Lessons in manufactured news

Pascual Serrano talks about who is really clamoring for change in Cuba, and surprise! It’s not the Cubans.

The Clamor

Pascual Serrano – Rebelión and pascualserrano.net

Translation: Machetera

A May 8th report on the awarding of a prize by the El País newspaper, is titled, in this same paper, “Clamor for Change in Cuba.” It reminded me of the time I worked for ABC and the recurrent use of the word “clamor” by its director at the time, Luis María Ansón. Whenever he wanted to denounce a case of corruption, however trivial, or ask the administration for a particular investment in infrastructure, Ansón chose titles such as “A Clamor from Citizens Outraged by the Case…” or “A Clamor Over Demands for a New Freeway Lane to La Coruña.” Obviously, upon walking out into the street, no clamor was visible; it only existed in the mind of the newspaper’s director.

The strategy is quite common in the media: when they have an ideological line, a political position, or a demand they don’t acknowledge in their editorials but rather are trying to present their crusade as though it were a reflection of a massive demand by the citizenry, hence, “a clamor.” It is a clear example of intellectual cowardice and audience deception, considering that they do not present it as their own idea or political proposal, but rather, try to make us believe that it’s the citizenry who is part of this position and demanding action, without any hard evidence to sustain it. It’s like when they title something, “The Spanish Ask…” or “Cubans Demand…” without bothering to add any kind of serious statistic whatsoever to back it up. I remember a headline in a Venezuelan paper that said that the Turks were worried about having an Islamic president, two weeks after the majority had voted him in. The only one who was worried was the director of the Venezuelan paper; had the Turks been so worried they would have chosen someone other than the person they elected.

In the case of El País, it has bestowed its prize on a person who calls for change in Cuba, according to what the jury members who selected her have said, which means the demand for change is shared, thus the clamor. The Royal Academy dictionary has as its first definition for clamor: a cry or a vigorously and forcefully uttered voice.” Since the cry or voice is defined in the singular, it’s enough that one person grants their vigorous and forceful voice to something in order to create a clamor. Therefore, undoubtedly, there is a clamor in favor of change in Cuba, another in favor of no change, another that asks that Fidel Castro be granted sainthood, another that asks that he be shot. A paper will take that which best suits its proposed political outlook and write the headline; which is what El País has done.

Still, maybe it has to do with the second Royal Academy definition, “a vehement outcry from a multitude.” In that case, it’s simply a lie. The paper has not found any kind of crowd; it’s only the jury members who gave the prize to someone asking for change and those who are celebrating the granting of the prize, who are asking for change.

And in more eye-opening news, the article is subtitled: “The Ortega y Gasset prizes recognize professionals who fight against corruption and lies.”

Final addendum:

The article says “it also questions the clampdown on reporters in countries such as Mexico, from where two of the winners come.” They forgot another journalist, Carmen Aristegui (1), fired from W Radio for her critical attitude. W is a station owned by Televisa and by chance, Grupo Prisa, which also owns El País and the prize sponsors.

(1) The journalist dismissed by Prisa and Televisa speaks of freedom of expression and free enterprise: The Rights of the Audience, Carmen Aristegui F. (January 19, 2008.)

Machetera is a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.

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