Tomás Eloy Martínez Interview in El País

There is an excellent interview with Tomás Eloy Martínez in El País Sunday. The interview covers his thoughts on journalism, especially new journalism, and how the Internet is changing journalism, mostly for the bad. It also covers how he got his start at a journalist—it paid more than an academic career and had better prospects. He also talks about his approach to writing La Novela de Peron and Santa Evita. For the former he wanted to use the tools of fiction to tell a true story, and in the later he wanted to use the tools of journalism to tell a completely fake story.

He says he thinks that literature should be disobedience:

If literature is not disobedient it is not literature. Literature, like journalism, at root are acts of transgression, ways of looking a little bit past your limits, past your nose. Everything I have written in my life are acts in a search for freedom. Nothing gave me more pleasure when I was publishing my first articles en La Gaceta de Tucumán than my mother would say to my sisters: “We have to go to mass to pray for the soul of Tomás who is completely lost.

“La literatura si no es desobediencia no es. La literatura, como el periodismo, son centralmente actos de transgresión, maneras de mirar un poco más allá de tus límites, de tus narices. Todo lo que he escrito en la vida son actos de búsqueda de libertad. Nada me daba más placer -cuando publicaba mis primeros artículos en La Gaceta de Tucumán- que mi madre le dijera a mis hermanas: “Tenemos que ir a misa a rezar por el alma de Tomás, que está totalmente perdida”.

About the Internet and journalism he isn’t the most hopefull.

Q. But there already has been yellow journalism.

A. It existed and it exists. What happened is that this potential multiplied the poser of the yellow journalists. Every day we see signs of this type of journalism that manifests itself en the form of an accusation. I wrote a column about the carnage that got hold of Ingrid Betancourt and Clara Rojas when they were liberated from the FARC. Serious journalists with a long career added fuel to the fire of gossip about the intimacy of the exhostages.

Q. How would the limits be established?

A. This is the basic work of editors. […]

P. Pero ya había periodismo amarillo.

R. Lo había y lo hay. Lo que pasa es que esto potencia, multiplica, la fuerza del periodista amarillo. Todos los días vemos señales de este tipo de periodismo que se manifiesta en forma de acusación. Escribí una columna sobre la carnicería que se hizo con Ingrid Betancourt y con Clara Rojas cuando fueron liberadas por las FARC. Periodistas muy serios, con una larga trayectoria, añadieron leña al fuego de los chismes sobre la intimidad de las ex rehenes.

P. ¿Cómo tendrían que establecerse los límites?

R. Este es un trabajo básico de los editores. […]

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