Media.Cat – Revealing Censored, Silenced and Misreported Stories
Year of production: 2023
Media.cat is a critical media observatory based in Catalonia in Spain, which monitors on a daily basis how the media operates based on ethical principles. It is aimed at journalism professionals, communication sector scholars and citizens in general who are interested in having critical and analytical voices within the mass media.
I met with Carme Verdoy, Editor-in-Chief of Media.cat, in the Gràcia district of Barcelona, where they share an office with another media publication. The organisation was created in 2009 by the Ramon Barnils group of journalists with the aim of creating a “kind of an observatory”, as Carme calls it, that would analyse issues concerning the mass media, such as controversies and social conflicts and news about the use of discriminatory language. Carme says the organisation was inspired by similar centres in other countries that also document similar cases. An important part of the activity is to direct attention to restrictions and violations of freedom of speech and behaviour and to call them out.
Putting violations and censorship on a map
Although the organisation is small and only two people work full-time, their area of responsibility is large. Their websites get 150,000 unique users a year and they have around 27,000 followers on Twitter. In addition to opinion articles, interviews and videos, one very important element consists of the preparation of a comprehensive report, which summarises how many violations there are in a year and reveals various robust evidence of one-sidedness. Censorship is also being researched and the online Censorship Map has been constantly updated since 2015.
The Media.cat website also has a Blogs and Journalism section, which collects articles from dozens of blogs about journalism and media in the Catalan region. Among other topics, it also focuses on the communication industry, especially on issues such as job insecurity or harassment, and tries to echo the ethical and technological challenges facing journalism.
Speaking of media bias, Carme says that Media.cat recently published a report explaining how difficult it is to use photos of LGBTQ+ people and their families in news stories. Articles that talk about general family issues do not offer recognition of these people. In September 2022, they analysed the coverage of the employment of domestic workers in the news and found it to be more biased than they had hoped. Carme says that the Spanish media is controlled by very few people, which weakens the diversity of information.
Media and young people
Carme is also worried about young people’s media consumption. She finds it difficult to direct young people towards social and high-quality media channels, because they are less and less interested in journalistic channels in general. However, here she taps into the conscience of journalists, as she considers it to be their task to find a common language in which to communicate with young people. She believes that it is important for the media and journalists to create a social relationship with young people, both on media channels and in all places where young people congregate.