With the chaos ensuing in the world today, mixed with a declining profit for work in the journalism field, journalists seem to be taking bigger and bigger risks to find the story that could be their big break. Journalists travel to war-ridden countries, walking straight in the line of fire just for the chance to make the front page. Amongst the most dangerous places to report from are Iraq, Syria, and even France. Spain, however, is not.
Despite a rocky history, finding data on journalist attacks and killings in Spain is surprisingly difficult. In fact, it seems the only cases of Spanish journalists being attacked or killed have happened in other countries.
One of the most famous Spanish media killings happened in 2003, and was ruled to be the work of the hands of three of America’s finest: U.S. soldiers.
Jose Couso was a Spanish cameraman helping report from Baghdad, Iraq in 2003. American soldiers had ordered an attack on the Iraqi capital which included the Palestine Hotel where many reporting journalists were staying. The soldiers were originally indicted by a judge in 2007, but the case re-opened in 2008 when Couso’s family appealed to the Supreme Court of Spain. The case finally closed in mid-2011, with the judge ruling that the civilian deaths were unintentional, and that the location of the incident severely limited any Spanish government jurisdiction. Julio Anguita Parrado, a journalist with Spain’s El Mundo newspaper, was also killed in 2003 when an Iraqi missile hit a U.S. military base south of Baghdad.
In 2004, a Spanish journalist was amongst five people killed in a gunfire demonstration in Haiti. Ricardo Ortega, a New York based Spanish correspondent for the network Antena 3 in Madrid, was shot and killed when alleged supporters of exiled Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide opened fire on thousands of demonstrators.
More recently, Spanish journalists reporting on the Syrian war were taken hostage, but were eventually granted release. The journalists were reporting on the Syrian war in 2015, and were kidnapped by al-Qaeda’s Syrian counterpart, al-Nusra. The circumstances for the release of Antonio Pampliega, Jose Manuel Lopez and Angel Sastre in 2016 remains unknown, though their return was a joyous occasion for Spaniards, and even gained recognition from president Mariano Rajoy.
Given these cases, it would seem the greatest threat to Spanish journalists is leaving Spain to report. Much like American journalists, Spaniards seem to encounter the most dangerous area of their work when they go abroad and into war-plagued countries to report.
As far as safety training for Spanish journalists, there seems to be few resources aside from those online that offer “Spanish Translations,” to their online safety courses such as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), and the Dart Center. However, given Spain’s lack of ethical guidelines when it comes to media, their lack of safety guidelines does not come as much of a surprised either.
Overall, it would seem being a Spanish journalist is a safe job, until you leave the country.