What’s New with the News

By Carmen Rioja

The start of 2022 demonstrated a push into the future that I have rarely seen in my short but crazy life. It can no longer be denied that the world changed and will not return to what it was before the pandemic. With the arrival of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, our dreams of turning the page end. 

The first news story you should know is that the entire information system has been transformed. Today, the most popular and commercial media are governed by algorithms; the algorithms automatically select the specific items and content that audiences choose the most, such that less attractive content gradually disappears from the system, becoming a ghost in the network that nobody reads. Oftentimes, such pieces are substantive opinions, great works, or brilliant reviews, but they come in boring packaging. To exit the system, you have to navigate it more proactively. This means writing and asking questions, following topics, reading the aforementioned books, and feeding back to the algorithm things outside the 10 automatic notes from Google or Yahoo. If we only scan the screen with one finger and do not interact, the algorithm stays with the news that has the most clicks. Although it is good to know those news items, it is always necessary to investigate and check the source.

The second news is that sources are very clear, abundant, impartial, and diverse. On the internet, you can find reliable information and hard data easily. In libraries, you can do the same. The secret is always to check for a reliable source, whether it is a university, a government page, or a world organization like WHO. Even though the night is dark and the internet is confusing, the source is always clear:

Its clarity is never obscured

and I know that all of her light is coming,

although it is night.

I know how mighty its currents are

what hell heavens water and the people,

although it is night.

The stream that is born from this source

I know well that he is so capable and so powerful,

although it is night.

—Saint John of the Cross, circa 1577

The third piece of news is that censorship as such no longer exists. There are consequences for giving false information or using someone else’s property for personal gain. There are editorial standards, and they can be diverse. But freedom of expression has never been better. The government media were forced to provide support to their narratives; their historical truth was no longer enough. The truth is no longer held by any individual. There is only a cluster of sources that add up and build in this living dialogue a truer sense of perception.

At the local level, in the newspaper Atención, everything is new. After the pandemic crisis and closed to the public for more than a year—and after the worldwide collapse of printed matter—a financial and logistical rescue was achieved with strict adherence to the Editorial Board, thanks to the generosity of President Travis Bembenek. Bembenek decided to invest and absorb the burden of the staff for more than six months and thereafter the salaries and operating expenses, in addition to the capital necessary to transform Atención into a digital medium according to current local, rural, as well as global needs. We will have a new presentation of the highest quality print along with digital content, sure that readers will enjoy more.

The San Miguel de Allende Public Library also renewed members of the Board of Directors, after a great tribute to those who had to retire to fulfill work or personal commitments. But, once a librarian, forever a librarian! And this goes to dear Ali Zerrifi and Gregory Diamant.

With great affection in the atmosphere with music and a banquet, a traditional posada paid tribute to the entire Library team for their exceptional work in 2021.

A recognition also to comrade Jesús Aguado who is leaving the newspaper for a better opportunity in SAPASMA, the local water institution about which he has written several articles in this newspaper.

The journalism of the future requires us not only to professionalize ourselves but to humanize ourselves; we are the mediators of the algorithm. If the discussion falls into the mud, it is also the duty of readers to raise the bar. Check the source; there are ghosts roaming the libraries that can always help and experts from around the world within reach of a question and a click.

Cover Photo by The Herald Report

Carmen Rioja is a Mexican artist and restorer who specialized in antiques, mural paintings, and writing workshops. She is well known for her works at Cañada de la Virgen Pyramids and the Sanctuary of Atotonilco. Rioja is the author of the emblematic books “La Muerte Niña” and “Rojo 43.