Top Spanish journalism awards reward investigative reporting and new storytelling formats

EL PAÍS co-founder praises press freedom at ceremony attended by political, business and cultural leaders

Former PM Felipe González (l) and EL PAÍS executive Juan Luis Cebrian at the ceremony.
Former PM Felipe González (l) and EL PAÍS executive Juan Luis Cebrian at the ceremony.Victor J Blanco / ©GTRESONLINE

The Ortega y Gasset Journalism Awards were handed out in Madrid on Monday at a ceremony attended by numerous personalities from the worlds of politics, business and culture.

Created in 1984 by EL PAÍS, the prizes reward distinguished journalism in the Spanish language in four categories: print, digital, graphic and lifetime achievement.

The news story – searching for it, checking the facts, and assessing it in light of the common interest – has not changed

Soledad Gallego-Díaz

Speaking at the awards ceremony, EL PAÍS co-founder Juan Luis Cebrián, who has held executive positions at the newspaper and its parent company PRISA for over 40 years, praised reporters for “making possible the miracle of communication and debate, uncovering corruption, placing limits on power, stimulating imagination, facilitating progress and defending democracy.”

In his address, Cebrián said that freedom of expression is a public asset and a constitutional right that belongs to all citizens.

“It does not belong to governments or state institutions, who must protect this freedom; nor does it belong to company owners or shareholders, nor to us journalists, who must act with the humble and rigorous attitude of those who are managing someone else’s property.”

The event attracted elected officials and politicians from across the ideological spectrum, including Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena of Ahora Madrid and former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González, a Socialist.

This year’s winning entries were an investigation into embezzlement by the Mexican government, written by Miriam Castillo, Nayeli Roldán and Manuel Ureste for the independent news website Animal Político; an immigrant success story by Inger Díaz Barriga presented as a podcast on the US-based Univisión Noticias; an image of the terrorist attack in Barcelona last summer by the photographers David Armengou and Marcela Miret; and EL PAÍS journalist Soledad Gallego-Díaz for her journalistic career.

Gallego-Díaz, 67, was a correspondent in Brussels, Paris, London, Buenos Aires and New York; she also worked as a columnist, and served as this newspaper’s ombudswoman and deputy editor. She was unanimously elected this year’s winner by a jury that included former crusading judge Baltasar Garzón, the director general of Google España Fuencisla Clemares, and the writer Almudena Grandes.

In her acceptance speech, Gallego-Díaz – who does not have a Twitter or Facebook account – said that while technology may have changed, information has not. “The news story – searching for it, checking the facts, and assessing it in light of the common interest – has not changed,” she said. “The goal of journalism is to turn a multitude of news into information.”

The awards are named after the 20th-century Spanish thinker and politician José Ortega y Gasset, “whose thinking remains applicable and absolutely pertinent in our present time,” said Cebrián.

Held at the Círculo de Bellas Artes cultural center, the ceremony included live performances by the rapper Arkano and the singer Rozalén. The winners received €15,000 each and a sculpture by the Basque artist Eduardo Chillida.

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