These are some of the words Damián Pachter sent to his editors referring to this media group, dismissing certain publications and comments that affirmed that the journalist had been “harassed and abandoned” by Grupo Ámbito and by his superiors.
As the director of digital content in Ámbito, I am in charge of both Ámbito.com and BuenosAiresHerald.com, and I am Damián’s direct manager.
Shortly after midnight on Sunday January 18 one of the Ámbito.com deputy editors called my cellphone. I was on vacation at that time, what was more like a half-vacation. He alerted me to Damián’s tweet and I immediately called him.
Until that time information about the death of the prosecutor Alberto Nisman had only begun to slowly circulate on Twitter. I asked him to tell me what he knew and I explained to him that I was not in agreement with his tweeting of such an important piece of news, it would have been best to publish it in the group’s media outlets. It would even have been better for him since it would have given the story immediate strength and credibility, avoiding the insulting and disrespectful comments that the story invited from some users at first.
From that point onwards we started to work together, all night long. Neither of the two slept, just like most of the journalists who were called urgently to the newsroom. Damián wrote an article for the BuenosAiresHerald.com with his byline, and Ámbito.com was the first media outlet to confirm the death using the information that Damián gave me.
That Monday we wrote an article and put a joint byline with part of the events of that night, and the parts that the media, the Security Ministry itself and the prosecutor (Viviana Fein) had declined to reveal: we explained how Nisman’s mother had called the paramedics and how she acted.
The next day this forgotten part of the story started to be discussed, a key point in the investigation. I must be the person who talked the most with Damián that week. He asked me how to deal with the amount of media outlets who were asking for interviews and he told me that he was excited by his work, but also exhausted from so many different commitments.
On Friday Damián did not come to work. When the company told me I tried to speak with him, an hour after his scheduled starting hour in the newsroom. He answered my call and in a laconic manner told me that his hip hurt, he was very tired and going to see the doctor.
I asked him to let me know when he saw the specialist. At that point one of his colleagues told me there was a tweet from another journalist that warned about anything that could happen to Damián. I immediately insisted in calling him but I received no reply. I sent him text messages explaining I was worried about that tweet and I wanted to know if he was actually at the doctor’s, or if something was wrong. He called me and told me not to worry, nothing was wrong, he was fine and would contact me after seeing the doctor. Late that night he confirmed this to me via whatsapp.
The next morning he stopped answering my messages. Around midday articles were published in Infobae and Clarín with interviews with Damián, where he said he was being followed and that he had taken the decision to go into exile. We received the news with surprise in the newsroom, as at no point had he told any of us he felt afraid.
The next day he expanded on what had happened since Thursday in an article published by Israeli newspaper Haaretz. On Sunday night Damián sent an e-mail to myself and Soledad Ytuarte, the editor of the BuenosAiresHerald.com. That was when we resumed contact with him. He apologized for leaving so abruptly and without warning, and for the misleading messages. He also agreed to contact us on the phone the next day, and that was the first time those in the newsroom could breathe a little more easily.
Damián’s work colleagues and superiors in the Group have followed the events since Friday with grave preoccupation, and have acted accordingly. He knows this, and is grateful. On Monday we shared a long telephone conversation. He explained to me that since he had talked so often to me he thought that if he told me his whereabouts he would involve me too much. He insisted to me that his phone lines were tapped. In that conversation he told me again his version of events and how he felt about everything. He told me that he needed some peace and that he would give no more interviews in the near future.
I told him the effect his leaving had here, as well as the effect of the comments on his editors and the media outlet where he worked. He believed the comments referring to “harassment” were devoid of truth. For that reason he sent me the following e-mail:
Tuesday January 27, Tel-Aviv, Israel.
To the directors of Grupo Ámbito,
After repeated stories about a supposed poor relationship between the author of this e-mail and the Grupo Ámbito, editor of the Buenos Aires Herald, I write the following with the objective of setting things straight.
I have never had any work-related problem with my direct editors in the online edition Pablo Jiménez nor Soledad Ytuarte, who made the decision to hire me for the BuenosAiresHerald.com in July 2013. Our relationship always has been, and remains excellent. As is my relationship with the editors of the printed edition, with whom I worked on several occasions.
The Grupo gave me the opportunity to write about issues related to Israel, which is not a minor thing. Thanks to their decision I was able to gain further exposure as a journalist, using my personal experience and putting together several articles on the subject.
Moving forward, it is true that I argued with Pablo over the telephone after the publication of my tweets. Do you know any editor who has never argued with one of his writers? I apologized to Pablo in that instance because I was the one who answered inappropriately during the conversation. I took his point and it was put behind us in a matter of minutes.
It is also true that over the last 24 hours prior to my forced exit from the country we basically did not speak. This has a very simple explanation: I was being followed, both physically and on my telephone and I did not want to bring harm to third-parties with whom I had spoken all week.
It was my decision to cut communications during that time-frame because I feared that something would happen to anyone who spoke with me. Yesterday I talked to my editor for the first time since my forced exit from Argentina and this was made very clear.
I would like to take advantage of this space to thank the directors of Grupo Ámbito for understanding my situation. In fact I would like to maintain our working link. I will always be grateful to my editors and colleague. First of all for welcoming me into their team, and second for helping me grow, something that right now is not at all common in our work.
As I try to clear up the situation, I would like to thank once more those who sent messages of understanding and solidarity, and I hope that these words will put an end to the false assertions linked to my relationship with my editors and the company.
Source: Buenos Aires Herald