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Unknowns That Annoy Those Who Read Us

The information of EL PAÍS must include all the necessary data so that the reader understands the environment of the events that are narrated even if they do not know the subject in question.

Texts should be self-explanatory and should be written in such a way that the reader does not need to recall the background to understand what is before his eyes. These are elementary rules of the Style Book that, however, are often broken due to confusion and complaints from readers.

Almost daily texts are published without data and key references to understand them. As a result, these pieces lose much of their informational value or make no sense at all. The problem is exacerbated when, as is the case, the readers are from different countries and cultures or they look at the newspaper for the first time.

CAP and the food chain: the greatest challenges of Agriculture for 2021 , was a headline of last day 4. The text did not explain that the CAP is the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU. Who did not know did not go beyond the first paragraph.

On the 20th we published that Ford raised another ERTE in its Valencia factory with 600 affected workers. 600 of how many employees in total? How many were affected by the previous ERTE? Without these data, it is impossible to calibrate the news.

The electricity will go up in January between four and ten euros , said another headline the same day. That, it was said, was the expected increase in “the electricity bill.” With respect to what amount? It was not clear.

Days before, we said that “the new Abengoa director is Marcos de Quinto’s sister-in-law”. He was quoted four times in the print edition piece without identifying him as a former Citizen or former Coca-Cola executive.

We have committed the same error in information in which characters such as María Dolores de Cospedal, Luis Bárcenas or Esperanza Aguirre appeared, without specifying what prominent positions they held in the PP. By not doing so, the interest of the news for those who are unaware of these extremes is zero. Other times the Nóos, Gürtel or Kitchen cases are cited without explanation , although there will always be readers who do not know them.

Headline of day 16: The Constitutional is fractured in sentences on freedoms. The magistrates interpret the rights of expression, worship or equality differently .

Well, the text includes the arguments of the dissenting votes, but not those of the verdicts, so the reader Carlos Silva López wrote to me: “It seemed like a good article, but it should have been faithful to its own subtitle and point out how the other wing of the Constitutional Court justifies its sentences differently. We are left orphaned of information and contrast ”.

Another reader had previously complained about the information titled The Supreme Court rejects all the complaints against the governments for the management of the pandemic . We did not specify how many lawsuits have been filed – “10, 50, 100, 500 …?” – or who has done it.

We also violate our standards in many news about the prisoners of the procés. We rarely remember what their convictions were. It has happened in the last month a half dozen times.

Headline of day 6: Sito Miñanco faces his fourth prison sentence for drug trafficking . The text details what the current case against that known drug trafficker consists of, but it is logical that the reader wonders what the previous three consisted of and what their convictions were. You will not find the answer.

You will not find it either if you ask about the convictions in this news item of the 8th: “Seven policemen sentenced for the death of a young man in southern Chile.” In this case, there was an aggravating circumstance: the published text was from the Efe agency and a sentence was deleted from it stating that the duration of the sentences would be issued on the 28th of this month.

Oblivious to this amputation, the reader Vicente Martín snapped at me: “In said news an essential piece of information is omitted: What was the sentence imposed on the condemned?”

Another reader, Juan Carlos Martín Castillejos, complains that we do not inform him “precisely” about the causes in which Francisco Nicolás Gómez Iglesias, Little Nicolás, is involved, and because, when we refer to them (January 2), we hide that he was acquitted in his first trial in 2018.

Félix Pérez-Fajardo regrets that in an attractive report on Pyrenean glaciers we included a graph on “cubic tons” of ice without explaining this strange concept. “It is the first time in my life that I have seen someone talk about cubic tons. What’s that?”

Each question that remains unanswered amounts to an anger on the part of the person who reads us. We cannot afford it. Less than ever.

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