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King Felipe VI asks for rigor and truthfulness in journalism in view of the new technologies
Award of the 34th series of the King of Spain International Journalism Prizes

King Felipe VI asks for rigor and truthfulness in journalism in view of the new technologies

27/03/2017 - Madrid
Press release EFE

The King pointed out today that journalism, “for being true”, needs to be governed by 'truthfulness, rigor, information cross-checking, professionalism, impartiality, and responsibility”, values which “must not ever be compromised by the acceleration or by the increased use of the technology'.

Felipe VI chaired the ceremony for the award of the King of Spain International Journalism Prizes and the Don Quixote Prize, which this time honor Mr. Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Ms. Carmen Posadas, and professionals from México, Cuba, Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia and Spain.

Organized every year by the Spanish state-owned news agency Agencia EFE and by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), with the sponsorship of the building and concessionaire international OHL Group, the 34th series of the King of Spain Prizes were awarded at the Casa de América together with the 13th Don Quixote Prize, which is sponsored by the Spanish state-owned company TRAGSA.

The King Felipe VI highlighted in his speech that these prizes show the “growing interest” of Spanish and Portuguese journals on “new issues”, such as the Environment, technological innovation, the circular economy, nutrition and preventive health, the new migratory flows, or cybersecurity, all of them “of growing interest, or even sources of worry”.

With regard to the “new ways of communication” which Internet has made possible, the King also warned that “these new channels or tools” have generated its own “communicational space”, which demands from the journalist “more sophistication and a better judgement for selecting, filtering and for actually being better informed”.

Furthermore, the King appreciated that these Prizes have become the first to span 'the totality of the Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking States of the world”, thus making possible to acknowledge a “great linguistic area” made up by about thirty countries and 750 Million persons with different cultural identities, but with a “high capacity for understanding each other”.

After praising the “great job” carried out by Agencia EFE and the example set by its professionals as a “public service” beyond borders, he congratulated all the prize-winners – also in Catalonian, out of deference to one of the prize-winners – specially praising Mr. Pérez-Reverte for his contribution to “the good use of the language, which is a universal requirement for Culture, Science, and the Media”.

The event was attended by the President of the Spanish Lower House, Ms. Ana pastor; by the Government’s Vice President, Ms. Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, and by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Alfonso Dastis; also present were the Deputy Secretary for International Cooperation, Mr. Fernando García Casas, and the Chairman of Agencia EFE, Mr. José Antonio Vera. At the ceremony were also present a number of representatives from Culture, Politics, Business, and the diplomatic corps.

In his speech, Mr. Dastis pointed out that in the current environment, in which at times it is difficult to make out the trustworthy information from false news, there is a need for a journalism which guarantees the “sacred respect for the facts'.

The head of the Spanish diplomacy stressed that quality-journalism is going through “difficult times”, due to the fact that the technological change has given place to “the proliferation of tools which allow to inform the general public with an unusual speed”.

As he pointed out, journalists have the responsibility of “carrying out a job which must look after the sacred respect for the facts”, at a time when “the abundance of data has modelled a critical reader, but sometimes with difficulties for making out the truthful and correct information from the false news and the manipulation'.

For his part, Mr. Vera warned against the growth in the Media of the so-called “Post-truth”, a subterfuge “for denying obvious facts”, or for opening up room for “self-interested or adulterated news' which even seek to interfere with electoral procedures and that are no more than “manipulation and propaganda, disregard for the facts and for truthful and cross-checked information'.

In reality, the “Post-truth” is “a cult to no truth, to sensationalistic journalism, and to counterinformation, with the goal of exerting influence on public life and on citizens”, he stressed, before warning: 'We journalists cannot, and must not, fall into the degrading expansion of the inaccuracy, the rumors, or the malicious stories” just for “winning more share and thus, more income and more advertisements'.

Against this “pathology of false news”, EFE has inscribed into its genetic code 'the best antidote”, which is “the inexcusable habit of checking the truthfulness of the facts and cross-checking” the news, pointed out Mr. Vera, who, due to the difficulties for reaching in journalism a “total and pure objectivity”, encouraged the audience to practice the “the honest subjectivity” in the search for the truth.

In this ceremony, the King awarded to the Member of the Spanish Academy of the Language Mr. Arturo Pérez-Reverte the Prize Don Quixote for his article 'Los godos del emperador Valente' (The goths and Emperor Valente) in which he draws similarities between the fall of the Roman Empire and the current European civilization.

For her part, the Spanish and Uruguayan writer Ms. Carmen Posadas was awarded the Latin 'Soñar en español'(Dreaming in Spanish), in which she defends the value of this language at a time of a growing number of Spanish speakers at world level.

In the Television category, the jury recognized the work of the Mexican Mr. Carlos Loret de Mola for his program on the exodus of the Syrian refugees which was broadcast by Televisa, and within the Radio category, the Prize went to Mr. Jordi Basté, director of the program in Catalonian language El Mon a RAC1, for the news dedicated to informing about the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015.

Within the Press category, the Brazilian Mr. Vinicius Jorge Carneiro Sassine won the prize for his press report on the O Globo daily about the refusal of the Brazilian Air Force to transporting human organs for transplants, while the jury awarded also a honorific mention to the Bolivian Mr. Genciano Pedriel Jare for his work on a rural clinic on the Bolivian highlands.

The Spaniard Mr. Gregorio Rodríguez Ramos collected the prize for Digital Journalism on behalf of the specialist team from the El País daily for '40 años del 20 N' (40 years since 11/20), while the Cuban Mr. Yander Alberto Zamora de los Reyes won the prize for Photography for his photo for the news agency Reuters 'Llegada del Air Force One' (Arrival of the Air Force One), showing the historical landing of the presidential aircraft which carried the US President Barack Obama to Havana.

As for the Special Latin American Prize for Environmental Journalism and Sustainable Development, which is sponsored by Fundación Aquae, it was won by the Colombian Ms. Patricia Gómez and her team as the authors of the press report 'Plomo: veneno invisible' (Lead: The invisible venom), broadcast by RCN Televisión.

The prize-awarding ceremony was closed with the intervention of the choir of Fundación Excelentia, which sang the main theme of the film “1492: Conquest of Paradise” composed by the Greek Vangelis,, as well as a typical Spanish operetta, 'La chulapona', by Mr. Federico Moreno Torroba.

The Don Quixote Prize is endowed with 9,000€, while each of the winners of the remaining awards will receive 6,000€, besides of a bronze sculpture from the artist Mr. Joaquín Vaquero Turcios.

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