Interview with Jacob Petrus, director of the TVE program “Aqui la Tierra”

INTERVIEW with Jacob Petrus, geographer, climatologist and scientific communicator who directs and presents the program “Here the Earth” on Spanish Television. He also collaborates on “Las Mañanas” on TVE and on “Gente Despierta” on RNE.

-Jacob, in what way have the Internet and social networks changed the way we practice journalism?

In my case, with the twenty-odd years of experience in the world of media, I can say that it has obviously changed a lot. Networks and the Internet have become a source of information, above all, immediate.

It has nothing to do, for example, when I started – I'm talking about the late 90s – how we received isobaric maps, which we did through a facsimile radio, to how we receive them now immediately through the social networks: with different models, with images that we can enlarge, color, print… The truth is that, I insist, it has nothing to do with it.

The Internet has brutally expanded the sources of information, in such a way that one of the things or one of the challenges or the jobs that those of us in the media have to do is learn to choose what our sources of information are. information, which I think is one of the keys today.

-How do social networks benefit the work of journalists?

Continuing a bit with the first question, it obviously benefits you in immediacy. Whatever happens, you know that through the Internet and through social networks you are going to have a massive volume of information that you yourself will have to filter to try to understand what is happening and what the reasons are.

Even beyond breaking news and in-depth reflective articles, the Internet has also become a kind of encyclopedia in which we find a multitude of studies and bibliographical references to analyze any issue. It has nothing to do with it, today specialized journalists are no longer as specialized as before because the Internet has eliminated many of those barriers.

When I started in this world I had the feeling that specialized journalists were specialized because they had a much greater background, knowledge, than the rest and perhaps that difference today has disappeared slightly.

They have also brought negative consequences… what would be the main 'evils' of social networks?

The problem with social networks is that you have to know how to differentiate the quality of the source of information. Unfortunately, today a tweet from an anonymous person is worth the same as the information that the communication department of a study center can offer. In principle, the same applies, or at least that is the case for most users.

However, it is necessary to have judgment and know who is behind that information, where they have extracted it from, how they have extracted it. Unfortunately, it is observed with generational leaps, how respect for the sources of information is lost, the source is undervalued… But the fact that information comes from a good source of information must be praised much more than other characteristics.

It is curious that, at this time, when we have so much information at our disposal, we often lose the ability to reflect or analyze correctly. The pace is so dizzying that we go to clickbait, to updated information as quickly as possible, but we often miss the reflection, those articles that we could read in the newspapers where a news item was discussed in depth. Today, with the way we inform ourselves, especially through social networks, we are missing out on that type of content.

How do you use social networks?

I use social media a lot, especially for my work. I recognize that on a personal level it is very difficult for me, and they recommend that I be more active on social networks, that I publish more things, both on a professional and personal level, but I recognize that it is still very difficult for me to expose my personal life. If I share things that have to do with work or my hobbies, with sports, with nature… But, in any case, I mainly use them for work.

For me, they are a source of information that allows me to know what the news of the day is, to know what is happening meteorologically first-hand and practically in the second. Obviously, when working on a television program, social networks have become another source of image supply and there is very little difference between those supplied to us by the agencies or those that the territorial centers of Spanish Television can obtain and those that we obtain. Many of our viewers manage to record using a state-of-the-art phone.

There is very little difference and, therefore, we also take advantage of that work that people do. Always with one characteristic: we always ask for permission to broadcast any of the images we take from social networks. First because we guarantee that this image is of the person who tells us what it is, we guarantee that it is from that day and that place to which they refer and also because it is a form of respect for the work that a person has done.

It is the same whether he has done it at an amateur, professional, or selfless level. For us, it is one of the pillars of the program to ask permission for each content we offer. In the vast majority of cases, people gladly give us the images and only in a few cases do we find negative responses that hide quite different reasons behind them. But it must be said that, in general, people have no problem giving us this type of content.

What are the platforms you use the most?

On the one hand, Twitter (X), because there I find many meteorology fans and many research centers: from the State Meteorological Agency to universities and companies that have to do with meteorological content, meteorology departments of media outlets. Spain and the world…

In it I find a lot of information, but also on YouTube, on Instagram or on Facebook, because we also feed on many images of recovery centers or zoos that allow us to then explain stories of many animals that are in danger of extinction, personal cases of the specimens, etc. It is also a way to extract content for the program.

Even recently, TikTok has also become a source not only of information for programs, but also a place to display many of the contents we make. For example, the intros that we do with costumes, with props, with interpretation… we take advantage of social networks so that they have more coverage and not only appear in the program. The ones we like the most are shared on TikTok, which is better suited to this type of content.

Do you think that on television they are getting the most out of the networks? Is further integration possible?

It is difficult to answer that, perhaps I would say no, that television is not taking full advantage of the networks. There is so much information that I think no, that it would give more coverage and that greater integration is possible. Networks are a fundamental source of information, and depending on the type of information even more so. For example, we are very used to tweets from celebrities or their Instagram Reels appearing in the information about the heart and we offer them in information spaces, but perhaps not so much in other areas. I think there is still a lot to do in areas such as sports or music. In fact, I have always thought that nowadays a music program could be made on television, but that it would be absolutely essential to have a section with information extracted from the social networks of the singers or the record companies.

What role do networks play in “Aqui La Tierra”?

As I said, in “Here The Earth” the networks play a fundamental role because they allow us to feed ourselves and know what is happening at a meteorological level, not only through the information in data, but also through the content in images, video… They also allow us to be in contact with people, many times they send us requests, we receive proposals for reports… so it is a way to be in contact with people and make people feel closer.

There is a part that is beautiful, because we also get many personal stories of how people experience the program. Some are very exciting. Recently a girl wrote to me and told me how for her father, who was suffering from Alzheimer's in a very advanced state, it was a must every day to see “Aqui la Ttierra” and that even when he practically no longer recognized anyone, he did recognize me. and he had dialogues with me, he talked to me on TV and he got angry when I stopped going out. Well, they are really beautiful stories after almost 10 years that we have been on screen in which a lot has obviously happened and people have spent many minutes and many hours of their lives watching “Here the Earth.”

How do social networks help you achieve an audience? Why is it important to measure social audience?

I think that today it is difficult to quantify how social networks help the program's audience, but it is important to take it into account. There are two types of sources, there are two types of audience, although it is often common, but I believe that social networks allow us, for example, to sell program content or even once it has already been broadcast so that the quality of the product can be seen. we make.

“Here the Earth” is one of the most downloaded or most consulted programs on the platforms. We know that on RTVE Play it is the third most consumed program. People look for the program to be able to watch it at other times or, for example, to retrieve reports that have already been broadcast. Maybe they are looking for the recipe for a product, a restaurant, a landscape in the area they are going to visit… It is a kind of encyclopedia in which 10 years of life are stored. If I remember correctly we have more than 10,000 reports and it would be very unfair if all that were lost with just one daily broadcast. Social networks are also a good way to access all this content in a delayed manner.

What feedback do you usually receive from viewers?

It's great, it's a wonderful way to stay in touch with them, to tell us what things worry them or what they like about the program. So that they can make us proposals, personal stories… The program has a Social Networks department that constantly feeds and that generates a number of responses that I personally am unable to see in full. Sometimes I retrieve a Facebook post and see how many comments there are and I get very excited. Feedback is very good even for receiving criticism.

As long as they are constructive it is fine, you notice that people are attentive and the work we do on a daily basis has to be absolutely rigorous and honest. Those two pillars let you know if you are doing it right. We receive some criticism, but above all it is a way for people to transmit to us the very positive feelings that the program generates and that, for example, they can watch it as a family, with children, with grandparents… which is one of the characteristics of the programs. television programs in general from this country that many do not meet.

Can you tell us any curious anecdotes that have happened to you online?

Many! But I'll tell you one of the things that's been happening to me lately. Being one of the most watched programs on TVE and on TV in general, because some days like Sundays we tend to be the most watched is something that seems like a miracle to me given the program it is, with the budget it has. But having this exhibition is allowing me to find many members of the Petrus family that I didn't even know existed.

Petrus, there are few of us, my grandfather was from Menorca, he came to Barcelona and the family broke up, but since there were few Petrus, some of them, when they saw me on television, looked for me and contacted me to find out if we were family, and if In some cases it was. It's something very fun, you get to know more about your family or even your past. Recently, a teacher at the school I went to when I was four or five years old recovered the photos of an end-of-year performance that we had done and it is material that I would not have if it were not thanks to him and social networks.

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