The Camino de Santiago, the editorial by Franco Michienzi

A delicate and moving tale. We have borrowed the words of the main character as the starting point for a brief reflection on truth 

by Francesco Michienzi

A vacation, which derives from the Latin vacuum, is a period of unfilled time when the individual does not have to carry out their usual everyday activities. When on vacation we have the opportunity to create an alternative to our normal routine and this could foster a sense of freedom and wellbeing, making us feel far-removed from everything stressful.

And so what could be better than a good book or film? I chose The Way. It tells the story of Tom, a successful American doctor who divides his later years between the clinic where he works and the golf course, where he distracts himself with his colleagues. One day Tom receives the news that his son Daniel, who was in his 40s, has died in a storm in the Pyrenees. After travelling to Europe to collect his son’s mortal remains, Tom discovers that Daniel had started walking the Camino de Santiago, an 800-km path between France and Spain travelled in stages by pilgrims for a wide variety of different personal reasons. With his son’s ashes in his backpack, Tom decides to walk it in Daniel’s place and complete his journey. His encounter with three unexpected travel companions along the way forces him out of his solitude. Tom is an ophthalmologist and as such deals with the eyes, the mirror of the soul. But there are things that escape us and, in order to find their meaning, their soul, a much longer and more challenging journey is required, to be completed on foot.

This delicate and sometimes moving story is packed with areas for reflection.

On his journey, Tom has a conversation with one of his travel companions, a writer looking for inspiration, and tells him that if he wants his books to be a success he must always write the truth. At this point I started thinking about newspapers, magazines and Barche. I asked myself whether we always write the truth. When reading the editorials of all the latest magazines it seems that this is really not the case.

Reading “We offer the reader the added value of unbiased information, based purely on our expertise” makes me laugh slightly. I wrote it myself in 1995 and similar words have been written by all those who have embarked upon this path. There’s nothing wrong with it, but writing it while hinting that others are biased is not a great thing to do.

Before answering the question about whether Barche always tells the truth, I would like to make the following reflection. In order to survive, a publishing house needs the support of advertisers and readers who buy the magazine from the newsagent. Readers buy the magazine if it is authoritative and if it meets their need for information or simply to fuel their passion. Advertisers pay to advertise if readers are interested in that magazine. There are many ways of conditioning what we write and describing things as they really are is something that lies upon the conscience of every journalist.

Our history speaks for us. Nevertheless, I must admit that it is often difficult to tell the whole truth. This is especially the case when talking about companies, how they act on the market, which entrepreneurial logics they adopt, how they get back into play after a failure as if nothing had happened and many other aspects. Without claiming to play the odious role of moraliser, I have sometimes talked about these matters, but the words of false appreciation for my writing were never transformed into tangible action because it is complicated to fight on behalf of a sector where decency and transparency ought to be the rule.

I realised that the only way to be independent is to be so financially. Not to be scared of losing an advertiser is the only way to achieve this. This year has taught us that at difficult times only one’s own strength and the support of those who always believe in you, whatever you write about them, allow you to produce an authoritative publication. As Tom said to his travel companion, the way to success always passes through truth. 

(The Camino de Santiago – – October 2020)