Humberto Musacchio, historian of cultural journalism turns 80
“Journalism has not only been my life, but also my livelihood. I have been able to eat and live thanks to him. “I am very grateful to have discovered that path,” says the journalist and essayist Humberto Musacchio.
I am not one of those who wanted to be journalists since I was a child. I came across this by chance. I studied economics, but I didn't finish my degree. And I started doing cultural journalism in the supplement of The Nationalwith the Spanish poet Juan Rejano, one of my first teachers,” comments the chronicler in an interview with Excelsior.
Who was born in Ciudad Obregón (Sonora) on October 26, 1943 refuses to be the historian par excellence of Mexican cultural journalism, topic to which he has dedicated several of his books. “I am a simple journalist who does his job,” he highlights in the run-up to his 80th birthday, which he turns next Thursday.
Journalism teaches us to investigate, to collect data, to see what is important. It teaches us to write and give order to what we write. We journalists must take advantage of that to make books. Mine are all research. “I am not a literary creator,” he clarifies.
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Practical, objective, far from the romanticism that surrounds the “best job in the world”, As defined by the Colombian Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez, the collaborator of The newspaper of national life Since 2006, he has been practicing journalism since 1969.
We were a very radical youth. I am a survivor of the student movement of 1968. I was in Tlatelolco on October 2, in the middle of the shooting. We were mixed up, dead, wounded, alive, stupid, everything,” recalls someone who went to prison several times, although for short periods, where he met journalists and intellectuals such as Víctor Rico Galán and Adolfo Gilly.
After the tragedy, he decided bet on culture. “Without culture, society is condemned to spiritual misery, because if there is no appreciation for culture, neither is there appreciation for education. “We are seeing how education has collapsed, the academic level of the Mexican educational system is miserable, and we owe that to this disdain for culture,” he adds.
Who collaborated on the cultural page of The day and in 1971 he directed the cultural section of The universal He narrates that “they left me spoiled there, because I had no idea about the matter. I worked happily, but I made a serious mistake. I can tell you now. I published two articles against Martín Luis Guzmán. They suspended me and I didn't know why, until they explained to me seven key charges that the writer had related to the newspapers,” he says.
The author of History of cultural journalism in Mexico and Mexico: 200 years of cultural journalism He fondly remembers his teachers. “Rejano was a Spanish poet, friend of Federico García Lorca, exiled, communist. He was our idol. It was wonderful to meet a man like him, very generous, he published our crap. He corrected them to make them presentable. And he paid us well.
I have had many very good teachers. Rico Galán was a great political journalist, a very cultured man. He cited the classics, especially the Spanish ones. The poet Renato Leduc also left me a great lesson,” he highlights.
His work has been demonstrated in the newspapers One plus one, The Day, The financialwhere he created the cultural supplement Eat itcradle of his column The republic of letterswhich is now published in Excelsior every Monday, and Reform; as well as in magazines Kiosk, Look and Always!
Cultural journalism has historically had very pronounced ups and downs. We are not going through a good time now. Many supplements and sections have disappeared. But there are still several cultural pages. You have to take care of them. You have to do good cultural journalism. It is crucial for society,” he adds.
Another of Musacchio's loves is Mexico City, to which he has dedicated three books of chronicles: broken city (1985), leaves of time (1993) and Fugitive city (2002). “I arrived in the capital and I almost always had to live in the center, in the ugliest neighborhoods, of course. The center has extraordinary wealth. “I am in love with those squares, with those buildings, with the murals,” he confesses.
To the author of various encyclopedic dictionaries, who saw “die” with the appearance of the Internet and Wikipedia, He is concerned about the disappearance of printed newspapers and the paradigm of the digital age.
I see a future of hunger. What are we journalists going to be? The matter is terrible. We are going towards unemployment. We do not know how digital journalism is doing, where it is going, how much it offers us. It is still a fairly unexplored field. “It is an uncertain future,” he adds.
However, as a fierce fighter, the researcher has several books on the way: one of chronicles already finished on “intellectual life in the cafes of Mexico City since the 18th century”, another on “the strong presence of the Bauhaus in Mexico ”, one more about “important facts of Mexican art that are little appreciated” and a history of the Zócalo.
For now, Musacchio welcomes his 80th birthday with humor. "It's not to celebrate, on the contrary, maybe I'll go to the Gayosso funeral home to reserve my place with a good discount."
- Musacchio is the author of Encyclopedic Dictionary of Mexicowhich appeared in four volumes in 1989.
- The previous title was reissued as Millennia of Mexicobetween 1999 and 2000.
- He is the author of encyclopedic dictionaries of the states of Mexico, Nayarit, Guanajuato and the then Federal District.
- Public Who is who in Mexican politics in 2002, Graphic history of Mexican journalism in 2003 and The University of Mexico, 1551-2001 in 2022.
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