The Press Is to Inform, Not Manipulate

Pedro Campos

A reader trying to find the news in Granma. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — The Granma newspaper in its issue of Saturday, July 14, ran a headline on its front page, but with no details. It read: “Information from the Ministry of Public Health,” with a small “2” below this to indicate that the text was on the second page of daily.

Then, on the first page, there appeared a large headline that read: “Florida Experiencing Tuberculosis Epidemic as the Governor Closes Hospital Where Cases Have Occurred.” This took up around a fourth of the entire page, with this report explaining that the epidemic in the US involved 99 detected cases and 13 deaths.

Turning to the second page to find the news item, it officially reported on an outbreak of cholera in Cuba with 158 infected and 3 deaths.

Previously they had reported 85 people infected with what they referred to as “vibrio cholerae” virus, which is only understood by specialists, instead of calling the disease by its common name. Since that earlier date there had been an increase of 73 cases.

Granma’s information seems more focused on diverting the attention of its readers to the TB epidemic in Florida than informing the Cuban people about the existence of cholera here in Cuba.

Those who run the newspaper and write its editorials don’t realize that this crude form of manipulating information only serves to call into question the truthfulness of the article on cholera in Cuba. It makes people question why the journalists want to minimize the outbreak here and describe it as being limited to the city of Manzanillo.

The official organ of the Communist Party of Cuba seems to have forgotten that it has been a long time since it has served as the sole source of information for Cubans. Other media sources give other information different from what Granma reports, and they’re talking about the presence of cholera in other regions.

With this brief news note in Granma, the placement of its article on the second page and the paper’s clearly manipulative intention, the other reports — which may be false — gain credibility.

Granma needs to be more careful with these sensitive issues and it should keep in mind that the Cuban people learned to read between the lines a long time ago.

These things happen when the main objective isn’t to inform but to divert the public’s attention to other subjects, a form of manipulation that has been widely criticized as a common practice by the Western corporate media.

I hope this comment helps the party press in some way.

To contact Pedro Campos, write: [email protected]

9 thoughts on “The Press Is to Inform, Not Manipulate

  • Hello from NYC! I am not a doctor, so I am going to read up on the subject. I hope nobody dies from cholera.

  • The problems with the Cuban press are similar to all problems elsewhere in the country: you cannot be judge and jury at the same trial. Nodoby likes shit being dumped in their garden.

  • That’s the thing. The methods used don’t fool anyone. The result is a press that is a complete joke to the public. It’s to the point that when they dare publish anything even remotely interesting, nobody takes them seriously.

  • One thing that always bothers me about the official Cuban press is its bad habit of calling other kettles black. I often see news pointing out something negative in another country (especially if it’s the US). Of course if a country is an ally of Cuba, then the news has a positive spin, or is at least neutral. However, with so many problems that exist in Cuba, sometimes it seems an insult to us Cubans to present news with that triumphalist tone (particularly on the television news and in the Granma newspaper, which are the worst).

    I agree that the press always respond to a class or a particular social group, and — living in a capitalist country — I sometimes doubt its complete impartiality. However, I’ve seen journalists who have very good reports, with opposing views and opinions, and presenting the facts for the viewer to draw their own conclusions. This is reporting where you can see they’ve done good investigative work, journalism that raises questions that reach the root of the problem.

    Personally, I prefer a more independent press, and if they have to publically present an official who didn’t do their job or committed a crime, they give the name and don’t cover things up with the secrectismo that even Raul Castro himself has criticized.

  • Time and again, Cubans will repeat how smart Cubans are and how much they really know despite the lack of official information and at the very least all of the MIS-information. In the memorable words of Forrest Gump, “stupid is as stupid does”. If Cubans are so smart and so well-informed, why do they remain oppressed? No one claims the North Koreans to be well-educated and world-wise yet Cubans are stride for stride with the North Koreans in their backwardness. What good is all this literacy and culture doing for Cuba if it doesn’t make them free?

  • I don’t know anything about the “story of the sofa,” but would like to respond to your comment.

    The traditional idea of Marxism that the private entrepreneur is automatically alien to socialism is incorrect, and very damaging to construction of a dynamic socialist society. Private entrepreneurs “might” act contrary to the public good, but are much more likely to act in the public good, for the building of socialism, if the transformationary party in power does not disrespect them and lump them in with the monopoly bourgeoisie.

    The socialist project should be a strategic alliance of the three main productive classes, the proletariat, intelligentsia and small bourgeoisie. When this is the case, these three classes can merge together, over several generations, through more and more direct, democratic ownership of productive property.

    This strategic merging process, based on private property rights under socialist state power, is the only viable route to a classless, stateless society.

  • This reminds me of the story of the sofa…

    To me one of the major problems facing private entrepreneurs in Cuba is the lack of a wholesale market with competitive prices and assortments. As long as Cuban imports are only state managed and they have a monopoly (read CIMEX), there will be no free competition and the problem will remain. Native ingenuity has been running its head up against absurd state regulations, but this is a heavy blow. However, I think the corruption in Customs will continue, prices will rise and eventually the customers will pay more, because there’s no other choice. The Cuban government, rather than trying to squeeze emigrants and recipients of packages, should allow licensing and private import companies. With that the state would have to raise the bar, but eventually the market would come out ahead. In other words, this would be pure competition, like how it works in countries like Viet Nam and China – whose successes are so celebrated by the nomenklatura.

  • For the first time, I’m 100 percent in agreement with you, Campos.

  • That is one of the reasons that things can continue so bad [in the country], given the misinformation that exists. In addition, the methods they use are very outdated. Technology and its advances show how ineffective they are. In short, they are croquette sandwiches [something no one wants].

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