Caribbean Media Dreams - What kind of journalism Cubans in Havana want (ESN/INC)


This study on Cuba's journalism from the perspective of Cubans is the starting signal for an internationalization of the German research project 'Media Future Lab'. The Media Future Labs are a response to the crisis of confidence in the (Western) media. In them, 'ordinary citizens' construct an ideal media system according to the method Zukunftswerkstatt. The method follows the sequence of events: criticism, utopia and concrete measures - and is transferred to a communist media system on a different continent for the first time in this study.

The fact that Cuba has a political system with limited freedom of the press makes it more difficult to conduct a Media Future Lab than in Germany. Due to this restriction, there is virtually no public university research on the attitudes of Cubans towards the political system in general and the media in particular. But the more difficult conditions make the results of this Cuban Media Future Lab with 9 participants in Havana in January 2020 all the more interesting.

In order not to fear repression, Cubans in their country hide their political opinions and are reluctant to give interviews. In the German Media Future Labs, 8 to 25 participants work together in one room. To maintain confidentiality, the Cuban participants discussed separately in four individual groups. The selection was based on the two criteria 'basic political attitude' and 'social status', resulting in the following groups: 'functionaries' vs. 'opposition' and 'street people' vs. “physicians”. Since all participants come from the center of Havana, it can be assumed that they are fundamentally more critical of the political system than Cubans living in the countryside. All participants are around 50 years old and thus belong to the 'periodo especial' generation.

In the criticism phase, it becomes apparent that all respondents - including the 'functionaries' - criticize that Cuban journalism is state-controlled. This includes points of criticism such as one-sidedness, journalists as mouthpieces, half truths or repetition. But also the foreign media of exiled Cubans from Miami or US-American news channels were strongly criticized - up to: 'The same with more money'. The Internet, on the other hand, is praised by all respondents because it has broken the state news monopoly, brought new truths to the island and opened Cuba up to the rest of the world.

In the second phase, the utopias of journalism, the findings were divided into five blocks: professionalism, material equipment, expansion of content, social journalism and musical journalism. The question of how the utopias can be turned into reality leads the participants in the third phase to the very big question: does their dream of journalism need radical system change? Or the lifting of the economic blockade by the USA? The participants will also provide numerous ideas on how journalism can be improved within the reform course under President Díaz-Carnel and thus achieve more trust among the Cuban population.

In the end, the results are compared with those from the German Media Future Labs.