1. Tomorrow I'm going down to Almería to report on the Gabriel Cruz murder trial. By all accounts media coverage is going to be a disaster—both TV programs and online media—and I think it deserves serious treatment. Because of what happened, the child, justice and the parents.
2. If I've understood what you have all told me about the coverage of the Catalan separatist trial, you want serious, accurate, dignified, detailed journalism from me. Precise chronicles, facts, context and analysis. So we shall apply that technique to this important new case.
3. The editorial teams at El Mundo, Ana Rosa, Espejo Público, La Sexta and all the rest could choose to report on the case with dignity. I hope they do, despite the sad record they have with these issues and what we have seen this past week with Mrs. Fernández Ochoa, but…
4. Just yesterday, the judge presiding over the trial, which will be with a jury, Alejandra Dodero, issued a new court order. She ordered, at the request of the parents, that the testimonies of both parents and the grandmother, as well as medical experts be behind closed doors.
5. The judge has ordered those sessions take place behind closed doors on the basis of a report from the Andalusian Victim Assistance Service (SAVA), which wanted the WHOLE trial to be held behind closed doors. Why…?
6. “…after the secondary victimisation of PATRICIA and ANGEL among other causes, the excessive mediatisation of the case has generated a chronic state of fear of irreparable psychological damage”. The judge has issued the pre-trial order BECAUSE OF THE MEDIA.
7. “…the fact that the trial is public and recorded and that it would generate a profusion of programmes, news and impacts that would give rise to a context as terrible as it is unnecessary to cause trauma”. The judge has—partially—agreed with the Andalusian victim service.
8. The Regional High Court has also sent a guide for the media and journalists who will be reporting on the case. There will be two press rooms and (limited) access to the courtroom itself for reporters. In the courtroom, no cell phones, laptops or recordings are allowed.
9. Important for what you will see on TV shows next week: Canal Sur (regional TV) will do the footage but THERE WILL BE NO LIVE or delayed images of the trial. They will only be for partial use on the news. TSJA says it will withdraw media passes from media who break rule.
10. There is also a statement from judges' associations: “Data and images of them without particular relevance to the case are broadcast, and we often see television and press debates where their guilt is taken for granted”. http://www.ajfv.es/comunicado-del-caso-gabriel
12. The judges associations refer to a study by the Audiovisual Council of Andalusia on the media coverage of the Gabriel case back in March 2018, when he disappeared. Here is the percentage of time TVE 1, Antena 3, Telecino and La Sexta spent talking about the story:
14. “Most especially, we ask that possible leaks from our son's trial not to published or broadcast”, the statement says: “WE NEED A FAIR TRIAL WITH ALL THE GUARANTEES”. They do not want parallel media trials or the annulment of the trial.
15. So, before we even begin, the national event will be twofold: not only the trial itself, including the presumption of innocence of the defendant, but also a very large test indeed for Spanish TV, online and print media. Will they manage to behave properly for 10 days?
16. I'll jump in the car, drive down to Almería, get the Twitter thread tool out and in this case too a box of pencils and several notebooks, in the old-fashioned way (you'll see why in a minute). We'll see what witnesses, experts and lawyers tell the court and what the media do.
17. (The other option this week was the King's speech and opening of the judicial year with the Supreme Court judges and authorities in Madrid. They tell me it comes with a glass of wine with His Majesty and Marchena but we're still a few weeks from the separatist trial verdict.)
18. And they have confirmed to me as well that—like with the Supreme Court trial of the Catalan separatists, and despite there being 130 journalists from 35 media—I will be the only international journalist chronicling this important Spanish trial in English for the world.
19. I have obtained for us one of the (very limited) reporting places in the courtroom. There will be a daily chronicle and thread, each evening, in English and Spanish, with all the relevant details of the trial so you are fully informed, but in a serious, decent manner.
20. Reader patrons make all this possible—the preparations, the trip and the reporting—while also guaranteeing absolute editorial independence. You invest in serious journalism and truthful information about important issues and stories in Spain.
21. If you are already among those hundreds of reader patrons, well done and thank you very much. This journalist will continue to do more independent journalism on your behalf. If not, join the tribe here: https://www.patreon.com/join/matthewbennett