Block journalism in the mainstream media

noticias cara b TC

Fernando González Urbaneja | The partiality of the so-called “mainstream media” when it comes to reporting (not giving opinions or editorialising) on the twists and turns and the ups and downs of political parties is disturbing. They have even lost the appearance of neutrality in their reporting in favour of a tiresome, one-sided view that goes so far as to distort the facts and even invent tensions. Thus, they are losing credibility at the drop of a hat and in the service of nothing. They lose and so do the citizens, who need reliable, documented, accurate and unbiased information.

Some criticise the government without pause or respite, while the others criticise the alternative. The obfuscation of the socialist ministers, headed by the president, to attack Feijóo with homogeneous messages, employing a line of an argumentation that has been cooked up in the propaganda offices, is unbearable. The first few minutes of the news programmes with staggered testimonies from the entire parliamentary arc, all of them predictable and sterile, make you want to change channels to find actual information.

Among the most striking features are the long, apparently elaborate reports that do not meet the minimum requirements of professionalism. For example, page 20 of Sunday’s El País under the headline “El aniversario de la salida de Casado revuelve las aguas en el PP” (“The anniversary of Casado’s departure stirs the waters in the PP“) with a photo of Feijóo. A long article (yet another one on the Casado effect one year later) with nine repetitive quotation marks around the headline but without any source beyond the well-known crutches: “says a pro-Casado leader“; “they say in the ranks of the PP“, “this leader insists“, “he complains…“, “a regional leader opines“, “a party baron analyses“, “other voices state“, “a leader analyses” (twice). In addition, some unquoted words attributed to a source in Casado’s entourage and two quotes, one from Ayuso and the other from Casado, which correspond to well-known and public statements made in recent days.

It is bad that a journalist should pen such a piece; worse that the editor-in-chief then approves it, and terrible that the management does not react with something like “what a load of crap this is”. It is notorious that similar pieces against Sánchez, the government or the PSOE appear in other media, but nine unattributed quotes deserve a prize for bad practice that explains the decline of so-called quality journalism that forgets its editorial purpose as defined in its style guide.

About the Author

Fernando Gonzalez Urbaneja
Over 30 years working in economic journalism. Fernando was founder and chief-editor at El País, general editor at the business daily Cinco Días, and now teaches at Universidad Carlos III. He's been president of the Madrid Press Association and the Spanish Federation of Press Associations. He's also member of the Spanish press complaints commission.