Paco Moreno, Mediaset News Director: “Piqueras will be there as long as he wants and only he will decide his future”

Paco Moreno has only been working in the Mediaset newsroom for a few days with two objectives: to renew and “modernize” Telecinco’s news programs and to relaunch Cuatro’s. He says that he flees the trenches and speaks of “sensible, rigorous and empathetic journalism with focused positions.” “We have to get good stories, build them in an attractive way and let the viewers give their opinion,” he says to Informalia. “My goal is for this editorial team to establish an emotional bond with the audience in which we are authentic,” explains the man who was, until a few days ago, head of TV Canaria, where his management was highly applauded, especially during the catastrophe of the La Palma volcano.

The launch of the new Mediaset news programs will begin in January, with the future of Pedro Piqueras still up in the air and the challenge of turning Telecinco and Cuatro into an information reference after years without being one. “To achieve this, you have to be ‘infantry’ every time something happens,” he explains. “The management of Mediaset is very aware that to be a reference and achieve leadership, from time to time we must leave our comfort zone.”

How are these first days at Mediaset going? What wording have you found?

I have felt very supported by a very generous and dedicated staff in their work, who like to do journalism and who fight to defend their image of independence and neutrality in a scenario that is increasingly poisoned. They welcomed me very well and I felt integrated quickly.

What news programs do you want for Telecinco?

For both Telecinco and Cuatro, I want news programs that do not lose their original hallmark, where there is no hatred of any kind and where we do not position ourselves in these increasingly difficult scenarios due to their polarization. We have to have a very central and transversal position. This does not change, because it comes from behind. I have to preserve it so that it continues like this. From there, we have to modernize to show a renewed image. Too much time has passed and there have been technical innovations, where infographics and augmented reality have more weight, and that forces us to reinvent ourselves. Technology must be at the service of content, and not the other way around, to help us create better content.

What instructions have you received from Alessandro Salem?

Do a job that is as professional and inclusive as possible, taking into account what these information services have already achieved. We have to make this channel an informative reference and hope that one day they say: ‘That’s true because Cuatro or Telecinco said it.’

Currently, Telecinco’s news programs are not a reference and the public does not turn to them when something happens, as happens, for example, with La Sexta.

Here the entertainment profiles were more accentuated than the informative ones, limited to the time zone in which they were broadcast. To be an informative reference you have to be ‘infantry’ every time something happens. And that intention is what the chain has. The management of Mediaset is very aware that to be a reference and achieve leadership, from time to time we must leave our comfort zone.

Is it possible to make objective and neutral news in these polarized times?

They can be done, another thing is the perception that the viewers have. What they have now is that they are news programs that people value for their neutrality. We have a very focused position and that is good. Furthermore, we must lower the soufflé for the sake of everyone’s coexistence. Things must be told without the need to provide anything other than the facts. Collect them, contrast them and present them brilliantly.

Can you be competitive that way? Because the feeling is that you can only compete from the trenches.

I am convinced. I come from directing a chain [TV Canaria ] which has no fierce criticism from those who sit on the right or the left. You can do rigorous and empathetic journalism with the audience that sees you.

It seems that Telecinco has turned to the right in recent months. Is this going to be reflected in the news?

The news has no color. They are the things that happen. If it’s raining, it’s raining. What we are not going to do is journalism in which someone says that it is raining and we put someone in who thinks that it is not raining. We’ll go outside and see if it’s raining or not.

Telecinco’s audience crisis is general and the news programs do not have ‘opening’ programs that help a lot, as happens on Antena 3 [La Ruleta o Pasapalabra] Have you asked Contents for ‘help’?

I look forward and never back. And I don’t judge what has nothing to do with my responsibilities. I have been news director since Monday of last week and I am responsible for what happens from now on.

What is going to happen with Piqueras?

In addition to being an excellent friend, Pedro is one of the professionals that I most admire in the Spanish audiovisual scene. Pedro will do and will be in this house, because he has earned it, for as long as he believes he should be. For me it is a luxury to have him by my side.

Will it be in January?

It depends on him. I’m not going to put any date on it and no one has. That depends on his own will.

I understand that the network is talking to him to decide what he wants to do. Does it depend only on him?

It depends on him, no one is going to make a decision that he must make.

If Piqueras wanted to continue presenting the 9:00 p.m. news…

Let’s not speculate on what we don’t know is going to happen. It is an essential prop and it has been and the day it is gone another prop will have to be placed, but there is no more speculation to do because the one who is there now is Pedro and it will be Pedro who decides his future.

Do you have any deadline?

We have a goal, not a deadline. The objective is to release news programs on sets with renovated decorations adapted to the current circumstances and times for the month of January.

What news programs do you want for Noticias Cuatro? How are you going to coordinate with Juan Pedro Valentín?

We are a team, you have all my trust and all my respect, and all your proposals seem very timely to me. Cuatro is a magnificently positioned network, its news programs had Gabilondo, so it has earned prestige, although they later dispensed with weekday news programs. There is a collective imagination of what Cuatro should be and what we have to do to reactivate it.

Cuatro is a rival of La Sexta. Should it have a political profile as strong as its competition?

I’m not talking about the competition. I am one of those old journalists who consider that dogs do not eat dog meat and I am not going to give my opinion on what others do. There is a good audiovisual scene in our country and that should encourage us to do things better every day, but I think we should not repeat the formulas. If someone does things in one way, having another come to do it in a similar way does not help the objective you are pursuing, which is to make your proposal stand out. I appeal to sensible and empathetic journalism and more focused positions. It is not about creating one model in one chain and another in the other. It’s about making information with different ways of telling it. Cuatro is aimed at a more youthful and urban target, but I am not going to ask any viewer for their ideological card. Let them be the ones to choose.

Are Diego Losada and Alba Lago going to be the presenters of Noticias Cuatro?

They are in the options. But we shuffled more, because there are many information products to cover. We have to see the puzzle as a whole.

News Telecinco will say goodbye to the mythical skyline of its set. What is the new one going to be like?

It is going to be the set that a channel of the level of Telecino and Cuatro deserves in 2023. Anyone who watches television in Spain and in the world knows the weight that infographic and live resources have. We are doing a general modernization exercise.

Will we see the presenters standing?

We will see presenters standing. And sitting when they have to sit. And walking too. As natural as life.

How does a person prepare for a position of such responsibility at a time where there will be political pressures?

The only thing I have done my entire life is work and face complicated situations and I suppose that experience is what has brought me here. When I was general director of TV Canaria for the first time, many people said that they didn’t know whether to congratulate me or give me their condolences. We did a great job with the pandemic and the volcano and we showed that being small does not mean you have less intentions. But I don’t have any personal success other than having led teams that give their all and become a benchmark. I have always considered myself more of a colleague than a boss.

The change that TV Canaria has made in recent years has been highly applauded. What did you learn there that can now be exported to Mediaset?

That rigor is not at odds with empathy. News programs can be made in which an emotional bond is established with the viewer due to the authenticity with which one expresses what is happening, and that should not detract one bit from rigor so that the facts are contrasted and confirmed. You can be rigorous and at the same time empathetic. My goal is for this writing to establish an emotional bond with the viewer in which we come across as authentic.

Are you one of those who obsesses over audience data?

The audience is not sought, the viewer must be found and captured individually. The sum of all is the audience. I believe in a job well done and I think that a job well done probably doesn’t offer immediate results, but it ends up giving results.

A few days ago, Carrascal, a reference in author news, died. Do you believe in author news? Are you considering applying them to any edition?

I believe in authorship and behind each news item there is a human work. I prefer to link the degree to which this authorship is carried out more to the exercise of journalistic rigor than to positioning. Journalists are not seen as well now as in the past and perhaps it is because of mistakes that we ourselves have made. There is too much journalism in which the terms are inverted: you have a predetermined opinion and you look for facts to conform those opinions. And it has to be the other way around: our job is to get good stories, build them in an attractive way and the opinion that the viewers give it.

Speaking of this bad image of journalists, the press is the first to receive attacks in the demonstrations these days and in others in the past…

That is still grotesque, because it is paradoxical that someone accuses you of manipulation just when you are in the place where those who accuse you of manipulation are.