Pandemic used to undermine freedom of press in Catalonia, says journalists’ guild
Reduction of in-person interviews and press conferences seen as worrying trend by Col·legi de Periodistes
The journalists’ guild in Catalonia has warned against an increase in "anti-democratic practices curtailing the freedom of the press" during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a manifesto released for the World Press Freedom Day on Monday, the journalists association (Col·legi de Periodistes, as it is known in Catalan) criticize the reduction of in-person press conferences and interviews with political and economic leaders.
According to the text, the pandemic "can’t serve as an excuse" to normalize online press conferences. "This should not become the new normality, because then it’s harder to ask questions and follow up on them, which is a crucial part of journalists’ work," it reads.
The guild also denounces "discrimination, vetoes and leaks" by public authorities in matters of general interest, showing preference for certain media outlets while making the work of others harder.
Barring photojournalists from entering hospitals and other places of interest "is a clear attack on the freedom of the press" and "censorship", according to the association.
Additionally, the Col·legi de Periodistes has criticized the delay in "much-needed reforms of public media", demanding that they become independent from the government to avoid political interference, and ask for media heads to be chosen following "strictly professional criteria."