The British Ambassador, Hugh Elliott, moderated on Thursday a debate on threats to press freedom, in which participated the political scientist and journalist Estefanía Molina and Fernando de Yarza, president of the Henneo press group -which publishes, among other media, Heraldo de Aragón, 20minutos and La Información- and of WAN-IFRA, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.
The initiative of the diplomatic representation is part, as the ambassador explained, of the activity of the international coalition in favor of freedom of the press, of which 43 countries are already members and to which Spain is in the process of joining.
During the debate, the harassment suffered in many countries by a large number of journalists, who are murdered or imprisoned for their information, was condemned, and other forms of attack against freedom of the press in democratic countries were also analyzed.
Fernando de Yarza drew attention to the fact that, while traditional media take responsibility for what they publish, this is not the case on digital platforms, where false news is so often published. To illustrate this, he gave the example of what would happen to an automobile manufacturer that produced defective vehicles and did not assume the consequences to the consumer.
For this reason, he said that false information published on these platforms “cannot go unpunished” and recalled that “there are governments that have real intoxication machines in place” through the networks. Yarza said he had more faith in the actions of Justice than in the existence of press laws which -he affirmed- scare me”.
In the same vein, Estefanía Molina, recalled that in the penal code, incitement to hatred or falsification of documents are already typified as crimes so that Justice can intervene, and added that “the only regulation that journalists need is that of the veracity of information and freedom of the press.
Molina pointed out that the red line is that governments are not the ones who should decide what is true and what is fake news. As conclusions of the debate, the president of Henneo, the group in which El Heraldo de Aragón has just celebrated its 125th anniversary, affirmed that the main antidote against disinformation and populisms are the “legacy media”.
For her part, Estefanía Molina pointed out that, in order to be able to carry out their work freely, the media need good financing, “because information is worth money”.
The British ambassador, for his part, pointed out that “quality journalism cannot be free” and reiterated the UK government’s commitment to the defense of freedom of the press.