Censorship is one of the issues that occupies a large part of the books on the History of Journalism in Spain. Prestigious journalists who reported during the Franco regime and the Transition described yesterday at the presentation of the podcast Maestros del Periodismo of the Press Association of Madrid at Caixaforum the difficulties they suffered during those years to inform and defended the role of journalism to ensure democracy.
The co-founder of El País, Juan Luis Cebrián, indicated that the threats to journalists in those years came not only from the Ministry of Information and Tourism, but also from “de facto powers of the previous regime” and that before publishing certain news, the media could wait up to ten hours for approval. Cebrián recommends future journalists “not to be afraid”, as he considers that currently “there is a lot of fear and self-censorship in Spanish newsrooms”.
Iñaki Gabilondo explained at the APM event that in his early years in radio, before going on air, he had to call the Ministry of Information and ask for Censorship to anticipate brief summaries of the news bulletins they wanted to broadcast.
The veteran radio journalist, Luis del Olmo, said that the death threats he received from the terrorist group ETA, which began to carry out attacks at the end of Franco’s dictatorship, provoked the “saddest and most terrible” episodes of his career, to the point of questioning whether he should continue in radio. He says that “I was never more afraid than that morning when I asked my bodyguard to buy a gun to go to the radio station. I saw ETA terrorists everywhere. When the programme was over, I asked my bodyguard to give it back”.
One of the protagonists of the History books on the Spanish Transition is Adolfo Suárez, the first president of democracy, for whom the journalist Fernando Ónega, author of the famous political speech I can promise and I promise in July 1977, worked. Ónega acknowledges that although this was the most acclaimed speech, in his opinion, the one the president gave in the Cortes before the pro-Franco procurators in 1976 is better. The President of the Government’s pen assures us that “Suárez’s voice makes me startle and I think that I am speaking”.
In addition to the difficulties involved in reporting in those years, Pura Ramos and Carmen Sarmiento were also women. Both celebrated the fact that a table of masters of journalism included female voices.