Coronavirus: Spanish government yields to the pressure of journalists and agrees to live press conferences
Spanish journalists are finally able to pose their questions to ministers in a live communication and without intermediaries. Thanks to the mobilisation of journalists’ associations, backed by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Spanish government abandoned its practice of asking for questions in writing and in advance.
While Spain has been reaching the peak of the coronavirus crisis, journalists were, until recently, experiencing a great deal of difficulty in getting information and answers from the authorities.
The 300 journalists with government accreditation were not able to attend press conferences in person since 14 March. They had to send their questions in writing and in advance to the State Secretary for Communication who was supposed to pass them on to the prime minister or the ministers concerned.
But some important questions were not passed on, giving journalists the impression that their questions were being filtered. Furthermore, because the answers were prepared in advance, the system did not allow journalists to engage in a direct dialogue with the ministers concerned.
Objecting to these arrangements, 400 journalists, joint by RSF Spain, addressed an open letter to the government, entitled “The Freedom to Ask”. While looking for a solution, two journalists’ associations proposed to deploy a new system based on videoconferences granting a more transparent flow of information.
The pressure of journalists has paid off. Since Monday 6 April, journalists can question Spanish government officials directly and without having to go through intermediaries.