IAPA warns of deteriorating press freedom in the United States

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By Jorge Fuentelsaz

New York, (EFE).- The director of the Inter-American Press Association (SIP), Michael Greenspon, warns of the deterioration of press freedom in America over the past seven years and denounces the situation in several countries in an interview with EFE The Ibero-Americans and above all Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, where the “only freedom of expression is that authorized by the government”.

“Until 2015 we were seeing an improvement in democracy and a loosening of press freedom, but over the last five or seven years there has been an increase in authoritarianism in the Americas and people manipulating and shutting down the media when they can,” Greenspon said. , who gave the interview before traveling to Guatemala, where he plans to meet with political leaders.

In a room at The New York Times newspaper, where Greenspon works as global director of print licensing and innovation, the IAPA boss stresses that the “first and foremost mission” of the company he chairs “is the defense of the freedom of the press and expression”, objectives which join – he continues – those that he and his newspaper defend.

A defender of press freedom

File photograph showing the president of the Inter-American Press Association (SIP), Michael Greenspon. EFE/ Borja Sanchez-Trillo

With a law degree and a previous career at the Boston Globe and the Washington Post, he admits to having studied law thinking he would defend “the freedom of the press contained in the first amendment (of the American Constitution) and that he would defend journalists and media organizations by law.

“Threats to freedom of expression are more present than we have seen in probably 20 years,” he says, before pointing out that when IAPA was created 80 years ago “the situation, somehow, was like now: there couldn’t be any complaints from within the country.

In this sense, he says he is embarking this week on a trip to Guatemala to “exercise international pressure” in a preventive manner.

In Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua “there is no freedom of expression and there is only the freedom to express yourself in the way that the government allows you. Guatemala may not be at an extreme like these three countries, but there is a tightening of freedom of expression,” he said.

Twenty journalists murdered in Mexico last year

File image of a group of journalists protesting to demand justice for the murders of their colleagues in Tijuana, state of Baja California (Mexico). EFE/Joebeth Terriquez

In his unhurried English, Greenspon, who promised to deliver his farewell address in Spanish, also mentions Mexico, where 20 of the 40 journalists murdered on the continent died last year.

“There is an increase in verbal government attacks on journalism, and also an increase in murders of journalists, and we see that the police and the government are not always trying to solve them,” he says.

“Whether explicit or implicit, it really feels like there is authorization (from the authorities) and that is why we have asked the Mexican government, on several occasions, to investigate and prosecute the murders of journalists.”

Porque para él, los Gobiernos authoritarios, que “pueden ser Gobiernos authoritarios elegidos democráticamente”, cuando “no quieren una democracia libre y abierta, una de las primeras cosas que hacen es limitar los medios y lo estamos viendo cada vez más en todo” el American continent.

Verbal attacks that also recriminate American politicians like former President Donald Trump as the epitome and main standard-bearer of such oral violence against the press.

“In the United States, some attacks are not as direct as they used to be, but politicians have managed to attack the media. We are a useful scapegoat for them and it has continued. (…) If we say something that someone ‘one doesn’t like it, they attack us for it,’ he says before indirectly pointing to the Republican and Democratic parties and insisting that even though the situation has improved, the environment continues to be ” hard “.

The future is uncertain in the media

The president of the EFE agency, Gabriela Cañas, and the president of the Inter-American Press Association (SIP), Michael Greenspon. EFE/ Rodrigo Jiménez

Beyond defending press freedom, another of Greenspon’s priorities in his year as head of IAPA is to fight for the increasingly threatened survival of the media in the face of difficulties obtaining of financing.

He mentions the importance of digital platforms paying the media for the use of their information and that governments draft laws to prevent many of them from shutting down in the short term.

But beyond that, he also seeks that the big technology companies offer the necessary help to the media so that they can develop the digital transformation necessary not to be shipwrecked in the long term in the Internet ocean.

“We meet regularly with the platforms, in particular with Google, to try to get them to pay the media directly for the content they use, but also to get them to support media and digital transformations,” he explains. , before becoming optimistic and assuring that he hopes that during his year as president “there will be progress and an increase in payments to the media in America”.

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