Reporters Without Borders warns that the media in Spain are giving more and more opinions and reporting less

Above Bhutan and below Austria, Spain is the 32nd in the world in press freedom in the world, according to the report that Reporters Without Borders performs each year. The country has fallen back from the 29th position last year, but the organization itself warns that the implementation of a new, more complete methodology to prepare the document subtracts weight from this change.

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At the global level, RSF's World Press Freedom Index "reveals a double polarization, amplified by information chaos: media polarization, which creates fractures within countries, and the polarization of states, on an international scale." The ranking –which is carried out based on indicators of the political situation of the countries, the security of journalists, the legal, sociocultural or economic framework in which it is exercised– it is cornered in its first positions by countries of northern Europe: Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, Finland, Ireland and Portugal appears in seventh place. Costa Rica is the first and only non-European country in the top ten. The US appears in 42nd place, China in 175th, Ukraine in 106th and Russia in 155th.

“Increasing precariousness”

The NGO warns for the case of Spain of "increasingly opinionated media and a growing precariousness of the profession" despite "the improvement in the safety of journalists and legislative advances" to promote freedom of the press. In this section, the organization values ​​as positive that “the possible repeal of the so-called crimes of expression (injuries to the Crown, religious sentiments, advocacy of terrorism, etc.) is being processed in Congress; the article of the 'Gag Law' that criminalized the capturing of images by the press has been declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court and the most controversial provisions of this law are also in the process of being repealed by the Courts”.

However, despite these advances, Reporters Without Borders warns of "the proliferation" in Spain -also in other countries- of the so-called SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, which could be translated as strategic complaints against public participation), "actions abusive judicial proceedings filed against journalists with often intimidating purposes and for alleged disclosure of secrets or crimes against honor”, ​​among which he cites those suffered by the director of elDiario.es and the journalist Raquel Ejerique for the Cifuentes case, already archivedor the millionaire lawsuit suffered by El Confidencial by Iberdrola.

The report also highlights with respect to Spain is the validity that is given to the word of the authority: "It is noteworthy that the journalists who denounce police officers are they denounced by them, in the framework of demonstrations, they face legal proceedings in which the police version prevails almost by system”.

“Excessive concentration of the market”

The RSF report, published to coincide with Press Freedom Day, shows its concern for the Spanish media ecosystem and especially for the economic situation of the media, the main factor that places the country in 32nd place. Regarding the excessive concentration of the market, as well as the serious difficulties in creating a medium, the lack of aid to promote the emergence of new publications and the serious precariousness of professionals” mark a situation that is beginning to be structural, exposes RSF.

“The serious precariousness of the profession, which began to settle in with the 2008 crisis and which is already becoming chronic, has a serious impact on press freedom. Information professionals who do not practice in decent working conditions are much more vulnerable to pressure and self-censorship”, he argues.

In the section on aspects that could be seen as positive, the NGO points out that, with what it calls "the deactivation of the conflict in Catalonia", "the political sphere is not as responsible this year for the lack of freedom of the press, as it it is perhaps the mediatic sphere”. The media, says the report, are guilty of their own ills. "Excessive concentration makes it very difficult for new alternative media to appear, which must fight fiercely against the most established titles by subscribers who are in turn affected by the economic situation."

And with this panorama, together with "the great climate of media polarization" in the country, it draws "media increasingly closer to opinion media", warns RSF, which shows its concern about the situation: "Spain is a clear example of the trend towards social fractures that RSF denounces globally in its Classification, fueled by excessively Foxnewsized media [en alusión a los informativos sensacionalistas de la cadena de EEUU Fox] and forgetful with their mission to inform far from political positions”.

In his vision of the international sceneReporters Without Borders warns of "the disastrous effects of information chaos, created by a globalized and unregulated digital space, which favors false information and propaganda" in the world.

“In democratic societies, the development of opinion media in the style of Fox News and the generalization of disinformation circuits, driven by social networks, are causing an increase in social fractures. At the international level, the asymmetry that exists between, on the one hand, open societies and, on the other, despotic regimes that control their media and their platforms, while waging propaganda wars, weakens democracies.”

And he gives specific examples, in a year marked by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia: “The invasion of Ukraine (106th) by Russia (155th), at the end of February 2022, is emblematic of this phenomenon, since it was prepared through a propaganda war. Among the most repressive autocratic regimes, China (175th) has used its legislative arsenal to confine its population and isolate it from the rest of the world, especially Hong Kong (148th), which plummets in the Ranking. The logic of bloc confrontation is reinforced, as is the case between India (150th) of the nationalist Narendra Modi and Pakistan (157th). In the Middle East, insufficient press freedom continues to affect the conflict between Israel (86th), Palestine (170th) and the Arab countries.

But it doesn't just happen in countries with questionable democracies. “In democratic regimes, media polarization reinforces and feeds the internal fractures of societies, as is the case in the United States (42nd), despite the election of Joe Biden. The rise of social and political tensions is fueled by social networks and by new opinion media, in countries such as France (26th). In some illiberal democracies, the repression of the independent press is a factor of intense polarization. In Poland (66th), for example, the authorities have strengthened their control of the public audiovisual sector, as well as their strategy of re-polonizing private media”, warns RSF.

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