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Rosa María Calaf: “The great risk is believing ourselves informed when we are only entertained”

2024-02-21T22:32:35.223Z

Highlights: Rosa María Calaf is a veteran Spanish journalist and co-founder of TV-3. She spent almost four decades at TVE, leaving the public network in 2009. RTVE has just released, within the Imprescindibles series, a documentary about her, Intermediaria de Guardia. “The great risk is believing ourselves informed when we are only entertained”, she says. Calaf: “There are powerful forces campaigning against critical and independent journalism”


The veteran TVE journalist, co-founder of TV-3, reviews her extraordinary career, tells how she experienced the 'procés' and gives her opinion on the controversy over Inés Hernand's intervention at the Goya


Rosa María Calaf (Barcelona, ​​78 years old) has placed 183 pins on the map, that is, she only has 13 countries left in the world to visit.

She even entered hermetic North Korea, which has no inhabitants, but prisoners and could well be counted as another planet.

RTVE has just released, within the Imprescindibles series, a documentary about her,

Intermediaria de Guardia

.

“Víctor López, the director, has done an incredible job recovering very old images.

And in this country so fond of posthumous tributes, I am grateful to be able to tell them in life.”

The veteran correspondent, who helped found the Catalan regional channel TV3 and spent almost four decades at TVE, left the public network in 2009, but she is not retiring from journalism.

“It would be like retiring from life.”

She now gives talks at institutes and universities.

“I feel like I should share everything I have learned.”

Ask

.

In his first trips, he left the dictatorship to freedom.

He says in the documentary that under Franco he learned a tool that was going to be one of his hallmarks: irony.

Answer.

Irony was a way of looking for loopholes to tell what you wanted to tell.

That required complicity with the viewer, who knew the conditions in which you were working, who knew that they had to read between the lines.

It was the way to get past the censors.

Now the opposite happens: the viewer believes that he is very informed when he is very entertaining, that is, distracted.

That complicity that existed between the journalist and the citizen no longer exists because there are powerful forces campaigning against critical and independent journalism.

Q.

What are those forces?

A.

There have always been interests so that journalism does not fulfill its function of telling what it does not want to be known.

But now they are much more effective in this work of distraction and manipulation.

We feed more on emotional criteria than on knowledge.

The repetition of falsehoods is much cheaper than reasoned reflection.

The political class has been swallowed up by the economy.

Those who must guarantee freedom of expression and the right to information not only do not work for it, but they put obstacles in the way because they are not interested in independent and critical journalism.

Q.

Before journalism caught you, your plan was to pursue a diplomatic career, that's why you studied Law.

She must have met many diplomats.

Telling about life in other countries, could she also see how the external vision of Spain changed?

On the attempted rape she suffered in Yugoslavia: “When I returned I didn't tell anyone.

It seemed to me a lack of respect for the local women and journalists who suffered this every day.”

A.

Yes. And it has changed, extraordinarily, for the better.

Before, Spain did not count for anything, the image was folkloric, the country was unknown beyond the party and the siesta, although we have always liked it.

Over time it has acquired a more relevant position, but it still does not have the consideration it deserves.

Many stereotypes and ignorance remain.

There is much to do.

Q.

Journalism is a craft, and therefore, it is learned.

What are the fundamental tools, the ones that have served you the most?

A.

You learn, like all jobs, in the gerund, by doing it, and having very clear parameters, knowing that it is a service to the community, based on respect, the desire for dissemination and the defense of human rights.

The essential tools are rigor, reflection, independence, training.

And never lose sight of the fact that you are simply an intermediary, a bridge, never a protagonist.

Someone who brings together different or not so different realities and people.

Believing that you are something else is tremendously dangerous and harmful.

P.

_

Confused people abound.

A.

Yes, because we are generating a culture in which what impresses takes precedence over what matters, that bases success on external beauty, not internal beauty, on signs of material wealth, not moral wealth, and that uses popularity as synonymous with recognition.

These currents of banality distort what journalistic work should be.

Rosa María Calaf, in the Philippines, recording the report with which she said goodbye to TVE in 2009. l Miguel Torán (EFE)

Q.

When you were starting out on television, you had a fight over a miniskirt.

Why were miniskirts scary?

A.

In 1970, in that gray and repressive Spain, the miniskirt broke with the feminine image that Francoism disseminated: submissive, invisible... On TVE there were wills for and against.

Fortunately, José Joaquín Marroquí [radio and television producer] took on the challenge.

I did not walk my path alone.

It was thanks to the efforts of many and many.

Q.

What other episodes of machismo do you remember and how long did they last?

R.

_

They still last, but they are more subtle now.

Then you found rejection.

Sometimes she was an intolerable intruder, other times they treated you with condescension, paternalism, or surprise: 'What is she doing here?'.

Once, on board a military plane that was dropping humanitarian aid over the Sahel, there was a technical problem and the Belgian military said it was because they had let a woman on.

It was 1975. And many times I went to a dinner for diplomats, businessmen... and they told me: “Oh, they haven't introduced us!

You are whose wife?

That was very common.

It wasn't you, it was his wife.

Q.

Has this type of situation happened to you more outside or inside Spain?

R.

_

In Spain at the beginning they spent all their time and abroad, in that period, much less.

The difficulty of working as a woman depends on the democratic quality of the place where you are working.

But I have had the enormous advantage of being able to move in the feminine environments of the most intransigent, patriarchal and sexist countries, and that is where you really find out what is happening because it is not the official version of what they want to tell you, it is the day day by day, what you want your audience to know.

Those women who have let me enter their world are extraordinary and very brave because they risked their lives on it.

Q.

You were also very brave.

A few years ago she said that in Yugoslavia, in one of her coverages, they tried to rape her.

What did she do then, when she returned?

A.

At the time I didn't tell anyone.

Not even in my house.

It was very difficult for me to tell it because it seemed disrespectful to the local women and journalists to whom this happened every day.

In my case, furthermore, he ultimately did not succeed.

Many years later, some colleagues convinced me to tell it to show how power is not committed enough so that safe journalism can be done.

Every time less.

We have gone from being observers to being targets to eliminate.

About the 'procés' on TV3: “I experienced it with a lot of pain.

“It was a turbulence of opinions not based on facts, but on the abyss of emotions, a tremendously dangerous mixture.”

Q.

Your first correspondent was in the US, during the Reagan era and the beginning of what you call spectacle politics.

Has that gotten worse?

A.

Yes.

Many trends today are born at that time.

Trump is an improved version, in quotes, of that populist, reactionary, autocratic tendency.

He belittles institutions, attacks independent and critical journalism and disdains social solidarity.

That is the program of these types of leaders and it is scary because, despite being absolutely undemocratic, they come to power through the polls.

Q.

The News Council of what was your home for so many years released a statement a few days ago to show its rejection of the attitude of a TVE collaborator who flattered the President of the Government during the Goya gala.

She, Inés Hernand, stated that it was an exaggerated controversy and that her job is to entertain.

What do you think?

A.

It seems really good to me that there has been controversy, that it has generated displeasure.

The serious thing would be if information and entertainment continued to be mixed on the same level and people no longer realized it.

That is the big risk right now: that we believe we are informed when we are really entertained.

I think that, indeed, there was a mix there and it is another example of how entertainment has invaded information.

hahahahahahaha presiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiui pic.twitter.com/wsGAWMyc6Z

— InésHernand (@InesRisotas) February 11, 2024

Q.

You say in the documentary: “I conceived TV-3, I saw it born, that's why it makes me so angry when it behaves badly and I'm so satisfied when it behaves well.”

How did you experience the

process

?

A.

With a lot of pain.

It is as legitimate to be an independentist as it is not to be.

The problem is the lack of respect for what others think.

The misuse of information in many cases hurt me because along the way they forgot about ethics and independence, that is, they were not fulfilling the objective of journalism, which is to give citizens all the elements to decide.

It was a turbulence of opinions not based on facts, but on the abyss of emotions, a tremendously dangerous mixture.

If journalism cannot perform its function properly, we will reach a simulacrum of democracy

Q.

Militant or swindler journalism, artificial intelligence, precariousness... on a risk scale, how would you order all these threats to the profession and how do you think they should be combated?

R.

_

Artificial intelligence is a tool that can be extremely positive and, with perverse use, extremely negative for the ultimate goal, which is to build a just society.

Precarious journalism is sick journalism and we must fight with everything against those who want to make it precarious because in order for it to fulfill its service function, it requires training, resources and, of course, independence.

Without all that, there will be no free journalism.

And if there is no free journalism, the foundations of democracy shake because journalism is the sensitive nerve of any democratic society.

If journalism cannot perform its function properly, we will reach a simulacrum of democracy in which autocratic leaders elected at the polls will be able to destroy it with many conveniences from within.

Q.

You criticize that journalism tells about crises, but often not what happened before or what happens after.

There is a surplus of historical days, a voracious consumption of current events...

A.

Yes. That is another distraction technique.

Making people believe that the last thing is the most important is a fallacy and distracts from what is really important, which may have happened five days or five months ago.

That is one of the big problems: specific events are reported, not processes.

And what happens never happens because yes, it comes from something.

You have to ask yourself where, where and who it benefits from.

All of those questions take time.

The journalist Rosa Maria Calaf, last Monday, in Barcelona.

massimiliano minocri

Q.

Of the hundreds of interviews you have done, which characters surprised you the most or were different than you expected?

A.

They have almost never been heads of government-type characters, but rather people who dedicate themselves to solidarity work, the defense of human rights or who fight for reconciliation and peace in the most difficult circumstances.

And above all, the women that I have met around the world, columns of the social construction of their communities.

They are almost always seen only as victims, rather than protagonists.

Tonight we review the career of Rosa María Calaf, a reporter who has marked an era.

Today she is a reference for new generations of journalists.

pic.twitter.com/h3G1q4DA4r

— TVE Essentials (@Impres_TVE) February 18, 2024

La Calaf, intermediaria deguard

, directed by Víctor López, is a documentary by El frac del frame in co-production with RTVE and in collaboration with Deer Watson Films and Capital Radio.

It can be seen on RTVE play.


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Source: elparis

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