Pressure from the publishing industry has weakened the watchdog
role of journalists, turning them into lapdogs at the service of
corporations and politicians and unable to serve their readers.

That’s one of the conclusions of Bernardo
Diaz Nosty
, journalism professor at the University of Malaga.

Diaz Nosty, also a journalist, is the author of “Libro
Negro del Periodismo en España”
(the “Black Book of Spanish
Journalism”), an in-depth analysis of the current media situation
in that country, now also common to other parts of the world.

The book, co-published by Madrid’s
press association
and the UNESCO
Chair of Communications
at the University of Malaga, also
addresses the detrimental relationship between political power and
media organizations.

Its publication comes at a time when many European countries are
grappling with similar issues, from the proposal to regulate
journalists
in the United Kingdom after the phone-tapping scandal
to a similar “black
book”
about government-run media in Italy.

Here are excerpts from the interview IJNet conducted with Diaz
Nosty.

IJNet: Why publish a “black book” of
Spanish journalism?

Bernardo Diaz Nosty: The concept of “black
book” refers to denouncing a situation, more than just presenting
the reality of a story … And that reality is more global than
local. It is a crisis of the values of democracy, a degradation of
journalism.

IJNet: What is the current state of journalism
in Spain?

BDN: In general, Spanish journalism has a long
tradition and its major newspapers are very good, but excessive
pressure from the industry has weakened (the media’s) role as the
watchdogs of democracy; they became an extension of those powers,
instead of [serving] readers and viewers …

IJNet: What problems does the journalism
profession face today?

BDN: The replacement of well-paid,
experienced professionals by young people fresh out of college, who
earn no more than $1,500 or $2,000 a month. And also, hiring many
interns, fellows …

IJNet: How does this affect the relationship
between media and the government?

BDN: Every government … forms alliances with
the media. Our system has many public stations associated with the
government because of the information they publish, and those stations
have no credibility. The close relationship of the media industry,
political power, which moves many millions of euros a year, has built
a vast system dependent on the government at the national, regional
and municipal level.

IJNet: How does this fit into the debate that
exists worldwide on the future of journalism and new media?

BDN: We’re undergoing an irreversible
transition to a new media landscape. The technological skills of
these new audiences, the “digital natives,” are crucial. In
addition, we’re experiencing a paradigm shift, with a new generation
that seeks to build a global society based on transparency,
interaction and rebuilding society.

IJNet: You write about an “academic bubble”
in the book. What do you mean?

BDN: I refer to the 75,000 journalism graduates
in Spain, to which you need to add thousands graduating with degrees
in communication, advertising, etc.

The market and the industry cannot absorb them. But as long as
there is such a large supply of graduates, companies will take
advantage of the situation and pay miserable wages. This deteriorates
journalists’ social prestige and independence.

IJNet: How can Spain’s journalism overcome
this situation?

BDN: Just as it happened in France, the United
Kingdom or the United States: regaining credibility, getting close to
society, gaining independence, respecting an increasingly demanding
public, going back to journalism.

Valentina Giménez is an Uruguayan
journalist and writer for IJNet. She is a senior journalism student
at Universidad Católica del Uruguay and works for the weekly
national newspaper Búsqueda covering politics.

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The post originally appeared on the The International Journalists’ Network’s site, IJNet.org. IJNet helps professional, citizen and aspiring journalists find training, improve their skills and make connections. IJNet
is produced by the International Center for Journalists in seven
languages — Arabic, Chinese, English, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and
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