Thursday, July 7

The problem for the media in Spain

In this pandemic year, the common trend around the world is that confidence in the news has increased. To the question of do you trust most of the news most of the time ?, on average, 44% of respondents in 46 markets that account for more than half of the world’s population say yes, according to the annual report of the Reuters Institute of the University of Oxford. This is six points more than a year ago. Across Europe, the upward trend is pronounced, with more than ten points of rise in confidence in countries such as Denmark, Norway, Sweden or Italy. Spain is the exception. Confidence in the news, which is at 36%, that is, lower than most, is the same as in 2020, when it had already been falling for a couple of years.

In Spain, according to another Reuters study, we have covered the pandemic especially well. At least, those readers say, that feel better informed about the virus or the vaccination campaign in Spain by the media than by politicians or other sources. But those data refer to coverage of the pandemic. The rest of the news does not seem to awaken the confidence that exists in other neighboring countries.

In this turbulent year and a half, the journalists of this newspaper and other media have undoubtedly done an extraordinary job that has nothing to envy that of media with more resources in richer countries. The ability to react to crises, and also to the last hour, has been a strong point of Spanish journalism in recent decades. But the hit and the recognition in readers and subscribers (ยกthanks for your support!) should not make us forget the underlying trend that we are experiencing in the last five years, the progressive disinterest in the news in Spain. In fact, there is a general drop in interest that not even the need for essential information, especially in the first months of the pandemic, has managed to reverse: in Spain, the percentage of people highly interested in the news has fallen 17 points since 2016.

What are the causes? It is difficult to target just one, but some data is food for thought. Young women, in particular, do not feel well reflected by the media and consider that when they are protagonists of the news they are not treated fairly. Most young women in Spain they consider that this problem exists, with a negative percentage of 20 points in the perception of coverage, one of the highest in the world.

If we look at data by ideology, in Spain the people who consider themselves unfairly reflected are above all those who define themselves on the right, but also the majority of those who define themselves on the left. Those in the center are also dissatisfied, although it is the only case in which there are practically the same number of satisfied as dissatisfied. Although those who complain the most, in the world in general, are the people who define themselves on the right, the percentages of angry people are not so pronounced in other countries.

Each medium has its own profile and of course there are very substantial differences on standards, variety of information and care when reflecting the country, but the data should help us to ask ourselves if there are enough voices in our news, if we reflect the life of the people we report on and whether we follow the issues with the most impact.

Trust is an ethereal and fragile value, as difficult to measure as it is to preserve, but it is what we depend on every day. Listening more and being drawn less by empty politicians will probably help us.