Aitor Albizua is the face of the Spanish television industry. He has been presenting “El Comodín de la 1” on TVE since its launch in 2005, making him a familiar figure to Spanish television audiences. In this exclusive interview, Aitor tells us all about his career, his challenges and successes, and his advice for aspiring television presenters.
INTERVIEW. Aitor Albizua, who presents every afternoon on Televisión Española the quiz show “El Comodín de la 1”, says he has fallen for TikTok’s power of attraction and that he can spend hours swiping up with his finger to move from one video to another on the social network owned by ByteDance. He has not yet taken the leap to create specific content on this social network, but he does share some moments from the program that have gone viral. He assures that on many occasions social networks, in television, are still seen “as a filler” and that few are aware of their importance. We talked to him about journalism and social networks in this interview that, as it could not be otherwise, also arose in the networks.
Aitor, how have the Internet and social networks changed the way journalism is practiced?
-I imagine that the networks have changed a lot and in many ways the way of practicing journalism. I am from a generation that grew up professionally with a cell phone in my hand and pending what was happening on Twitter, even Facebook. It is a very valuable tool that can be a great source of information, in addition to facilitating contacts between journalists, institutions, politicians…
-In what way does it benefit the work of journalists?
-It provides the journalist with a taste of the conversation that is currently being had in society. An open window to a mix of information, opinion and entertainment. Although not always the controversy or the topic under debate in social networks is the same as in real life. In addition, the democratization of the networks is very interesting in all senses, this of being able to interact directly with the manager of a company or the character of the moment.
-But there are also changes that are harmful… Disinformation, overinformation… what would be the main ‘evils’ of social networks?
-Well, anything that does not comply with the basics of journalism. Many times we take for valid something we read in networks without it being true or without verifying that what is being said is actually happening. Having more sources of information does not mean, far from it, that all that information is good. The work of journalism in these situations makes more sense than ever. It has to be a kind of filter.
-In what way do you use social networks?
Well, right now I’m in a stand-by stage with social networks. I basically use them as a showcase for the work I participate in, both on TV and on the radio. I also use them to consume content, more on a personal level, on Instagram or Tiktok: videos, reels…
-Which ones do you use the most?
-Right now I’m hooked on Tiktok. I’ve surrendered to all its attraction effects and I can spend a lot of dead time watching videos, finger up and down. I have not yet passed to the other side, I find it hard to encourage myself to publish my own content, beyond bouncing some moment that has happened in El comodín de la 1. It’s a language that escapes me and I really admire people who put in the time to create content. It takes work, it’s demanding… and it’s hard to find a place for it when you have other professional and personal duties.
-Do you think that television is taking full advantage of the networks?
-Well, probably not, but I don’t know for sure. Until recently, in the teams I’ve been part of, networks have been seen as a filler. That is, as something that everyone is aware that you have to have, “we have to be on Twitter”, but very few are aware of its importance. Hence, usually, the networking work is done by a young person in the team (taking advantage of the fact that they use the networks in their day to day) but without investing enough in their specialization in this type of communication. Neither in terms of training nor in terms of working conditions.
-Is greater integration possible?
-Yes, of course. Use the networks not just as another showcase for our work but as another platform with another type of content, interaction with the audience, a source of stories. Networks are underutilized, but we have to take into account that a large part of our audience does not use them as much as we think.
-What role do they play in your contest?
-Well, I would say that they play a discreet role. We don’t have our own program networks, we are part of the community of La 1 and RTVE. With the hastag #ElComodínDeLa1 every afternoon, conversations are created around what is happening live on the program.
Content that I usually read in its entirety to know the opinion of a sample of the people who are watching the program. I also participate as much as possible. I know that there are followers of the program who have discovered it thanks to seeing some moments in the networks.
-Do the social networks help the good audience data you are getting?
-In our case I don’t think so, we are not a program that focuses on network content. That is not incompatible with the fact that there are people who have become followers thanks to seeing us on social networks. A large part of our audience has been achieved thanks to TV, the RTVE family and the RTVE PLAY platform.
-What feedback do you usually receive from viewers?
-For the moment (and I’m crossing my fingers) it’s mostly positive feedback. Generally comments and criticisms about my figure in the program, that if they like this or that, opinions of all colors and for all tastes. Although it is not always beneficial, I try to read everything. And I admit that I often pay attention to what is said, but without going crazy. You have to know how to filter it. I am also an easy blocker, it is necessary and healthy.
-Can you tell us a funny story that has happened to you on the networks?
-With a cell phone in your hand and different social networking apps installed, anything can happen. Sometimes I’ve messed up posting personal content on professional accounts by mistake.
The nicest thing that has happened to me recently is that a fellow journalist who wrote to me through social networks asking me for a job ended up applying for the Wild Card, came to compete and won the €30,000 prize. I was thrilled, I didn’t know he would come. He earned it and he needed it.