Gabo’s Dream in Philadelphia
This is how we believe we are bringing to life the vision of one of the universal masters of Journalism and Literature, here in the adopted hometown of his fellow Colombian, Ambassador Manuel Torres— buried in Old City Philadelphia almost 200 years ago with the honors of being the first Latin American Diplomat in the U.S.
Gabriel García Márquez, better known to his followers as “Gabo,” had a dream —one among the many that populated the wild imagination of this universal master of Journalism and Literature— today memorialized in many parts of the world, including the red wall of the AL DÍA Media Newsroom, here on Market Street West, in downtown Philadelphia.
His dream, however, was born, like he was, perhaps in Aracataca, in the province of Atlántico, in Colombia, or maybe in the imaginary Macondo, the mythical town of García Márquez's fictional but truthful world of Cien Años de Soledad (“One Hundred Years of Solitude”), his most famous novel.
Gabo dreamed of founding a news organization where, as he put it, the median age of the newsroom would average 25 years of age— bustling with the dreams, the energy, and also the zest only people in their mid 20s can muster.
This week, while I was speaking to a crowded room of young reporters experimenting here, in the most innovative journalism lab in our city —the AL DÍA Newsroom in Philadelphia, PA—, it dawned on me that we were inching to get there, exactly 25 years after we started this impractical enterprise in North Philly.
AL DÍA has pioneered since then the training of young journalists from the most diverse backgrounds in Philadelphia, from the moment yours truly hosted the first "writing and reporting workshop", sponsored by PNC Bank, in the basement of Reverend Alberto Filomeno's Olney Church, in the mid 90s.
Or when the principal of Edison High School, Dr. José Lebrón, after a call I placed with his office, sent in 2001 young Geraldine Rosado, then the best in her class as a high school graduate from North Philly. She was sent to play an apprentice role, first, as clerical assistant in AL DÍA's office, then located on 211 North 13th Street, our first Center City location.
While working part-time at AL DÍA, Geraldine, who was told of our real intentions to train her as a journalist, went on through her own individual efforts to simultaneously get a degree in Journalism from Temple University’s School of Media and Communication. Six years later, with a college diploma, and, more importantly, countless hours of training as a reporter at AL DÍA under her belt, she was about to become the first home-grown, Philadelphia-born-and-raised editor of AL DÍA, still under the age of 25.
Geraldine was that capable. And the experience of working at AL DÍA was not that bad.
10 years later many others are following on her footsteps, confident to labor in a newsroom willing to bet on them part of the future, not only of this news organization, but of their rapidly changing profession in the U.S. Here they are learning to be not only multicultural, but also multimedia and multilingual entrepreneurial journalists.
The new media that may be built or rebuilt by their curiosity and industriousness, in this first part of the 21st Century, may somehow resemble, no matter how remotely, Gabo's tropical dream.
By the way, no less daring was the dream of Manuel Torres, Ambassador from "La Gran Colombia" whose remains are resting in the backyard of St. Mary's Church, in Old City:
To aid from Philadelphia a group of young conspirators lead by General Simón Bolívar who at the beginning of the 19th Century were dead focused on another quixotic aspiration:
To liberate by any means necessary the Spanish-speaking America from the autocratic rule of the Spanish Crown.