A story of the “free” press and the power of advertising….

Here’s an (allegedly true) story someone told me last night. Names changed to protect the guilty from public justice and me getting sued.

A certain Spanish historian, here in Mojácar, has a local pressure group which is taking a large utility company (let us assume it’s an electric company, for arguments sake) to court, and winning, for expropriating the land of small landowners, ignoring a more direct route through some big landowners and the Llano Central.

Back in around Feb, he was interviewed by a journalist from the local edition of an Andalucian newspaper which is part of a larger group. “How’s your pecker doing, can you keep the pressure up against XXX S.A. long term in the courts, etc” type public interest story. The story was published.

Next morning, the journalist who wrote this was called into his editor’s office and fired for “professional incompetence”.

“You what? ” he asked his editor.

“Fired” repeats the editor. “I’ve just had the MD of the whole group on the phone giving me a direct order. Because he’s just had the Spanish Director of Marketing for XXX S.A. on the line, pulling all advertising from the group. ” (Seems XXX S.A. spend around 5,5 million euros annually across all the publications of that media group).

“XXX S.A. didn’t like the idea of publishing anything critical of them, in any way, and your head needs to be presented on a platter.”

In a true Spanish compromise, he was fired and then rehired a week later under a false name, but at least honour was satisfied and the point hammered home with (a very large) hammer.

Free press, eh?

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