The Spanish journalist Anna Bosch has been a correspondent for TVE in Moscow, London and Washington and has covered important international events as a special envoy. This Friday he received the Ernest Udina Award for European Career 2020, awarded by the Associació de Periodistas Europeus de Catalunya (APEC), in recognition of his work.
What is life like for a journalist who changes country every two or four years?
You never get bored and fight monotony, but you do it only if you really like it. It is very enriching, even when you have a hard time, but maintaining a traditional family is difficult in these conditions. There are correspondents who have managed to have a family and move from one place to another, but they are not the majority. Especially in the case of women, we are at a disadvantage.
Moving is torture. You always leave when you start to feel good. That’s the frustrating part. After a few years, there is a danger of assimilating too much into the society in which you are living. When you lose the vision of a foreigner, you can lose your value as a correspondent because even though you give more context to what you tell, you can miss news things that already seem normal to you.
How has the international correspondent job changed over the years?
Several things have changed and one of them is economic precariousness. The media now spend far less on international coverage than they did 20 or 30 years ago. Producing good information requires time and testing, but it is very expensive. Behind every Pulitzer Prize Winner for example, there is not a journalist, but a team of journalists who have been in the field for a few months. And nothing may come of this investigation. But if journalism is not done from the field, it loses its essence. The media repeat each other with news from agencies and the information is more superficial and poor.
In Spain, there are many people who think that what is on the Internet has to be free. How do we finance the media then? A medium that does not have sufficient funding cannot be independent.
During the US elections, did the media manage to have a real voice and not participate even more in all the ‘noise’ of the information?
The media has tried everything to expose Trump’s lies, he has never seen so much fact checking but they faced helplessly at the speed of information. Social networks spread atrocities much faster than the verified data provided by the media. Trump knows very well that noise gives an audience and emits so many falsehoods a day because while he has the press busy in contrasting what he says, do not look at other things. It’s frustrating because more people have voted for Trump this year than in 2016.
Why is American society so fractured?
-The US has always been like two states but Trump is one more leap from this polarization. He is a president who exacerbates divisions instead of trying to seek conciliation. Now, in the chaos of information, we create our own bubble and one becomes impervious to information with which one does not agree.
The level of hatred in American society is what worries me the most. According to the Pew Research Center, 70% of Americans have confessed that they find it very difficult to build a friendship with someone who has different political opinions. In addition, it is not only a polarization by opinions, or by policies, but by the facts, the reality. More than 70% of Americans say that they are unable to agree on the facts with people of another point of view. We live in different realities, it is the new and the serious.
We always hear that the EU is in crisis, after having worked so many years as a correspondent in various European cities, what do you think?
Europe has had several crises for about ten years: the single currency, refugees, Brexit and now the pandemic, which has aggravated the division and the economic crisis. We are in crisis, but I don’t think it’s going to lead us to the end and I don’t think it’s existential. The EU remains a valid community.
Why do we focus more on the boundaries of the EU instead of what it manages to do?
The case of ‘Brexit’ clearly has to do with the media. Without the decades-long campaign against the EU by the British press, Brexit would not have happened. But governments also contribute to Brussels being seen as the bad cop. The states claim what is well received by the population, but when cuts or unpopular measures come, the discourse changes and we hear “That is imposed on us by Europe.” However, nothing is approved in the EU without the agreement of all governments.
What are the unique challenges of journalism in Russia?
It is very difficult to do journalism from Russia. If you post something that annoys the government, it threatens not to renew your visa. But a foreign journalist does not risk his life like a local journalist. The number of Russian investigative journalists who have been killed is staggering. I take this opportunity to show my admiration for the Russians who continue to do investigative journalism. They are great professionals and heroes.