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Losu de la Torre
Catalan and Spanish journalism have been in mourning since this afternoon in which Antonio Franco Estadella (Barcelona, January 17, 1947) has died after 10 years of living with cancer. The doctors of the Clinic will tell in future symposia the example of the giant who surpassed chemotherapy treatments up to six times, a milestone. Franco was a fighter in every possible facet. An incombustible being who gave himself up to the profession of journalist before he was in his twenties and who starred in a revolution in journalism during the Transition and the one that followed.
To him we owe the irruption in the market of the first modern newspaper of the last section of the 20th century and the advent of the 21st, El Periódico de Catalunya, “A popular, center-left, Catalan and Barça & rdquor; product, your business card, in which he experimented and matured each of the steps that upset concepts and ways of exercising the trade. The newspaper archives will keep their mark on the ‘Diario de Barcelona’, ‘El País’ and El Periódico. Precursor of color covers, of ‘full color’, of an egalitarian labor regime without distinction between reporters, pagers, photographers and cartoonists, also promoted the edition in Catalan of El Periódico, another event (October 1996) in the defense of this country and that has not yet received the recognition it deserved. In addition, he was the first ‘commander’ to immerse ourselves in the search for the new space in which the written press is embarking today. With successes and errors. Of many successes and some failure.
A whole life devoted to journalism
With Franco leaves an unrepeatable style, a very personal way of directing newspapers, just as unrepeatable. It is recommended to look for the recent interview published in the magazine ‘L’Avenç’, a way of farewell without saying it and in which this ‘lleidatà’ of sentiment and roots details the most important chapters of his biography.
Franco has died without wanting to write the book where he told so many things of which he was a witness and protagonist. “I would not be honest because there are things that will stay with me and I do not want to deceive people & rdquor ;, he said every time one of his closest ones encouraged him to leave a will, nothing to do with the lives of saints that he had to devour in adolescence (he was an altar boy) and that left so much mark on him when exercising the office. He was born to rule, although he would have liked to be a sports or events writer. He belonged to the generation of professional relief after the death of the dictator. He became a newspaper editor at the age of 31, one of the youngest of that Spain. The Francoists of the Generalissimo were left behind and the Francoists of journalism emerged, all in their twenties accompanied by the surviving Josep Pernau.
He recognized as his great teachers Santiago Nadal, Josep Pernau, Manuel Ibáñez Escofet and Josep Tarín Iglesias. The accomplices in the immense trajectory, the (his) brothers Carlos and Emilio Pérez de Rozas, Xavier Batalla, Xavier Roig, Xavier Vidal Folch, Àlex Botines and so many others (how to forget the wise chain smoker Michelangelo Bastenier or the Europeanist who knows the most about economics and finance Andreu Missé). And always with him Jose Antonio Sorolla.
In the portfolio, the photo of Antonio Asensio Pizarro, that boy from the Sagrada Família neighborhood, son of a printer, with whom as children they played soccer games in the street and with whom he joined forces to found El Periódico 43 years ago. years.
El Periódico con Franco had two stages. That of the foundation, from 1978 to 1982, when he entered ‘El País’ of Polanco and Cebrián, and the longest, from 1988 to 2006. Under his direction, the newspaper reached the top, surpassing the figures of ‘La Vanguardia’. A fellow traveler defines him as “a brave & rdquor ;, an innovator who built a modern way of handling information, of building teams, a reference for many Spanish and Latin American newspapers. He was ahead of the boom time that Spanish journalism had, when expenses, signings, correspondents, trips and projects were not spared.
It is not an exaggeration to say that at the end of the 90’s he almost died from a work accident. A heart attack sent him to the pits. He returned to the newsroom months later with a renewal impetus. He had imagined what the newspaper of the first years of the 21st century must be like. And there he was, in the very hard battle.
In its trajectory it is necessary to remember the pulse he maintained with Jordi Pujol during the Catalan Banking case, the error of ‘freezing’ for weeks the papers of the ‘Filesa case’ that staggered the PSOE of Felipe González (in 1991), the duel with José María Aznar on March 11, 2004, that of the great lie about the authorship of ETA in the Madrid train massacre, the promotion of the Barcelona-92 Olympics and leading from the newspaper the ‘No to the war’ of Iraq (2003). There were many more, like that editorial about 3% of CiU (2005) that gave rise to the legendary diatribe of Pasqual Maragall in the Parliament.
The wild side, thug
Antonio Franco also had a wild side, which he always believed he had under control. In the 70s, he co-founded the satirical magazines ‘Barrabás’ and ‘El Papus’, which today would not pass the #MeToo cotton on as thuggish, irreverent and macho.
The neighborhood boy who liked to play the million dollar machine in the bar downstairs, the passionate game of football caps, cockle sandwiches, the one who warned that his heart was “always on the left & rdquor ;, he had many passions. The almost priority, FC Barcelona. Behind the pseudonym Antonio Bigatà (in homage to his partner Milene), wrote for decades about Barça. It was Ibáñez Escofet who recommended that he choose another label, because a journalist from the projection announced by that very young graduate from the Church’s School of Journalism in 1968 had to preserve the best heritage: the signature.
In recent years, Franco-Bigatà has become an unbeatable expert in international football. He distributed loves and hates in the different moments of Barcelona. He loved Guardiola, Cruyff. Also to Messi, although in the goodbye he was touched, screwed with the 30 of PSG. He fought a lot with Josep Lluís Núñez, he was too charitable with Josep Maria Bartomeu. He was a furious anti-Madridista who admired Zidane.
Bigatà has left without revealing why it was unconditional fan of Elche. A summary secret, a love for the white shirt with a green stripe, which led him to travel when he could to the Altabix stadium, to eat defeats and draws and some victories with his inseparable Carlitos Pérez de Rozas. And with Pepito Martínez Ibáñez. The field of Elche, this is how we baptized his office in the newsroom, where there were exorbitant fights, reconciliations, dismissals, readmissions, hugs, smiles and some tears. There was no middle ground, everything was excessive, excessive, although that bear body hid a shy sentimentalist. He did not like to be singled out as a misogynist because of the very few women in his ‘stafs’ and was upset to learn that he had reporters who were very afraid of him.
Antonio Franco, of the generation of May 1968, Frenchified with the beard of a whaler, the one who waved the newspaper ‘Libé’ as a flag, it would not have been him without his wife Milene, without their children Carlota and Andreu, without his chosen as friends, among whom should not be forgotten Ildefonso Sanchez, confidant and guardian angel.
He chose to be on the side of ordinary people. He did not like money or tinsel. He fled from palaces and royal weddings, he preferred walks by the sea of his Barcelona and through the fields of Esterri d’Àneu (Pallars Sobirà). He enjoyed eating, listening to Sylvie Vartan, Peppino di Capri and the Beatles, and reading regional French newspapers.
The director who founded this newspaper spent his last weeks in a small village near Bordeaux, at the mouth of the Garonne, where he always spent the summer. When he returned, he had the courage to write his last article, a reflection on how the times of journalism have changed, of that paper that still wraps sandwiches and protects recently scrubbed floors and that of the vertiginous clickbait.
A person we will not forget.