign by the media giant against him.
The way things are going, Argentina publishers might want to follow the steps of the New York Times, whose corrections editor Greg Brock has said the paper will soon launch an online corrections form for readers to report possible errors in the stories. Meanwhile journalists, who are often victims of their own trigger-happy headline-slapping editors, should be advised to push for the approval in Congress of a bill to introduce a conscience clause for journalists so that they can take out their bylines when they disagree with editors’ treatment of their copy.
I have a real issue with this guy posting about gintetg out of oneÃ¢Â€Â™s mortgage. I thought this was set up for commercial real estate agents not residential? It doesnÃ¢Â€Â™t talk about how to stop foreclosure, he is simply selling his services. Very Inappropriate from my perspective.