«We have to rest everything a little, we are in a very feverish stage»

Marisa Rodríguez Palop (Llerena, 1966) is one of those people who, as they say, “has a world.” Paris, Rome and Lisbon. The death of Pope John Paul II, the proclamation of Benedict XVI, UN summits, the eruption of the Mayon volcano in the Philippines, the L’Aquila earthquake, the jihadist attacks in Paris, the Notre Dame fire. Marisa has been to all these places and events. After more than 30 years linked to RTVE, which has seen her learn and grow as a professional until today, in which, after many trips and eleven years outside Spain as a correspondent, she has presented the longest-running program since last year. of European television, Weekly Report.

Rodríguez Palop grew up in Llerena, in a house with three other sisters: María Eugenia, MEP and university professor; María Isabel, also a journalist; and Carmen, artist and teacher. At the age of 17, he had to leave his town to pursue his dream of being a journalist. He began studying the first two years of his degree in Seville, when there was no Faculty of Communication yet, through the ‘Spanish Center for New Professions’. In the third year, he moved to Madrid to finish his studies at the Complutense University. The capital of Spain, after many years, became his second home again after returning from Paris in 2019, when he finished his time as a correspondent in the French city. Now, as she walks towards Torrespaña, commonly known as ‘El Pirulí’, the place from where Informe Semanal is manufactured and broadcast throughout Spain, Marisa Rodríguez Palop reviews her entire life in front of the camera and the facts, both good and bad. of the bad ones.

At what moment did you decide that you want to be a journalist?

Since I was very little. I was ten or eleven years old when I told my mother that she wanted to be a journalist. I remember we were in a bar and, talking with my sisters about what we wanted to be, I told my mother: ‘Mom, I want to be a journalist.’ She, the only reference she had at the time (70s) was Carmen Sarmiento, the conflict journalists, the war in Lebanon… she panicked (laughs). She replied that no, that was outrageous, that if I like to write she would have to be a Literature teacher. I told him that I liked writing, but also telling stories and I was very curious to see things, see the world, meet people and be the one to see what was happening through my eyes. I was very seduced by the idea, even though there were no journalists in my family nor did we know any journalists. My mother thought she was going to get over it, but she didn’t get over it.

How did your path in journalism begin?

It was a world much more dominated by men, but there was also a kind of elite where if you didn’t have contacts you didn’t know how to enter. Mine was a bit by chance. While one day in a cafeteria, I met María Escario, who was already a Spanish Television presenter at the time. I really liked her and I went up to say hello. She was then the one who informed me in that conversation that there were some scholarships that the university gave to do internships at Spanish Television after the fifth year, when you had finished your degree, during the summer. I had no idea, but I took note and applied for that scholarship. I always liked to get ahead of myself and I did many interviews on my own before that I sold to magazines. Interviews with Lina Morgan, Emilio Aragón, Luz Casal… She would locate people I liked, do an interview with them and then sell them. I did this on my own and at my own expense, but I didn’t care because it was a way to practice and get into the world, and it also fascinated me. With those interviews and the grade from the university, I entered the scholarship, which I did in the Economics section of the news. When the scholarship ends, you stay in the data bank, but you leave. I returned to Llerena, where I started working with my father in his workshop, until two months later, reading HOY, I saw that they had just inaugurated the RTVE Territorial Center in Extremadura. My father told me: ‘why don’t you stop by and see if you’re interested?’ I did not know what to do. He encouraged me and told me that ‘the workshop was always going to be there’. When I went to the Center, they welcomed me with open arms, because they were looking for people who were in the data bank. I met the requirements and they hired me. In addition, I brought a colleague, because they needed more people, and I notified Carmen Romero (current presenter of Audiencia Abierta on TVE). That’s where we start.

-He has been a correspondent for TVE in Rome, Paris and Lisbon for eleven years. How complicated was this job, with his home so far away?

It’s hard. When you go as a correspondent, you don’t know how long you’ll be there for. At first, what you think is that it is a great opportunity, since you work in other conditions, perfect a language, test yourself, overcome a lot of difficulties, you have to touch all areas… You are always growing and trying to improve. With that aspiration and with that drive, you go. You always think that you are going to come back once a month, but then it turns out that you come in summer and Christmas only, because life in a correspondent does not allow you anything else, you are one hundred percent dedicated. In fact, if you plan something for the weekend, you most likely have to cancel it because there is something that is above leisure, which is your obligation. When you look back, you realize that it has been a long period that you have been without your people and that you have missed many things. Many times I have been more aware of when my parents have been missing when I have experienced it, not when I was experiencing it. When I was going through it, I was so focused on working and time passed so quickly… I called them constantly and had regular contact, just like now, but when I look back and think that I have been away from Spain for eleven years… Eleven years is many.

-You have covered many situations, from attacks to the proclamation of a new Pope. What is the news that has marked or impacted you the most throughout his career?

The news that has marked me the most was the Paris attacks, without a doubt. What happened to Charlie Hebdo, which seemed like an isolated thing to us, and then, in November of the same year (2015), the Bataclan Hall attacks, which were terrible. You feel like you live in a city in conflict, where violence is there. You have soldiers at the door of the school where your children go, you cross the zebra crossing with distrust, you stop taking the subway… Every day was a shock. That was the worst cycle, not just for me, but because I was a mother of young children.

-What do you think, however, are the most positive news that you have had to cover?

I have really enjoyed covering science news, seeing how people who, in a very modest way, continue working to improve the lives of others. Scientists are barely given space in the media and they are people to whom we owe a lot. They charge little, they spend years testing their research, and when they make a small breakthrough, the rest of us benefit from it. However, during all those years of work, they are in the dark. I also really liked the reopening of the Bataclan Hall, when Sting went to perform there. Everyone in that place, with flowers on the ground, in a moment of prayer and reflection. Then a repertoire was chosen that was so emotional, so beautiful, with relatives of the victims there in the audience. It was impressive, it was a success how Sting understood that this party room had to be opened in an emotional and special way. Furthermore, the most hilarious news I had to give was the laughter from the Parliament of Andalusia, a surreal moment. In 1994, they began to pass the voting lists and all the parliamentarians had a fit of laughter. They couldn’t even continue, they even had to interrupt the session. What a time when politicians laughed! No matter what game they were in, they would pass the handkerchief to dry their eyes. It was a magical thing, a very Berlanguian moment. I experienced this alone, it was twelve at night and only the TVE camera was there. Beyond laughter, it has that meaning of that time when politicians could look at each other and share something over their differences.

-How do you think having traveled so much and having lived so long outside of Spain has influenced you as a person?

What has changed me the most is that small things affect me much less. When you are here all the time, it seems to you that this is the only reference, the most important thing. People lock themselves in a microscopic bubble and defend it to the death, as if that were the axis of the world. When you are abroad, you realize that there are countries that have other problems because they are older democracies than ours and have gone through much more complicated situations. The two World Wars, for example, have greatly marked the dynamics, life and collective memory of the countries where I have lived. There have been massive migratory flows there for decades and coexistence between different cultures must be adjusted. We are still a young democracy, which has to take the great leap of going to what is important and overlooking what is small.

-Since last year it has presented the legendary Weekly Report. How did this opportunity arise and why did you decide to accept?

It emerged in June of last year. The previous presenter, who was Rosa María Molló, a fantastic presenter and colleague, was leaving the program and the management thought that they wanted a person with that profile, who had been a correspondent, who had done reports. They wanted a reporter, they didn’t want a typical presenter. I am not a presenter per se. I don’t have that profile or that composure. I am a reporter who presents reports. They thought of me and I was delighted to accept, because for me it is an honor to present the longest-running program on European television. It has been on the air for 48 uninterrupted years and we are making a screen quota that for the average household is very good. There is a loyal audience that expects to see those calm, well-crafted reports with all points of view. Our audience is curious, demanding and learns, just like me, who also learns when I watch the reports. Some will be liked more than others, but the intention is always to get away from the frenetic dynamics of the news and give an angle a little above the detail of the last hour that has been given in the previous news. We try to combine one or two current topics with another more timeless one. That is part of the DNA of the program, which allows you to watch the week’s news more calmly and listen to people speak calmly, to make silence, to express themselves, to get the feeling that they are talking to you. It is a great satisfaction for me to present it. However long it lasts, it is a very nice opportunity that also reconciles me with my past as a correspondent.

-How do you assess the situation of RTVE currently, after the changes that have been carried out in recent months?

Now there is a new management trying to improve the situation. We are in a ratings crisis and we all want to make a comeback. You can do things better and you can sell the good things you do better. At the moment some changes have been made, not very radical, and we will see what effect they have. Without betraying our values ​​and our principles as a public service, we want to improve and achieve quotas like those we have had in the past. Let’s see if these changes work, let’s hope so.

-And how do you see the future of journalism, in general, in our country?

We have to rest everything a little. We are in a very feverish stage. The emergence of social networks is undeniable. Some things about them are positive and others not so much. We must insist a lot on distinguishing the sources of information and constantly verify because there are massive poisonings on the networks and many smoke sellers. We journalists may like it more or less, be inclined here or there, or nowhere, but we have had a career where we have been taught some values ​​and we have an ethical code. And, above all, we have someone to answer to if we do something outrageous. If we make mistakes, it has consequences. If a YouTuber or a spontaneous social media user makes a mistake, he doesn’t have them. And, therefore, he doesn’t care. We do not earn more or less money telling the news. That’s why people should realize that it doesn’t matter whether they read news from one source or another. That is the main battle we have ahead of us.

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