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José Ortiz Moya, “El Negro”

Personality of the Month

By Karla Ortiz

José Ortiz Moya, who lives in San Miguel de Allende, is a reporter. He was raised by his father in the old school method. He describes his father as “the noblest person, poor, but with strong values.”

From childhood he realized that school was not his thing, so he boldly told his father that he would finish only primary school, and then he would go out to look for a job.  That’s what he did. José Moya, better known as “El Negro,” set forth on his life with only the education of an unskilled worker.

In one of his first jobs at La Colmena bakery, he learned to value the time that life gave him. He rose at 5am to look after people from the ranches who came to buy sacks of bread. After that he never got up late again, and his social skills soon began to be noticed. “My job was to serve and to help people.”

The first time he held a camera was more than 30 years ago. Then he started playing with it. It was a Kodak camera, not a professional one, but he started taking photos with it.

“Revo” Méndez befriended him and introduced him to the journalistic world. “He asked me to illustrate his articles with my photos and I did it with pleasure. After that I was hired by the local newspaper based in Celaya, El Sol del Bajío.”

Currently he is still working for the same newspaper. He plans to retire but doesn’t have a definite date yet. He hopes that it will be as soon as possible.

“In my work every five years we receive an award. The last one I received was for 25 years at the newspaper. President Ricardo Villareal, my director, and all the media were there. I’m going to reach 30 years soon, and I’m just now retiring. I really want to relax at home and put my feet up.”

He told us that he is tired and that all he wants now is to not be running around everywhere. He needs to stop being the first with the news. José Moya has devoted himself completely to his work, sometimes getting up at 2 in the morning to go to an accident. He works until midnight because you never know when things are going to happen. There aren’t any schedules for news.

Something that Jose Moya likes very much about his job is that he is always well- informed. His job is serving people, but being present in the moment is not easy.  A lot of people know him, and they often see him on the street, chasing a story and rushing to get to the scene by car, taxi, or motorcycle.

José Moya is a person who knows what he is doing, and he knows that it is not easy to be able to express everything in a photo. You always have to look for the best angle. “For the best photo, you have to have a lot of imagination. Besides, who wants to see a photo of your relative lying in the street. That’s why I always work from a distance in order to avoid problems, and not make the relatives suffer more than they already have.”

José told us about his dissatisfaction with the new technologies. Now with live broadcasts, “reporters no longer need to dig up the facts. Instead they just check the online news services so that they can write their articles. Then they just have wait for photos from the photojournalist.” He commented that he does write articles, although that really is not what he likes to do. He prefers to be behind the lens, capturing the moment in a photo. “Journalism has to be understood. It’s like an art, but if you don’t know how to use that art, you will miss a small detail, and then you lose everything. If you use the wrong word,  your whole article is wasted. I hope that I have never hurt anyone because you have to do the right thing. You can’t come to a violent crime scene and use other photos from another scene. I just focus on where I go and what I saw.”

About four years ago, the ex-governor of the state, Juan Manuel Oliva, had an exhibition called “20 Years of Experience.” José is planning on having a similar exhibition where he is going to use his very well-known analogue camera that never failed him in more than 15 years. He expects the event will be held between September 18 and 23 of this year.

He thinks that his work as a reporter was a wonderful time full of great experiences, but he does not plan on continuing to work in a similar job. “There are many jobs where you can bring your lunch to work and do something simple, but I don’t want to have problems. I’m tired of being everywhere. I want to reach a point where if people ask me a question, I can say, ‘I do not know anything.’“

He expressed his gratitude to the people who took the time to give him recognition and homage during his life. One example is the famous Mojiganga who dressed up like him in the parade of los locos. He has all these memories stored in his home. “I don’t have how to repay them.”

One of the strongest challenges that he has had to face was the explosion in Celaya, where he had to work hard to get a good photo in spite of the security forces that prevented him from getting closer. He thanks God that they let him return because his co-worker, Dionisio Diaz, took his last photo, making it “the best photo that has ever existed.” Other dangerous events and challenges that he remembers are train wrecks, stock market robberies, a train explosion caused by a gas pipe, and shootings between drug traffickers.

Today many young people who are studying journalism or communication sciences want to reach the status of José Moya. “There are many young people who are studying or have finished their studies and we have to give them opportunities,” he said. José doesn’t like to say that he is the best because in spite of his 30 years of working in journalism, he assures us that he has not learned everything. He still lacks a lot of knowledge. “I would like to tell young people who want to dedicate themselves to journalism that this is a profession like any other, like being a bullfighter, a policeman, or a painter.  But do it artistically and with passion and pride and people will respect you. In order for them to respect you, you have to respect them and be humble. Do it for the community because at the end of the day, that’s what it is about.” At the conclusion of the interview, José Moya expressed his enormous gratitude to all the people who helped him to grow and to get to where he is today. “I thank the Vázquez Raña family, my director Miguel Ángel Herrera, and my director Argimiro González. They have given me the opportunity to work in this company. They have given me the satisfaction of providing the best of the relevant news from all over Guanajuato and from all over the country to the community. To the people who have the leading role in the news, such as the police, firefighters, red cross, and traffic police, thanks to them I’m “el negro.” I often walk down the street and people say, “There goes the man who takes the photos.” I don’t care if they speak well or badly of me, as long as they speak. It means that I am alive because when the day comes that they don’t talk about me anymore, that’s the end of “El Negro” in San Miguel.


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