Climate change can not be blamed only on leaders like Donald Trump. Neither do the difficulties suffered by the free press are the sole responsibility of tyrants and rulers. Citizens and their lost critical spirit are a substantial part of the problem.
According to Reporters Without Borders' annual report, 2018 has been particularly damaging to journalists. The organization counted 80 murdered, 348 imprisoned and 60 kidnapped. Mexico, Nicaragua, China, Saudi Arabia, Hungary, Syria, Turkey or Venezuela are some of the black holes of this sinister map, which can sometimes hide the forest in its entirety. Because there is also a permanent threat to 21st century societies that believe they are free from censorship and manipulation. There are sibylline and silent pressures that deteriorate the right of people to be well informed. Governments, economic powers or advertisers know how to exercise them.
The great depression of 2008 and the technological changes left thousands of journalists unemployed and forced to close hundreds of media outlets. Since then, the weakness of the survivors and the precariousness of the professionals have left most of the media vulnerable to detractors of truthful and annoying information for power.
Every day we learn new details about how networks are manipulated to push voters to vote for Brexit or for Marine Le Pen. We also check the laxity with which personal data are handled by technology companies; a very profitable laxity for them. This past December a report of the United States Senate has been published in which it warns against the technology. They concealed, he says, the seriousness of Russian interference in the presidential elections won by Donald Trump.
We know that networks, in the hands of a global oligopoly, have been made with the advertising pie of traditional media and that on the Internet circulate many free information and opinions as false as biased. They respond to obscure objectives – at least, different from those sought by the free press. They are also governed by the designs of aggregators and algorithms.
In spite of all this, an alarming majority of citizens desert the media that verify information and confront power with a critical spirit; a majority that trusts more in that labyrinth of overinformation that does not contrast a single fact in which the powerful, at last, can intoxicate at their ease.
There are many ways to end freedom of the press. Without a doubt, the mistakes of the media is one of them. But another, very important, is that society neither values it nor supports it.