BURLADERO.COM LA AVENTURA DE LOS TOROS EN INTERNET
During my yearly trip to Seville I have made it a habit to go to the El Corte Inglés department store to check the shelf in the book section which contains the bullfighting books. When I did this last April, almost hidden beside a big volume of Cossio's LOS TOROS series, I found a small paperback book, the title of which grabbed my attention: BURLADERO.COM LA AVENTURA DE LOS TOROS EN INTERNET.
My curiosity about the title was aroused because I wanted to know if the book was related to the Website Burladero.com for which I was the United States correspondent for almost three years, until the site was closed.
When I opened the book and perused it I found not only that the story of the Burladero.com Website was the theme of the book, but that there were also a few brief references to my participation in its adventure on the Internet. I bought the book and later read it on the plane on my way back to Maryland.
The book has 217 pages and the contents are divided into an index, nineteen chapters, a prologue and a few pages with pictures. Miguel Angel Moncholi, the well-known Spanish taurine author, reporter, broadcaster, and founder and manager of Burladero.com, appears on the cover as the author of the book. In reality, this claim to authorship is misleading since, according to the index, Moncholi wrote only four chapters while the remaining fifteen chapters were written by twelve members of his team, including editors, technicians and Burladero.com reporters from different countries.
The introduction in the Prologue is by Zabala de la Serna, the taurine critic of the Madrid newspaper ABC. He says in reference to BURLADERO.COM, that:
This book narrates his [Miguel Angel Moncholi] adventures and misadventures and those of his staff, the struggle for finding the truth in a world of lies while swimming in an ocean among sharks. As if the truth would exist--- unrealistic! But his search, like that for the Holy Grail, authenticates independent and authentic journalism....
We learn of the struggle to make Burladero.com a true and independent means of taurine information by reading the nineteen chapters written by Moncholi and the twelve members of his team. Each writer, by narrating his or her experiences, and stating the successes and failures in the quest, and by sharing feelings and aspirations with the readers, plus the retelling of some humorous anecdotes, contributed to the story of the site from several different perspectives.
Moncholi does not claim that Burladero.com was the first site on the Internet disseminating information about bullfighting, but he asserts that it was the first site that introduced an innovative way to convey the information directly from the reporters to the readers without any prior editing or censure. This was done by providing the reporters with a format to which they had to adhere when writing their pieces, so that their reports would have a somewhat similar appearance when posted on the site. The reporters were also bound by uniform ethical restrictions. For instance, they had to distinguish clearly in their writings between opinion and news, and give credit to the original source of the information. Furthermore, reporters had to agree that they would not accept any gratuity from anyone interested in the publication of specific information. Upon agreeing to the standards and to the ethical rules, they were completely free to send any information they believed to be pertinent. To expedite the process, the reporters were given a code by which to access the site, and by using it they could enter the information directly at any time. The result was always immediacy of the news.
This original method brought success to Burldero.com, since about two months after the first report appeared on the Website, this taurine site was certified as the leader on the Internet based on the number of visits. It was a gift for the aficionados and professionals since, for first time, they could count on an independent means of information where they could instantaneously learn what was going on in any point of the bullfighting world.
This sudden success made Burladero.com the recipient of several prizes, among them the iBest, prize considered to be the Internet Oscar, La Mejor Información Taurina de la Temporada 2000 from Radio Ebro of Zaragoza, and the VII Trofeo Nacional Cossio from the Real Federación Taurina de España. Nevertheless , the immediacy of information without review or censure, as we will see later, was also the main cause of the demise of Burladero.com and of its disappearance from the Net.
Moncholi relates that, after overcoming many economic, entrepreneurial, technical and organizational difficulties, Burladero.com was registered as a corporation on January 12, 2000. The company was formed by six members with a small working capital of about $7,000. Three weeks later, thanks to the efforts of an idealistic team, the first news posting appeared on this innovative taurine site.
From then until February 1st, 2002, when Burladero.com news service was cancelled, according to editor Mario Juarez, the service posted 13,749 items of news, interviews, editorials and essays in 24 months, which averages monthly posting of 673.87 of information. During those two years more than 15 million ‘hits’ or visits to the site were recorded. The site remained in cyberspace until October 12, 2002, but Burladero.com, without the continuous flow of unbiased news, no longer held the same attraction for the readers or for the idealistic team of collaborators on the site. Therefore, it closed.
From reading the content of the book, one concludes that from the beginning the adventure lacked the economic means to arrive at a good port, and that the end was accelerated by a Spanish Government law that made any corporation liable for libel and slander for the content of its Website with fines ranging from 6,000 to 600,000 euros. Moncholi rationalized, in response to criticism that the closure was not caused by economics, but by problems with his local team and correspondents, by saying that:
The end of Burladero.com was caused more by commercial and economic problems, that is to say by external factors rather than because of the collaborators losing their professional dignity and honesty, since they are unable to succumb to pressures.
Furthermore, he clarified that his taurine detractors failed to close his site;
It t was done by the Spanish Government Administration through the publication in its Official Bulletin of October 12, 2002 of the Ley de Servicios de la Sociedad de la Información y del Comercio Electrónico [law pertaining to commerce and information on the Internet].
The other writers note in their chapters that they found many inconveniences in carrying out their tasks such as, for example, not being accepted as bona-fide members of the taurine press. Nevertheless, one of the most annoying problems for the Burladero.com staff was to be unable to stop the flagrant plagiarism committed by the Spanish media. The media published or broadcasted news that had previously been posted in Burladero.com without crediting the source. Since the complaints were ignored, the local Madrid team came up with an original plan to catch the violators. They published the results of an imaginary novillada with non-existing novilleros on a cartel that reportedly took place in a town not found on the map. The next day the media reported the created news as real, and later the names of the imaginary novilleros were listed in the 6TOROS6 statistics as having fought one novillada. Burladero.com had no legal recourse but they did have a laugh by posting news and editorials revealing the truth and ridiculing the plagiarists.
The writers of the book dealt with several other topics, some of interest to the public, and others limited to the curiosity of persons such as me, who were part of the development of the site. There are comments about their camaraderie, internal politics, testimonials, parties, statistics and other subjects, of little interest to outsiders. As can be expected of a text written by thirteen different authors, the prose is of varied quality and style and at times, there is some repetition or overlap of facts and opinions. Overall, I have to say that I found the book interesting and informative, since the narration of the creation and development of a taurine information site on the Internet is a topic about which the public has very limited knowledge.
I end this review on a personal note. As the Burladero.com correspondent in the United States, I was able to let the taurine world know about the dynamic American aficion, reaching a wider audience than I could reach with my own site.
I sign off by citing what Rosa Jiménez has to say in BURLADERO.COM, THE ADVENTURE OF BULLFIGHTING ON THE INTERNET about my own adventure on the Net. She wrote in chapter XVI, titled Burladero versus competencia about the pioneer sites of bullfighting information on the Internet. She mentions the important contributions made by Stanley Conrad with his Mundotaurino.org, and by Martín Ruíz Garate with the Asociación El Toro de Madrid site, and later as one of the founders of Burladero.com and serving as its Webmaster. She also comments about "Los toreros con ratón" mentioning that several bullfighters like to experiment and play with the mouse on the Internet, and she added that:
As in everything else, somebody always wants to do more. This is Mario Carrión’s case with his Mundo del Toreo. Carrión was a matador in the 50’s... When his career reached a status quo, his hung up his tools and left for the United States, where he manages his own Website. The most interesting aspect of his site lays not only in reading his interesting opinions and those of his contributors, but also appreciating the good taste with which the site has been constructed; and because it is bilingual, ---English and Castillian. One can also learn about the community of aficionados which has recently flourished in California.
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