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Friday, August 19, 2022

Emilio Ontiveros and the virtuous cycle

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The death of Emilio Ontiveros adds new evidence to the feeling that an era of journalism is coming to an end in Spain: the era in which, coinciding with the beginning of the transition, not only the newspapers could count on professionals from all fields, but also this The professional world felt compelled to follow the appeal of the newspapers as an expression of their civic duty. It was not the noise or the slogan that should be imposed, as has become the norm nowadays, but the rigor of the data, the congruence of the arguments and the ability to synthesize them that made them comprehensible to readers and listeners, citizens, in short – the analysis of the Problems the country faced at a crucial moment and the possible solutions. Such was the case of Emilio Ontiveros, who found in the newspapers EL PAÍS and Cadena SER a natural extension of the lecture halls of the Autonomous University of Madrid, where he worked as a professor of business administration and where four decades ago he was pro-rector of one of the areas with the greatest contact to students.

Emilio Ontiveros is best known for his economic analysis in the media. His scientific publications and his influence in decision-making circles in business and politics are well known in specialist areas. A position he has acquired over the years both through his generous personal availability for all consulting requests and through the training of many economists who have held positions of responsibility at the university and in his own consulting firm. What is perhaps less known is the work that Emilio Ontiveros did as vice-rector, perhaps because a long time has passed or because it was simply not as closely linked to the economy as his later work.

Shortly after being elected to the position, Emilio Ontiveros assembled a group of students to persuade them to take part in a project he spoke enthusiastically about. It was a university newspaper through which he suggested channeling criticism of a system that was still reformed after the end of Francoism and, of course, of the leadership of the rectorate team, to which he himself belonged. Among the students who attended the meeting, I remember Belén Gopegui in particular, perhaps because the article she published in the first issue of the newspaper, apart from the meeting in the law school classrooms, revealed an unusual literary sensibility. , later confirmed in his most successful novels. In these convulsive times of the university and the country, Belén Gopegui knew how to turn an original description of the university windows into a committed reflection on the concerns of the society in which we lived.

One of the first to notice this talent was Emilio Ontiveros, who did everything in his power to pave the way for them, as well as that of other future writers, then simple university students with a strong literary vocation. When I found him years later in the editorial offices of the newspaper EL PAÍS and Grupo Prisa, it was difficult not to recall this remote scene in his Vice-Rector’s office and to imagine the virtuous circle closing, as economists often say. Partly because nothing about him had changed: he was still this affable, spirited, enterprising professor and above all always ready to admire the success of the work of others instead of blaming mistakes. For bonhomie, no doubt, but also for a unique understanding of civic duty.

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Source elpais.com

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