Yesterday, the European and Ibero-American Academy of Yuste Foundation organised a session on “Democratic Governance and the Media”, along with the Extremaduran Agency for International Development Cooperation (AEXCID), at the Extremaduran Assembly.
The Foundation´s director, Juan Carlos Moreno, took part in the opening of the event, and announced that the new Foundation´s statutes “have incorporated social commitment as one of its aims”. “We believe that the Foundation is an instrument that the people of Extremadura place in our hands in order to do good things, and this is possible when being close to the citizens’ problems and to issues that affect our daily lives, in order to analyse them, to reflect upon them, to debate and find solutions to the best of our ability”, he said.
The session focused on the quality of information and the right to truthful information, and transparency; on democratic systems; on the task of investigative journalism to make “the hidden visible”; on the defense of human rights, and on the democracy that the freedom of the press entails. To this effect, the session included the participation of Elena Cabrera, the director of Journalism at the porCausa Foundation, a non-profit organization that carries out social research and journalism on migrations; Silvia Pérez, journalist and member of LA MUNDIAL, a policy-making group with long and varied experience in policy analysis, political incidence strategies and social communication, and the development of research, awareness-raising, and communication actions; Ángel Sastre, an Extremaduran reporter who works in areas of conflict, such as Syria, Colombia, Venezuela, Ukraine, Mexico, and Qatar; Olmo Calvo, a photo journalist who works independently for national and international media and who has documented the economic and social crisis in Spain and the tragedy of refugees on their way to Europe throughout the past years, and Juan Luis Manfredi, a professor of Journalism at the University of Castilla La Mancha and the academic director of the Observatory for the Transformation of the Public Sector (Observatorio para la Transformación del Sector Público ESADE-PwC).
In turn, the director of the AEXCID, Ángel Calle, underlined that “the mass media, as the leading actor in the countries we work in and in our own country, is a key democratic tool”. Calle noticed “not only the flow of information”, he said, “but the ability of the media to educate, make pedagogy, and play the part of an educator in the systems of the twenty seven countries where the Extremaduran cooperation works, and where the systems are yet to be consolidated as democratic processes”.
Calle recalled -in his words- the “leading” role that the mass media has in the region of Extremadura, “it helps us with the dissemination of human rights and disseminating the objectives of sustainable development”. According to the director of the AEXCID, “It is crucial to know how to coordinate ourselves with the mass media in the defense of those values which provide our roadmap”, and he concluded with the compromise that these sessions may “strengthen the work of journalists so that they may work with independence and not be subjected to precarious employment systems”.
Ángel Calle remembered those journalists who lost their lives defending democracy in countries where Extremaduran cooperation is present. He also gave clear acknowledgement to the 49 assassinated journalists in the year 2017, according to Reporters without Borders (RSF), and to the 156 journalists who died last year, according to the Press Emblem Campaign (PEC).
Finally, the president of the Extremaduran Assembly, Blanca Martín, highlighted the work carried out by the Foundation, and encouraged the “strengthening of what makes us strong as a region”.
As far as the session is concerned, she explained that, in her opinion, post-truth “is sweeping away those of us who are trying to make truth prevail in an objectively, and that is why it is important for journalist to be here today”.
In this sense, Blanca Martín stated that the media does not deal with “great current concerns, as there are other reporting priorities”, demanding the union of all the actors involved so as to “shed light on what is happening in the Mediterranean, although it seems as though there are those who do not want to give visibility to the injustices that are occurring in Europe”, she concluded.
The European and Ibero-American Academy of Yuste Foundation will maintain its scheduled sessions, organized in different areas of Extremadura. The second session, “A Gender Perspective to Guarantee Equality”, will take place at the Casa de la Mujer, in Cáceres, on the 23rd of November, and the session “Integration Answers Facing the Migratory-Economic Crises”, on the 30th, at the University Residence Hernán Cortés, in Badajoz.