The news agency Europa Press (EP) Castilla-La Mancha has just turned 25 and was born when its current delegate, Humberto del Horno (Cuenca, 1985), was only eleven years old. Throughout this quarter of a century it has reported many good and bad things for the region. Now, in the midst of a pandemic and at a time of great changes, such as those currently experienced even in the way of reporting, something that for Del Horno is more of a challenge than a problem.
The Europa Press Castilla-La Mancha news agency has just turned 25 and was born when its current delegate was only eleven years old. What was Humberto del Horno at that time and what led him to later opt for journalism?
At that age I was already a journalist thanks to a teacher I had at the Fuente del Oro school in Cuenca, Carlos Ramón Perera, who liked journalism a lot and was even in charge of a newspaper that we did, and organized extracurricular activities for us to learn . I remember that he once gave me a microphone when he was eight years old to narrate a football match between teachers and students, and he recorded it on video because he is very fond of audiovisual communication. This first stimulus, which led me to read all the press from a very young age, and a phrase that my father repeated to me over and over again – “you have to be curious” – made me choose this profession, which now has led me to be a delegate of Europa Press in Castilla-La Mancha.
In this quarter of a century, the agency has consolidated and is experiencing its best moment. Isn’t it a bit of a paradox that, at a time when many people are having a bad time, you are doing so well?
It is true that, for some time now, the agency has adapted well to different challenges. Although we are 25 years old, at the national level it is almost 70 years old, since Europa Press was created in 1953. If there is a medium that has been modernized, it is ours because we launched a model of regional delegations 30 years ago, with the Andalusian pilot project. This change put aside the old teletypes with a bell in the newsroom with which the newspapers were stopped and we have adapted to new technologies and new communication formats, through social networks, our own audiovisual production and in the future even with “podcast” in order to give as much information as possible to the media. And above all, we have been able to combine quality information with speed, thanks to technique. When I came to the newsroom ten years ago, we barely had two laptops, and now we report almost in real time by providing text, audio, photography and even video. That is, total journalism.
What is the reason for this bonanza?
I am a delegate, not a director. Writing is not understood without the work of my entire team. In Toledo, everyone knows the great journalists who make up Europa Press -Pilar Alarcón, Laura Gómez, María Izquierdo, Roberto Martos, Irene Fernández and Álvaro Pinilla-, as well as the correspondents we have in La Mancha, Talavera, Puertollano and all over the world. the provincial capitals, as well as photographic and video camera collaborators. In total, a staff of about 30 people. I have had a period of eight years, since 2013 at the head of the delegation, of the ten that he led here. I am the longest serving delegate, after my predecessors in office -Luisa Acedo, Juan Pedro Medina, Alicia Avilés and José María Villanueva-, and I take the reins in a complicated period, with a change of government in Castilla-La Mancha and a difficult situation in the company. But I don’t regret my decision. From the first moment, we all began to row in the same direction to make the delegation what it is today.
Life at EP has changed a lot from the beginnings in the business incubator with three workers to the editorial office on Calle Comercio with seven professionals working at full capacity. What do you ask of the future?
I ask that they let us work as they have done so far. Fortunately, because it has not always been this way, no source of information or any public authority tells us what to do, which is not easy. This has been achieved by doing a good job. We are a private and independent agency, and that in the end we wear it with pride. Now we are at a point where we can dedicate ourselves to doing journalism and nothing else, without thinking about whether we annoy or like someone. This, furthermore, is not easy at a time when misinformation and “fake news” are gaining more and more ground and, even so, I believe that the worse information there is, the more good information will stand out, which is what we do every day.
Are you afraid that social media will gain ground and credibility to agency journalism?
In a scenario in which disinformation or information sponsored by opinion leaders of dubious credibility, something that has even led Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States, the media must be aware that this is not our war or our enemy to beat. We have to follow our path, which is to continue to inform well and shape a quality brand, which is what characterizes most of the media. The war against the “fake news” virus is won with good information and by contrasting the interested messages that come to us from both sides.
Even so, many times the work of news agencies is not as recognized as that of other media. Do they feel undervalued or even “journalism blacks”?
In the end, as an agency journalist, satisfaction is not that a neighbor from any point of Castilla-La Mancha, consumer of information, recognizes the good work of Europa Press. We don’t need that. Our main customer is the media and subscribers to our news service. In addition, our style book is aimed at giving them informative material so that they can work. In short, we give them a piece of clay that is as aseptic as possible, that is well shaped and resistant, so that each medium can then give it the shape it wants or decorate it as it wants, with flowers or colors.
You, who have been a delegate of EP Castilla-La Mancha since 2013, have seen governments, politicians and public figures parade in these years. Which of them has let you down the most and which one has captivated you the most during this time?
If we talk about politicians, which is 80% of the information we do, I have not been disappointed by any of them. Not for nothing, but because in the end the one from whom you can expect something disappoints you. I have gotten along wonderfully with almost everyone I have met, although not so much with others. In the end, politicians and journalists do not play the same game, even if we sit down to eat together one day. They sell their book and we, as journalists, have to make sure they don’t sell it to us. For this reason, no one has disappointed me, although I may have had a specific confrontation with someone due to different opinions at the time of headline or report, with open discussions in the corridors of the Cortes, but we cannot pretend that our work everyone likes it. In any case, due to his human qualities, I have a lot of affection for Vicente Tirado, a person who, beyond his current and past political role, when he was president of the Cortes of Castilla-La Mancha, had an exemplary deal with all of us and conveyed joy and interest in our life and our work. I also highlight the figure of Emiliano García-Page, whom I have known in all his facets, since he was mayor of Toledo until he became President of the Community Board. He has always treated me the same, being a regular editor or delegate of Europa Press. Even so, there are many more. since he was mayor of Toledo until he became President of the Community Board. He has always treated me the same, being a regular editor or delegate of Europa Press. Even so, there are many more. since he was mayor of Toledo until he became President of the Community Board. He has always treated me the same, being a regular editor or delegate of Europa Press. Even so, there are many more.
Along these lines, which piece of news are you most proud to have given and which one is the most regretful?
I have already said it many times, but the worst news I have given has been the death of the one who was the Minister of Public Works, Elena de la Cruz, because we follow him live. Since Thursday in which he began to have problems in the plenary session of the Courts and entered the hospital, from where they told me that he was not going to leave again. I had a good relationship with her and I remember perfectly the moment when I was notified of her death, and it was very hard having to give that ticker. On the other hand, good news was the unanimous approval of the Castilla-La Mancha Law against Sexual Violence, since, accustomed to noise and confrontations in parliamentary sessions, reporting something like this is very comforting.
And finally, what ticker would you like to give in the short-medium-long term?
In the current context, reporting the end of the pandemic is still complicated, but it is already appealing to give the headline “0 infections in Castilla-La Mancha”, which would appear in red like all the most urgent news that we give in Europa Press. We have already been able to give a teletype in summer without any deceased by coronavirus, something that satisfies after so much tragedy. Even so, I am afraid that we still have a long way to go, but we will conform to all the previous steps, informing that we accumulate weeks without deaths in nursing homes, that the population continues to be vaccinated and immunized. Then there will be more things to worry about and report on, but journalists have been counting dead civilians for a long time.