Bob Woodward is one of the most famous investigative journalists of the United States, he turned emblematic back in 1973 when he unveiled, in a long series of publications in The Washington Post, the invisible threads of the espionage plot mounted by the then president of the United States, Richard Nixon, against the offices of the Democratic Party in the Watergate building, located in the North American capital.
He and his colleague Carl Bernstein managed to systematically unravel the mysteries of that conspiracy to the point of figuring out the blameworthy: nothing more and nothing less than the President of the United States, thus he had to resign consequently to such scandal.
This discovery has remained as a model of investigative journalism that is not afraid of upper power, that does not faint while seeking for truth, that verifies every detail from different sources, that is inquisitive in front of who are afraid enough to speak, and that isn’t stoppable before the barriers of silence.
Since he won the Pulitzer Award of Journalism in 1973, Woodward has taken pains to write books about the life and actions of other American presidents and the Pope John Paul II, in which he makes the most of his masterful investigative instinct, bringing to light the ins and outs of many historic aspects rather unknown about these relevant characters.
Still at 65 years old, he preserves that youthful energy and spirit to sniff at the bottom of sleeping scandals. He demonstrates this with his latest and controversial book “Fear: Trump in the White House”, in which he recounts unknown features of the behavior of the USA president Donald Trump and his collaborators in the White House.
It really impacted me when he narrated, to the delegates at the 74th General Assembly of the Inter American Press Association (SIP), how he met a high government official while the dawn was drawing close, to collect notes for this last book of his.
Woodward was close to the official’s residence. He made a phone call at 11:30 p.m., telling his information source that he was about four minutes away from his house at that moment and that he wanted to see him and interview him. After an initial resistance, the official agreed to receive him immediately. The interview lasted until five in the morning.
That was his style during the Watergate investigation and that’s the model he recommends to younger journalists of today: “Get out of the Internet, get out of the library, go to the places that feature the events, do a detailed examination. There’s nothing better than learning in first person. You have to find brave people willing to say what they think and go to them instead of using the Internet or going to certain offices. The interviewee’s home is where he feels the most comfortable at. It is an extraordinary method taking this off a White House that is so secretive”.
In this lesson, Bob Woodward coincides with a famous American publisher, Joseph Pulitzer, in whose name the prestigious award for quality journalism has been created, who was also scandalized when he visited the newsroom of a newspapers company that he had bought in New York, right when he saw all the reporters sitting behind machines or doing interviews through a telephone.
His order to the director was quite blunt: “from now on, I want everyone to go to the streets and only return when they have a good story to tell”.
This is a key factor that we mustn’t ignore, specially in this era in which the technologies allow us to perform very agile news searches, immediate contacts and save great distances. But the essential thing remains being the direct contact with the people and the landing on the scenery only found on the actual streets, where we can actually feel a set of signs and realities that our senses do not construe, analyze or perceive when we live inside the bubble of an editorial room, as slaves of a screen.
– Translated from Spanish by Randy Rodriguez.