Cultural Journalism and the Digital Challenge

By Yasel Toledo Garnache on March 30, 2021

There are many challenges for cultural journalism in Cuba. In addition to the traditional ones, there are others related to digital platforms, social networks, and a complex communicative and social network that demands an increasingly deeper exercise of opinion and criticism on artistic and cultural issues in general.

The first thing will always be knowledge, self-improvement, and the ability to analyze works and creative events. It is very difficult for a media professional to have all the tools for the deep reflection and analysis of theater, dance, literature, cinema, heritage, visual arts, etc.; that is why it is so relevant to work together and include people who already practice criticism in other spaces -or have the training to do so- such as playwrights, musicologists or authors with prestige -even if it means they must learn the dynamics of the media and journalism-.

Its realization with quality is of vital importance for creators and the formation of audiences. It is not a matter of saying “I am going to be a critic” or “I will do good cultural journalism”, it does not depend only on the purpose or pressing magic buttons. It is essential to really have the knowledge and professional skills to do it, because with ill-advised attempts we could have negative effects, such as confusion and erroneous imaginaries.

In the present context, it is essential to promote cultural journalism in digital platforms, with the maximum use of hypermedia grammar, due to the debates that usually take place in those spaces from different positions. There, the deep and argumentative exercise of criticism is also important.

We have a lot to do in that regard. In Cuba, the challenge of making the most of the web world is twofold due to the unfavorable dynamics that persist in the traditional, with professionals, creators, and audiences unaccustomed to the exercise of “uncomfortable” criteria. Criticism is always going to be a bother. It is almost impossible for any author to applaud with happiness when hearing or reading criticism of one of his or her works. And to this is added the need to master other digital tools and codes. Teamwork seems to be the most effective way to take faster steps in this direction, taking advantage of the potential of each one.

It is good to see some positive examples of initiatives such as podcasts and hypermedia profiles in media such as Juventud Rebelde newspaper and El Caimán Barbudo magazine, but there is still a long way to go. Here there are still no experiences such as you tubers or influencers on these topics in the social networks.

We believe that any approach to art or artistic events from a communicational point of view should not be considered cultural journalism, because it also implies knowledge, ethics, and analysis.

Already in the article “Making a better cultural journalism does not depend only on the forms”, published in June 2020, we commented on the need to change productive routines and find more attractive ways in the presentation of contents, although there are other essences too.

During the most recent edition of the Rubén Martínez Villena Workshop and Contest, organized by the Hermanos Saíz Association, professionals of several generations debated a lot about this topic and other challenges of the Cuban communication panorama. Isolated attempts are not enough, we must articulate with strategies that also favor the improvement and multiplicity of visions. The AHS and UNEAC are fundamental in this endeavor.

Cultural journalism is becoming increasingly important, as a magnifying glass that analyzes, unravels, orients and guides. It goes beyond art, literature… It is transversal to the phenomena of society as a whole, which is why we must cultivate it and raise it always in the best possible way.

Source: La Jiribilla, translation Resumen Latinoamericano – English