‘Cròniques del fang. Quan els diaris van donar veu als barris’ [The Mud Chronicles. When the Papers Gave the Neighbourhoods a Voice]

‘Cròniques del fang’ pays tribute to Barcelona's social journalism during the final years of the Franco regime and the early years of democracy. A new form of journalism spearheaded by Josep Maria Huertas Claveria, who dared to publish grassroots and workers' demands, who rediscovered the peripheral neighbourhoods, and gave a voice to their representatives.

The book, with a foreword written by neighbourhood leader Andrés Naya, vindicates Josep Maria Huertas Claveria and the group of friends and colleagues who covered local news in their respective newspapers, who were known as huertamaros. The social journalism that they and other reporters who did not identify with this label were involved in denounced the corruption of the Francoist authorities and the lack of services and facilities that this had led to in the neighbourhoods.

Social journalism and neighbourhood movements

The book was launched on 15 September at the CC Casa Golferichs, one of the buildings that was saved from the demolition ball thanks to pressure from local residents. Several of those huertamaros and friends of Josep Maria Huertas Claveria were present at the event, which was by Barcelona mayor, Ada Colau: Jaume Fabre, journalist, historian and author of the book; Eugeni Madueño, journalist and editor, and journalists Maria Favà and María Eugenia Ibáñez. Also taking part were Andrés Naya, neighbourhood activist and author of the foreword for the book, journalist Marc Andreu, who acted as moderator, and Jordi Martí Grau, sixth deputy mayor and councillor for the Presidency, who brought the event to a close.

At the launch, the mayor stressed that “this book is both fair and highly relevant”, because it reflects the Barcelona that fights for and wins rights, and showcases a diverse, plural neighbourhood activism, which is “a school of democratic tradition”.

Maria Eugènia Ibáñez recalled that “the neighbourhoods gave us journalists a voice, a critical capability and contact with reality” in those post-Franco years when female journalists were few and far between, and there were even fewer of us in senior positions.  There might not have been many of us, but we were “really good”, said Maria Favà. One of the few female disciples of Huertas Claveria, she remembered how she was once thrown out of a press conference because she was wearing trousers.

Neighbourhood activist Andrés Naya emphasised the fact that “50 years ago, revolution in the neighbourhoods was collective”. The journalists and the neighbourhood movement were mutually reinforcing, and many friendships were formed.

Jaume Fabre revealed the true origins of the adjective huertamaros – you’ll need to read the book to find out more about that – and talked about the process of diving into the Huertas Claveria archive to gather articles and stories from those years, to avoid falling into the traps that oral memory so often sets for us.

Eugeni Madueño stressed that Cròniques del fang is part of an ambitious research project and of a series of books aimed at recovering the memory of journalism, such as Periodistes malgrat tot [Journalists Despite All] for example, also published by the Directorate of Publishing Services, which analyses the press during the Franco dictatorship.