Journalists versus Sean Penn


The polemic picture published by Rolling Stone, courtesy of Sean Penn.

When The New York Times published that the Rolling Stone magazine was going to publish an interview done by Sean Penn to Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the newspapers in Mexico and the United States published, wait, they copied the exclusive note.

In that moment they had a note.

Then, when the Rolling Stone magazine published the interview, journalists in both countries started an interesting discussion: Was it really an interview? Is Sean Penn a journalist? Was the publication just a show?

Until now, the journalists are expressing arguments that sound like a professional jealousy; everything was a show; it wasn’t an interview; and Penn is not a journalist; besides, Rolling Stone did a very bad edition of the interview.

Let’s see.

  1. Sean Penn and Kate del Castillo (who was not even mentioned in those discussions) are not journalists. OK.
  2. The interview wasn’t an interview, because “El Chapo” approved the text published by the magazine. WRONG. It was an interview (journalism genre). The magazine was wrong to accept that condition.
  3. Rolling Stone did a very bad edition. Ok, I can accept that.
  4. Everything was a show. OF COURSE. The show is going on, thanks to this discussion.

We have to accept the following facts:

  1. Sean Penn and Kate del Castillo had an exclusive interview. The Rolling Stone magazine published this exclusive interview.
  2. The New York Times published the exclusive note of that exclusive interview.
  3. The rest are just making the show bigger. So, Penn and the Rolling Stone magazine can be happy.
  4. The rest are worried about whether we should call it an interview or not, and if that would create confusion about the “true” meaning of journalism! Really?

More facts:

  1. Some media have exclusive interviews, others don’t.
  2. Some media hire very bad journalists and people that never studied journalism but they work as journalists.
  3. Some media have bad editors. That happens!

In addition, the Mexican General Attorney is going to investigate Penn and Castillo. Here is something interesting, for two reasons:

  1. If Castillo was producing a movie for “El Chapo” with money of the drug leader, there is something to investigate, because that could be money laundry.
  2. If the Mexican General Attorney is trying to investigate how and why “El Chapo” gave to Penn and Castillo the permission for that interview, then there could be something against the free press.

I have to confess that the item is interesting, but the media that decided to continue this discussion have to consider academic theories and arguments, not just arguments that are based on professional jealousy.


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