CBS-The view from inside Cuba

CBS producer Portia Siegelbaum on what it’ s like reporting from Cuba.

From cbsnews, a few excerpts, emphasis mine.

The three major American networks, CBS, NBC and ABC, are here under a wink and a nod from island officials. I’m not allowed to hang a sign reading “CBS News” on the door to my office and there’s no desk for a permanent correspondent.

Over coffee, a Cuban Foreign Ministry official blamed the situation on current U.S. policy. “Any decision to formally recognize the networks requires the proper political conditions, which have not existed for the past six years,” he told me. One problem — the U.S. networks have been kept out for more than four decades.

That’s the core dilemma when reporting from this island just 90 miles from the United States. Nearly every story is overshadowed by the long-running feud between the U.S. and Cuba. One side’s facts are immediately decried by the other as propaganda. And every word we use in reporting is loaded with connotations and open to misinterpretation and reinterpretation by both the left and the right. Sometimes neither side likes what we say.

Relatism hard at work, one side’s facts? A journalist’s first obligation is to the truth, and their first loyalty is to the citizens. There is no requirement to present communist propaganda as one sides “facts”.

fidel castro’s health is just about the stickiest story to cover. Only in the last year have Cuban leaders begun to speak openly about a Cuba without the “Comandante.”

If you’re holding a beverage, I recommend putting it down before reading this next one.

Here, they push a line of stability, institutionalization of the revolution, and a peaceful succession—and don’t tell us much more. In Washington, the talk is all about plans to hasten a transition to democracy. It’s hard to get a handle on what’s really going on, especially when reporting for CBS means depending on facts, not rumors.

Facts, not rumors“, I wonder if Dan needs an assistant over at the Discovery Channel.

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