From January 7th to 13th the Gabriel García Márquez Fellowship in Cultural Journalism took place in Cartagena, Colombia, to perform the first of three modules that contains this training program. Nine journalists from three continents worked with teachers Jonathan Levi, Héctor Feliciano, Anne Midgette and Diego Fischerman around questions and challenges they faced on the research for their journalistic material. The testing ground was the International Music Festival of Cartagena, where participants had the opportunity to explore themes, characters and stories.
We present a selection of most outstanding pieces of daily reports and special activities of this fellowship, which led to the second module, dedicated to popular culture. A well done text The definition of a well-made article is as simple as powerful, in the words of Jonathan Levi: "A successful piece is one in which the reader begins and continues till the end". You need to hook, catch and release. As Héctor Feliciano said: "No let air come in because everything could become gassy" Against copy/paste Journalists faced the challenge of radical departure from certain types of notes copied and pasted from the press releases, a common practice in countries such as Italy and Colombia, and that much of younger generation begins to confused with cultural journalism. In this regard, teachers argue that the richness of the descriptions, details, a powerful story and the force of history make the difference. Key questions What is unique about a character? Why is it necessary for someone to go to a concert of some performer? The long careers with their glittering awards lists do not respond to that question by themselves. There must be something more, something exceptional that deserves a journalist devote your time to that character and the audience to his music. Read the full report from the first day: 'fresh ears to catch up' Deep and exceptional The substance versus the accessory It is not easy to choose a central path and rule out other attractive aspects of a topic, but it is necessary to deepen rather than being on the surface pretending to be exhaustive. About this choice, the importance of seeking the exceptional was reiterated as a key to engage the reader. In the words of Jonathan Levi: "It is not surprising expected. The good story is: 'Dog bites man', but 'Man bites dog' ". How to discriminate whether an item have more relevance soprano shoes or all the awards he has accumulated? The answer depends on each individual case and is linked to the journalist's motivation in choosing the topic. Feeling obliged to saturate the texts with ancillary information is not a whim of journalists, is a habit of some kind of press and a demand for some publishers. Read the full report of the second day: 'Minefield between the subjective and the superfluous' Become critical Why would a journalist decides to become a music critic? (...) For the Argentine critic Diego Fischerman its beginnings in the profession refer to the years of childhood and primary motivation is a genuine love and curiosity for music: "When I was little I put my friends what I liked to listen and what I do today as a critic is practically the same, share the music I like". A meeting The critic's place in a society in which everybody have increasing access to information is changing. According Midgette, "The music critic is no longer an authority to become a meeting point for people who love the same thing, its function is to attract people who do not know it and seduce them so they can get to it." Read the report of the Third Session: 'On the side of music "enemies"' The freedom of an angle In which of these aspects (the various aspects of a concert) should we focus our attention?, Which of these issues is "the news"?, Which of these should journalist share with their readers?, What is the story of this presentation? Finding the answer is even more complex when the theme, character or show initiative are not chosen by the author. Anne Midgette placed the issue on the reality of her experience: "If you work as a freelancer you look for the story you want, but if you work for a newspaper you may write about what they pay you for cover." Ear, style and narrative No single story, every commentator writes his own history. The choice is personal and it depends on the liking and individual experience of the critic. The process includes attention and describe with some precision not necessarily technical. These reviews do not have to be different from other forms of writing. Without neglecting personal style is important to consider for whom you write. In Midgette words: "In my case it's ear, style and telling stories that someone else wants to read, not forgetting that we are involving our tastes, assuming that it is very difficult to distinguish the facts from feelings." Read the report of the Fourth Day: 'Overcome silence before the sound'