ARA is now in its second decade. And it goes without saying that, judging by the state of the country and the world, it promises to be as turbulent and intense as the first. With its desire to continue giving readers a journalism that lives up to the times intact, the newspaper is officially celebrating its tenth anniversary. On this occasion - pandémie oblige - the party that used to be held at the Palau de la Música has been turned into a video shared with readers to pay tribute to the community that makes the newspaper possible and, furthermore, to announce a new edition of the Ignasi Pujol and Tatiana Sisquella prize winners.
Antoni Bassas acted as master of ceremonies for this anniversary video. "Ten years later, we believe that we have earned the right to say that ARA is a benchmark for information, opinion and innovation in our country," he explains as he gives way to the newspaper's director, Esther Vera, who is calling for the "free, committed, useful and rigorous" journalism that has been made in these times of coronavirus. "It is a year of struggle, also in ARA. We have come through and we have achieved it thanks to the commitment of our subscribers and readers, in the only way that the board of directors understands that we can do good journalism: by being free and with the involvement of all of us who work at the ARA".
This effort has translated into figures that demonstrate the consolidation of the journalistic project, with 40,000 subscribers, 13 million page views per month, 2.5 million unique users and a paper demand of 45,000 copies. Despite its paywall, the newspaper is a success on social networks with more than 523,000 followers on Twitter and 290,000 on Facebook.
Health dominates awards
The health situation has also marked this seventh edition of the ARA awards, which readers and subscribers have decided by popular vote. The Ignasi Pujol award for the promotion of entrepreneurship went to the medical device company Anaconda, which has developed a revolutionary system for treating stroke, consisting of a small tube that is inserted into the carotid artery and when it hits a clot it widens and absorbs it completely. As for the Tatiana Sisquella award for social contribution, it corresponded to the humanisation plan of Hospital del Mar's ICU in Barcelona. It is an initiative that seeks the physical and emotional well-being of those in long-term intensive care, so that they can be as close as possible to their families. In short, it focuses on the patient rather than the disease.
In the video you can also enjoy a preview of this Sunday's paper, in which ten witnesses explain how they and their world have changed in these ten years. These are personalities who have had a prominent presence in the ARA and have wanted to look both back and forward. Starting with Graciela Noguera, the first girl born in 2010 and who accompanied Dr. Moisès Broggi on the first cover of the newspaper. Now she is a pre-adolescent who already projects her future: she imagines herself as an adult, living alone but surrounded by friends who, like herself, work in the police dog unit.
An emotional meeting, which can be seen in the virtual act, is that of Ada Colau, Carme Forcadell and Leonardo Anselmi. In 2012, they were the protagonists of a report on activism, before Colau became mayor and Forcadell speaker in Parliament. In this reunion, they explain the consequences of their move into politics, especially painful in the case of Forcadell because of her imprisonment. Another piece features Bonaventura Clotet, who predicted the appearance of a vaccine against AIDS. He explains that he is now focused on research against covid, which is "the disease that has been studied the most in the shortest time" and says that he imagines himself still active ten years from now, when he is 77. "People in the United States are leading research until they are 80 and beyond". He shares the desire that the pandemic will serve "as a sufficient lesson at the political level to make it clear that much more money must be given to animal health research, apart from human health.
ARA readers and subscribers also have their place, in this virtual event. Like Antoni Cuadrench, who recommends commenting on the news "to all older people" since "it is really good for structuring thought and transmitting ideas in few words". Newsagent Natàlia Ayala highlights the youthfulness of the newspaper: "It has connected with many young people, which we are grateful for, since many new generation readers have been lost, although ARA also has the support of people in other age groups".
Ferran Rodés, president of ARA's publishing company, congratulated the newspaper "on dedicating every day to searching for the facts, discovering, investigating and to explain what is happening in the country and in the world. And for doing so freely, without prejudice: with innocence and at the same time firmness, responsibility and respect. Also for believing in the country and its people. And for an open and integrating outlook, fleeing from provincialism about what Catalonia needs to be and the place it needs to occupy in the world". The editor also stresses that ARA has become a "pioneering newspaper in the world by allying itself with readers" and emphasises that it is a "newspaper open to artists, women, children, migrants and the most vulnerable".
In the turn of institutional interventions, the president of the Diputació de Barcelona, Núria Marín affirms that the presence of ARA demonstrates "that good journalism, plural and rigorous, still has a place in the society of the 21st century". And she thanks, on behalf of the institution, "the public service task that also implies maintaining the journalistic professionalism that ARA has represented since day one. Teresa Cunillera, delegate of the central government, agrees that "in times of a pandemic that has changed everything, it is important to have a media committed to explaining reality and people's problems.
The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, applauds the "rigorous, independent, empathetic and innovative journalism in very complicated times" and has some words of remembrance for the founding director, Carles Capdevila, of whom she remembers "his enormous smile full of intelligence and full of tenderness". Parliament speaker Roger Torrent urged ARA to maintain a "critical spirit that will make us advance and build a better society than the one we have inherited", while Pere Aragonès, vice-president of the Catalan government and acting president, highlights the "quality journalism committed to the values of Catalan society and to the service of truth". And he closes his speech with a wish: "To continue explaining the Catalonia that we have, but also the Catalonia that we want to have".
To bid farewell to the virtual event, Esther Vera has announced imminent changes in digital channels. "We will continue to do the journalism you are accustomed to, but we will update the way we bring it to you", the journalist explained. "We will be, once again, the innovative newspaper par excellence. And now we will send you our proposals in the most direct, clear and audacious way, with a proposal for new digital channels that we will begin in 2021, the year to recover momentum as a society, to vaccinate ourselves, to reconstruct as a country and to recover the joy. To stay up to date with the changes that are on their way, readers can sign up here.
The sponsors of this virtual event have been La Caixa Foundation, Cellnex, Gramona and Estrella Damm, and Abacus has also collaborated.