Eduardo Gonzalez Vega: “A free press is one of the cornerstones on which a democracy must be based”

Camilo José Cela University organised the chat entitled ‘War reporters: a space for peace’, an online round table discussion in which topics on journalism and news were discussed in the contexts of international conflicts.

Victor Arribas, director and presenter of Telemadrid’s Telenoticias 1, moderated the panel, which included Eduardo Gonzalez Vega, professor at Camilo José Cela University; Pilar Cebrian, war correspondent; and Luz Eliana Gallego Henao, lawyer and expert in conflict resolution methods in Colombia.

In his presentation, Arribas specified that during the discussion he would speak about international conflicts, how to report on them and how they should be resolved. “I have always admired war correspondents because of their professionalism and dedication in reporting what they witness to the world”, he said.

The director of Telenoticias 1 at Telemadrid highlighted “Hemingway, Kapuściński, Pérez-Reverte…” as some of the most well-known and prestigious war reporters and pointed out that “the function of a war correspondent is not to mediate in a conflict, but the information they provide and transmit will surely help to end them”.

Eduardo González Vega extolled, in his address, the role and value of journalism in history and in today’s society. “Journalism is one of the great axes on which any political conflict pivots”. The UCJC professor also remembered the communication professionals who have died in recent years in various internal conflicts: “According to the United Nations, between 2016 and 2020, 400 journalists have been murdered. In 2022, 24 journalists have already been murdered (6 in Ukraine and 7 in Mexico). In addition, 500 people have been imprisoned in this period for being journalists and 87% of the murders of journalists go unpunished”.

“Journalists create the first drafts of history”

González highlighted during his speech that “the free press is one of the cornerstones on which a democracy must be sustained” and wanted to remember that “journalists create the first drafts of what the story is going to be. As Gabriel García Márquez said, “journalism is the best job in the world.”

Pilar Cebrián gave her view of the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a war correspondent. “Two sides are being defined in the war in Ukraine. There are two sides and one of them tries to point out that the traditional media are pro-NATO and promote alternative information, but that is where that post-information and that manipulation sneaks in”. In addition, she stressed that “Citizens must trust the traditional media and must distrust those messages whose origin is not very well known”.

Eliana Gallego, for her part, noted that “conflict is inherent to human beings. The important thing is to be able to reach a fair and stable order and society, positive peace as a scenario”, and she cited her country as an example: “We have many examples of transformation of peace in Colombia”.

Eduardo González concluded the panel expressing his desire to “give importance to the role of journalism for journalists, through educating young people on how to consume news, and for journalism itself to be self-critical.