Debates


Historia y periodismo

 
If we are talking about professional practice, then I believe the difference between historian and journalist is one of role definition.
 
If on the other hand we are talking about the historian as a type of person or a member of a tradition of "time and record artisans" then one could use a craft metaphor: e.g. to dress a person properly one could go to a department store (El Cortes, for example) and decide as a male or female to buy clothes. One can choose between the new collection, the standard collection and the discounted goods, buy a suit, shirt/ blouse, underwear, socks and shoes. This is the way people consume journalism. The department store delivers goods for so-called immediate needs with the appearance of completeness. But in fact they are incomplete and seasonal. The same applies whether one supposes to have bought modern, classical, or "discount" fashion.

The journalist role is often (if not exclusively) one of describing and presenting the range of current fashions. It does not preclude the historian role but the two roles are not simultaneous.
The history begins when one asks the questions "who am I?" before simply demanding clothes. Since this question can never be finally answered, it is an extensive project comparable to going to a tailor, a bootmaker, a hosier, a chemissier: each has its particular craft which joins the knowledge of the materials with which it works and the function and purpose for which its results are intended. Thus history includes analysts, chronists, archivists, biographers, curators, collectors, each of whom have their special method of approaching the question "what is man?"
 
There is no immediate answer to this question that is also final. The question cannot be given a "ready-made" answer. Nonetheless it is not only reasonable but important to have fittings while a suit or shoe is being made.
 
In my view a journalist of quality has the respect and knowledge of the crafts used to answer the question "what is man?", to provide humans with clothes that fit who they are without excluding who they were or what they will become. This is what allows the journalist to produce snapshots or fittings in history. These fittings have to be part of the conversation between citizen and society and among citizens themselves. Through a responsible journalism the citizen can learn to maintain dialogue with the present. With history emerging as this dialogue acquires temporal and spatial extension.
 
Mit freundlichen Grüßen/ Sincerely/ Cordialement/ Atenciosemente/ Cordiali saluti
  
Dr. Patrick Wilkinson
Institute for Advanced Cultural Studies Europe
Kirchstrasse 32
D-40227 Düsseldorf
+49 211 495 3010
+49 171 645 9153
 
 

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