On Tuesday morning Amnesty International published a report on the trial of the Catalan independence leaders calling on Spain to release Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart without delay and requesting that their convictions be reversed. The NGO also voiced its “grave concern” over the future implications of the verdict, warning that it paved the way for penalising and criminalising non-violent protests.
Bearing in mind that Spain’s TV networks never miss any titbits to do with Catalonia’s independence efforts and the imprisonment of the Catalan activists and political leaders, the news coverage which the story received was laughable. The only news programme that offered a full report on the matter was the main news programme on La 1, Spain’s public broadcaster. The on-screen headline read that “AI demands the immediate release of the two Jordis” and a short video explained that the NGO felt the sentences imposed were too harsh and called on the Spanish authorities to review the crime of sedition.
In contrast, La Sexta Noticias ignored Amnesty International’s report, and so did Más vale tarde, the afternoon chat show. Anchor Antonio García Ferreras did feature the story on his Al rojo vivo show. His peace came after a clarifying preamble: AI believes that “the trial was fair”, followed by a mention that “they felt the penalties were too harsh and disproportionate”. However, we should take a moment to analyse how Antonio García chose to give the specifics of the issue. He referred to the story during a live chat with Lola García, the Barcelona-based La Vanguardia deputy editor-in-chief. The Barcelona journalist was the only one whom he asked to comment on the news. García Ferreras remarked to Lola García that it was “a relatively major blow”. It was so relatively major that at no point did he ask his panel of guests about it. It was a sly strategy to frame the story as if it were “regional news”, the sort of second-tier piece that only deserves a commentary from an off-site contributor, well short of the stories that Ferreras must regard as far-reaching and worthy of discussion by his panel. What’s more, that same day his panelists spent longer debating the fake news about Tsunami Democràtic and Seat —which they presented as genuine— than the AI report, which they were never asked about.
On another private TV network, Antena 3, neither Espejo público nor the news programmes mentioned the story. On Telecinco, their morning chat show ( El programa de Ana Rosa) ignored it altogether and so did their news bulletins.
Let us hope that AI’s press office will have made a note of it all and will warn of Spain’s media bias when it comes covering the NGO’s reports in their next assessment of the quality of reporting in Spain.