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  • Since the Catalan independence referendum, accusations of government interference in the media have spurred journalists into action.

    Since the Catalan independence referendum, accusations of government interference in the media have spurred journalists into action. | Photo: Reuters

Published 2 May 2018

Journalists across Spain say the central government's political agenda threatens the media's integrity, credibility and freedom of speech.

Media professionals in Spain have declared that enough is enough, launching protests against sanctions restricting their rights to freedom of speech ahead of World Press Freedom Day on May 3.

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Taking part in the marches are the Federation of Associations of Journalists of Spain (FAPE), the Press Association of Madrid (APM), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and the Federation of Trade Unions of Journalists (FESP) with the slogan 'For free, truthful and independent journalism.'

"The current administration manipulates and prevents citizens from having multiple informative sources; we are not accomplices and we refuse to accept it," employees of Spanish broadcaster RTVE wrote in a statement.

They also plan to open investigations into manipulation and censorship which they say has affected their credibility.

Since the Catalan independence referendum on October 1, 2017, accusations of government interference in the press has spurred journalists to contest Madrid's political agenda, which they say threatens journalistic integrity, credibility, freedom of speech and future employment opportunities.

The Organic Law for Protection of Citizen Security, also known as the Gag Law, was also extended not only to cover hate crimes, but also limiting press coverage of issues deeemd by the government to be of a sensitive nature.

"If you have seen it, if you have noticed the lack of impartiality or that important information is omitted, if you're aware of the manipulation through public media, we invite you... to participate and reveal examples of censorship across your social media under the hashtag #AsiSeManipula ('This is how they manipulate TV')," said the group Mujeres RTVE.

The movement has gained hundreds of followers since its April 30 launch, with many journalists sharing their experiences on Twitter.

 

"When you are ordered to remove a child's drawing in a soup kitchen because 'that does not happen in Spain,'" wrote journalist Alejandra Herranz.

"They put a piece of news on my table without saying that I was accusing Juan Carlos Monedero of tax fraud,"said TVE reporter Emilia Laura Arias. "After checking what the pamphlet said, I said it was not true: that there was no fraud or imputation. 'Make it look like that,' they told me. I refused and another person did it."

Media professional Maria Escario said: "It is important for society to know that the @rtve workers are fighting to defend that for what they pay us, the public service. And we are not going to shut up."

The FAPE has criticized the government's overbearing presence, calling the current state a "backward movement of press freedom" and cautioning that job shortages and "precarious contracts" only make it more difficult for journalists to resist outside pressures.

"To all those responsible for the harassment of journalists and the media in Catalonia, stop the irresponsible campaign of intimidation with which they try to impose their ideas and place as enemies those who hold opposing theses," FAPE said, calling for the 'Gag Law' to be reformed to let "journalists work freely."

FAPE is also demanding that media officials take charge and protest against wage inequalities, which "impede professional journalists from promotions."


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