Francisco R. Pastoriza. Professor at the Complutense University of Madrid
The economic crisis that began in 2007 has spread its tentacles to some of the sectors that most need to get out of it. One of these sectors is journalism, about to disappear as we have known it so far. Journalism is a crisis that began long before the economic and stock market crises that we currently suffer, but aggravated by them.
Professor at the University of Seville, Ramón Reig has been announcing it for years in some of his books and now launches a new call, between despair and helplessness, in his latest work "Crisis of the System, Crisis of Journalism" (Gedisa). To Reig, journalism is in crisis because it has abandoned its most essential principles (and therefore caused its rejection by its readers) and that the powers-that-be has entered within their boundaries resulting in, among other things, the emergence of new censorship and self-censorship.
The economic crisis has aggravated this situation, negatively affecting the quality of information by causing the exploitation of professionals and provoking the appearance of a "citizen journalism" that is nothing more than the new version of a blatant intrusion. The journalist, the victim therefore, would be the last to blame for their own crisis: it is circumstances and the structure of interests that causes it.
The structure of information in Spain
Ramón Reig is a professor of "Information structure" an underrated subject among students and practitioners of journalism, but which should be basic knowledge for both. Among other things, it explains what the relationships between media companies and economic and financial interests that maintain them, and by what means their national and international partnerships are articulated. Their knowledge provides, therefore, guidelines for a more accurate reading of the information they convey, including non-journalistic messages.
Certainly, as Reig says, the presence of large media groups related to corporate and financial interests is not precisely synonymous with pluralism. Now it is an exaggeration to say, as Professor Reig does, that ignoring the connections between big business and the media turns citizens into "human beings vegetate and simply think what is dictated to them" (p.182) because that would accept that they 95 percent of the readers who come to a kiosk to buy a newspaper every morning or viewers of a television newscast of any TV channel, which is to say that in the world (because we are not talking about a phenomenon unique to our country) almost no-one is properly informed, except those who know about all these connections.