South Press Interviews: The Outstanding Press Career of José Arenal

By Angel Christopher /staff South Press Independent Newspaper

Continuing with the series of interviews with political, artistic, and intellectual personalities of the Cuban historical exile and other exiled sister communities in the United States, this time we present the interview conducted by the journalist Juan Garau with the founding editor of the newspaper “YA!”, the journalist of the print media and television José Arenal.

Arenal made a brief but substantial journey through his beginnings in Cuban journalism, starting with his studies at the Manuel Márquez Sterling School of Journalism, and his subsequent outstanding journalistic career in newspapers, magazines, and later on television, with the arrival of the Color TV to Cuba.

The first school of Journalism: the professionalization of a trade

The “Manuel Márquez Sterling” Professional School of Journalism had a short life, only 18 years, curtailed by the coming to power of the Cuban revolution, which from its beginnings proved to be the enemy of the free press and freedom of expression.

But during that brief period, it was not only a study center for «making» journalists, but it also became the regulating power of the profession of all and those who had dedicated themselves to it. His most arduous task was, without a doubt, that of regulating the practice of journalism.

On the night of October 4, 1943, in the Assembly Hall of the institution, the Professional School of Journalism “Manuel Márquez Sterling” was inaugurated under a lavish gala in view of its students, teachers, and other guests.

«The School of Journalism of Havana, installed in a beautiful mansion in the Vedado neighborhood. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, in front of a beautiful park, and with patios where leafy tropical trees abound, the School is a really friendly and welcoming place». This is how the American magazine Intertipo described it, during a visit to the institution in December 1944.

There were three ways to enter. High school graduates and graduates of other careers did so without exams, but they had to present two letters of recommendation from recognized figures within the world of journalism and/or intellectuality, while graduates of higher primary education had to take a sufficiency exam.

The “Manuel Márquez Sterling” Professional School of Journalism during its brief existence was not only a study center to train journalists, but also became the regulating power of the profession of all and those who had dedicated themselves to it.

His most arduous task was, without a doubt, that of regulating the practice of journalism. Despite the indisputable mistakes made by the school management, Márquez Sterling was a forge of study and work that, while offering culture, generated in its students a vocation and love for the profession.

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