Article of Setembre, April 24, 2018 by Sara Blázquez

“Recovering journalistic sovereignty, for me, is changing the chip and understanding journalism as an activity and not as a product of consumption or a merchandise, and recognizing it as a collective practice”

“Recovering ownership of the media, basically, is also to escape commercial and docile journalism with the advertisers and institutions that support practically all the current media”

Setembre is among the promotors of a new European network of alternative and cooperative media

Blaming the Internet and the new technologies for the crisis of journalism is literally an outgrowth of those who are part of what is really causing the crisis of the media: capitalism. And not the disintegration of a business model. In the words of Pere Rusiñol (Alternativas Económicas), “The problem is that where previously there were companies owned by newspaper publishers, today there are companies owned by the financial sector. The problem is that the bank becomes a press editor ».

It is true that advertising revenues, which largely support many media, have plummeted, but it is also true that the crisis of the mass media is due to the mismanagement of its managers, who too often have forgotten the values of journalism to be too close to capital and power. In return, many times, from a simple slap on the back.

Since the crisis began in 2007, 10,000 journalists have lost their jobs in Spain only. Just the same year that many of us left the university, eager to explore ahead or, at least, put a little bit of sand in the transformation of journalism. The news about the closure of the media or the dismissal of constant workers , male and female, made us see that it would not be easy and that the first thing that we should transform would be the organizational model of the media itself.

There is much talk of food sovereignty, productive sovereignty, technological sovereignty … but why not journalistic sovereignty? After all, we have to look at how to better democratic management of resources for media and journalism, and to rethink the way we practice the profession, in some rankings considered one of the most precarious.

Recovering journalistic sovereignty, for me, is to change the chip and understand journalism as an activity and not as a product of consumption or a merchandise, and to recognize it as a collective practice. It is not a neutral ground, it is one of the battlefields of the freedom of expression, of creativity and one of the most powerful tools of social transformation. Recovering this sovereignty will be done through a change of consciousness, a change in its use, the recovery of its collective dimension, but how do we move it to everyday management? What can journalists do?

Well, managing the media ourselves and trying to return to the independent journalism of a lifetime. We must not invent anything. There are media experiences throughout the world that have opted for the cooperative formula. Perhaps one of the best known and successful is the Greek daily Efsyn, which has more than 120 workers, all with the same salary, and an annual turnover of five million euros. When in 2010 the crisis brought Greece to the precipice, most newspapers chose to close or subscribe to new financing, more interested in advertisement than in journalism. From a group of journalists without work after the closing of the newspaper Press Freedom, a journalistic reference of the center-left, Efsyn (Journal of Journalists) was born in 2012, a really different newspaper: cooperative and with the will to play in first division, along with the media that mark the agenda.

It seemed a utopia, but six years later the project not only continues to exist, but has been consolidated without having to renounce any of its rules. The cooperative formula applies even to the production routines of information, journalists choose the director and section heads, and the newspaper is the third party in sales, with figures consolidated above 15,000 copies in a very fragmented journalistic market

And you do not have to go to Greece. at home there are also many, examples. Also with this dual pretension – a cooperative formula and a mainstream vocation – Jornada is about to be born, a generalist media, unlinked to business and financial interests, created in the form of a  nonprofit cooperative,  a mix of work and consumption co-op. Also Direct has become a cooperative, as are Setembre (Vic), Contrapunt (Mollet del Vallès), Fet a Sant Feliu (Sant Feliu de Llobergat) or L’Independent de Gràcia (Barcelona)

 All of them are very different, but they share characteristics that move them away from the conventional media in terms of ownership, the focus of the topics they deal with, the participation of readers, advertising criteria and economic dependencies. In the case of FET a Sant Feliu, the fact of being a consumer cooperative makes one of the most important features that partners-readers, who provide the same social capital, are the true and only owners of the media.

Recovering ownership of the media, in the end, is also to avoid commercial and docile journalism with the advertisers and institutions that support practically all current media. It is not relying on advertising and bank lending. It is to put people – and not the capital. – back in the center,  It is, after all, to recover journalism.

Article originally published on Mè