Spain’s economy and the newspaper industry have both been under pressure in recent years, to put it mildly. But now, in the opinion of the Spanish Federation of Journalists' Associations (FAPE), a crisis point has been reached. FAPE writes that 97% of its 20,000 journalist members are preparing to protest against threats to their industry on World Press Freedom Day on May 3, under the slogan “Without journalists, there is no journalism, without journalism, there is no democracy”.
FAPE members are preparing to “denounce the difficult situation that journalism is going through” in 41 cities across Spain, and the association is calling on the public to support its rallies.
According to FAPE, 6,234 journalists have been laid off since the financial crisis hit in 2008, 57 media organisations have been closed, and 23 have introduced redundancies. FAPE president Elsa González has blamed media executives for the industry’s current problems, and has accused them of “opting to dramatically reduce staff numbers without a clear commitment to innovation and training” instead of supporting “journalism adapted to the demands of people living in the 21st century”.
Agence France-Presse reports that, according to Fernando Cano, editor of the Spanish media news site prnoticias.com, Spain’s two biggest daily newspapers, El Pais and El Mundo, are planning to radically reduce their staff. Cano suggests that El Mundo has plans to cut a third of its journalism staff, and El Pais will make similar reductions, writes AFP. Cano told AFP that the cuts were putting a strain on journalists: “They must do the same work with fewer people and those who remain have their salaries reduced. They are under more pressure and must work more while earning less," he said.
A recent survey of 400 Spanish journalists by the platform Easypress.es, suggests that 66% of those survey who took the survey thought that their jobs were in danger, reports marketingdirecto.com. 47% of those questioned believed that they could lose their jobs in the medium term, and 19% feared redundancy in the short term, states the article. 72% of the reporters surveyed thought that the credibility of journalism has deteriorated over the last 10 years. 56% thought that the outlook for the journalism profession over the next two years was “bad” and 22% said it was “very bad”.
As previously reported, left-leaning Spanish daily Público ceased printing last February, after its parent company Mediapubli declared bankruptcy. Now the publication is only available online. At the time the change was announced, Cadena Ser estimated that 130 of Público's 160 staff would lose their jobs.
FAPE focuses on the negative impact these cuts will have on the quality and freedom of the press. González stated that, through their protest, “we are reinforcing our firm commitment to the defence of press freedom, and we believe that the best way to strengthen it through editors and journalists practicing responsible journalism, based on strict compliance with ethical codes and values such as integrity and professional rigour.”
However, Cano suggested to AFP that the Spanish media sector was bloated and need to be reduced. “As well as having lots of general newspapers, it is unusual in having three locals in every province. It is just not viable,” he told AFP, "A restructuring of the sector is clearly needed. This cannot go on."