“It is very difficult, if not impossible, that the title of a book gives a full idea of its content and usefulness” (2006: 13). With these words Disinformation begins. Methods, aspects and solutions, the book by Professor Gabriel Galdón López that comes to be updated by the one we now review. Between the first edition of that work and this 15 years have passed and this time, we believe, the title gives some good clues about the content.
The mention of Galdón’s previous work is not capricious. With that book, several promotions of journalists have been formed in various Spanish universities. Because the plot of that book, the denunciation of an “objectivist journalism” and the proposal of a “humanistic journalism” with personalist accents, is only possible on the basis of a latent Theory of Journalism. This also explains why together with the main dissertation of the book there are well-established reflections on the figure of the journalist, the teaching of journalism and the importance of documentation.
The structure and purpose of the new work is similar to the previous one, renewed by the author’s reflections during these years, an updated critical apparatus that incorporates new voices and a less academic, more contemporary and personal style. If previously the epigraphs were limited to announcing the themes, now they suggest vital attitudes and are immediately evaluative. The work is structured in three large parts that group together ways of “looking at reality.” According to Galdón, journalism is “a matter of looks. From the gaze of intelligence and the gaze of the heart ”(p. 13). The openness and greatness of the type of gaze analyzed is increasing in each of these parts.
The first part includes “The myopic and dark glances”, which amount to four:
An “artificial and inhuman” view caused by “positivism” (p. 19) and the “fallacies of objectivity and neutrality” (p. 30).
A “disinformative” look caused by the “superficiality, partiality and informative artificiality” (p. 49), which entails “the omission of the essential” (p. 61) and the sacralization of opinion “(p. 64).
A “manipulative gaze” (p. 73), the consequences of which are explored in the text.
Finally, an “insufficient corrective gaze” (p. 125) of the other forms of journalism that have been tried during the 20th century: interpretive journalism supported by historical documentation (the one that is most extensively commented on by Galdón); investigative and precision journalism; new journalism and some other proposals, little more than listed, such as public journalism (translated here as civic, citizen or community journalism), data journalism and slow journalism. For Galdón, all these corrective glances are insufficient for “epistemological and teleological weakness” (p. 140).
The second part is announced as “the luminous gaze” (p. 153). Galdón proposes an abandonment of objectivism and a return to wisdom. It presents some “light sources of liberating truth” (p. 157), “six ethical views on Journalism and journalists” (p. 173), and some ethical concepts of journalism and journalistic information (p. 188). Finally, it justifies the ethical nature of journalism, its orientation to the personal and common good (p. 194), the anthropology that underpins it (p. 197), and the virtue of prudence as “leader of journalistic activity” (p. 209 ).
In the third part, Galdón speaks of “truth and love in the gaze” (p. 221) as the characteristic of the wise gaze. This look provides wisdom about reality, “according to its human hierarchy” (p. 223), where documentation appears again as a factor in journalistic knowledge. Secondly, from this point of view it is possible to “know how to share knowledge” (p. 257), a task that begins by sharing significant truths in the appropriate language. Galdón now presents some “appropriate communicative-discursive structures and modes” for the participation of knowledge: narrative journalism, testimonial narratives and “the columns and articles of … information” (p. 264-282). Finally and again, he talks about the value of documentation and contextualization, taking advantage of new technologies.
This last form of truth and love in the gaze culminates with an appeal to Quixotism: “Journalists, media and Quixotic adventures” (p. 291). After exposing “the gaze of the Catholic journalist” (p. 292), Galdón proposes a “decalogue of the small creative informative communities” (p. 305), of marked dialogical character:
“Both the presentation and structure of the medium and its daily information activity seeks that communicative adaptation that has as its entity and purpose to establish and maintain a true, sincere, loyal, effective and lasting dialogue with readers, attending to the diversity of their information needs and of their personal and cultural situations ”(p. 309).
According to Galdón,
«The dialogical nature of communication backs up, above all, the language used, the narrative structures, the emphasis placed on the provision of complementary documentation, the constitution of adequate structures for receiving and answering the messages sent by the readers, and the effective will of humble and grateful rectification of the environment when it is just and necessary »(p. 309).
This third part, and with it the body of the book, culminates with a few short pages under the heading “Some great Quixotic adventures” whose last words seem to address a mysterious assembly:
“By venturing into Catholic journalism we are venturing not only in defense of personal, family and social freedoms, but also in defense of the dignity and freedom of the children of God that Christ won for us on the cross” ( p. 317).
If the structure of this book is reminiscent of the one already mentioned and incorporates part of the content of Galdón’s other great specialty (journalistic documentation, a discipline in which he is a pioneer in Spain), it is worth indicating that there is a renewal of content, in dialogue with an updated bibliography. It highlights the incorporation of several texts from the last popes that reflect on journalism and the media, as well as the works of some of his disciples, such as Ricardo Latorre (2018).
Throughout these pages many authors appear, with whom the author dialogues, being immensely generous. The variety of its interlocutors is striking: theorists and professionals of journalism; Greek, medieval, modern and contemporary philosophers; writers and poets; and abundant teaching of the Church. Among all these groups of authors, the effort to give voice to not only the most prestigious international voices (especially in the English and French languages), but also to Spanish and Latin American thought is notable.
We are facing a work of maturity, written by a veteran and erudite professor, freed from academic corsets, who no longer has anything to prove but a lot to remember and propose. Galdón wants to speak loud and clear, making his voice sound louder than ever. Perhaps it is true that the title of a book cannot give a complete idea of its content and usefulness, but this time it clearly marks its purpose: Galdón claims the impossibility of separating Ethics from good journalism, to the point that Wanting to be a good journalist is a whole program of wise life (maybe holy!). The subtitle shows the politically incorrect tone with which Galdón tries to shake Journalism from its most consolidated habits for more than a century.
GALDÓN LÓPEZ, Gabriel (2006). Desinformación. Métodos, aspectos y soluciones (4a ed.) Pamplona: Eunsa.
LATORRE, Ricardo (2018). El cobalto de la comunicación (1a ed.) Madrid: Ciudad Nueva.